A LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK GUIDE
A Ladybower Reservoir walk is one of the best things to do in the Peak District National Park. The classic trail which we’ll cover in this guide includes all of the ingredients needed for a spectacular walk; a woodland trail, epic views and numerous places to stop for lunch.
In addition to what to expect on this walk, we’ll also cover some things to know before you go, as well as some top tips to bear in mind ahead of the walk.
WHAT IS LADYBOWER RESERVOIR?
Ladybower Reservoir is one of the biggest reservoirs in the Peak District National Park at 520 acres. The Y-shaped damn is filled by the River Ashop and River Derwent and holds a whopping 464 billion litres of water.
After being transported via an aqueduct and going through a rigorous cleaning process, the water in reservoir is served to much of the population in the East Midlands.
WHERE IS LADYBOWER RESERVOIR IN THE PEAK DISTRICT
Ladybower Reservoir is situated just above the central Peak District in an area known as the ‘High Peak’. The closest village is Bamford, best known for Bamford Edge, where some of the best views of the reservoir can be enjoyed.
Below is an interactive map so that you can see the exact location.
HOW TO GET TO THE LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK TRAILHEAD
The best way to get to Ladybower Reservoir is by car. This is because the Peaks are mostly made up of heaps of fields, with many villages and towns dotted across the area that are connected by country roads.
If you need to rent a car, then we’d recommend a reputable platform such as Expedia. Here you’ll find all of the best deals on the market to compare against, which saves you time and money.
There is no bus that will take you directly to the trailhead of this walk, but there is a bus stop along another section of the walk called Ashtop, Ladybower Inn.
This makes the route accessible for those using the bus if they’re happy to start the trail from an alternative location, which isn’t an issue for most.
Below are some popular bus routes from well-known locations. Alternatively, we’d recommend using Rome2Rio or checking out the Peak District Bus timetable to find what you’re looking for.
From Castleton: Bus 256/257/258 – 17 minutes
From Hathersage: Bus 256/257/258 -39 minutes
From Bakewell: Bus 256/257/258 – 1 hour 15 minutes
The closest village to the trailhead of this walk is Bamford. And, whilst there is a train station, it’s not a viable option since it would be approximately a 1-hour walk to the starting point.
If you’re happy with this additional time, then it’s worth noting that many of the other small villages across the Peak District National Park have small train stations.
LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK CAR PARK
The official car park for this walk is Bridge Edge Car Park. This is a paid car park that will cost £3 for the day, which can only be paid in cash.
Alternatively, Derwent Overlook Car Park is slightly further along and is free.
Ladybower Reservoir walk postcode: S33 0AQ
BEST TIME TO WALK AROUND LADYBOWER RESERVOIR
The best time to do any kind of walk in the Peaks is between April and October, as this is when the weather is most likely going to be dry in the UK. However, if you still enjoy hiking in the winter months, then this hike is a great one to do whatever the weather, since there it’s sheltered from the wind and the rain most of the time.
LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK KEY DETAILS
DISTANCE OF THE WALK
This Ladybower Reservoir walk length is 9.2 kilometres.
DIFFICULTY OF THE WALK
The difficulty of this walk is rated as easy. Whilst it’s an undulating route throughout, this is a gentle walk that hugs the edge of the reservoir the entire time.
You’ll see many children on this walk, as well as mothers with prams.
ELEVATION OF THE WALK
The total elevation of this walk is 247 meters. If you look at the profile of the elevation, you’ll see that it is very spikey. However, at no point does the elevation become too much, even for the novice hiker.
DURATION OF THE WALK
For most walkers, this route should take approximately 2 hours to complete. However, we’d recommend leaving 2-3 hours to allow for a bite to eat and plenty of pictures!
LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK: WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY
FROM THE CAR PARK TO THE CAFE
The Ladybower and Lee Wood Circular walk begins from the car park and immediately finds a trail that hugs the edge of the reservoir. The trail winds its way along a dusty path, before eventually arriving at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre. Here, you’ll find toilets, bike rental, a cafe and plenty of picnic benches, which are worth making use of as these are the only facilities on the walk.
THROUGH THE FOREST AND UP THE HILL
As you continue along the route, you’ll begin to lead uphill slightly. You’ll walk through a forest that’s perched on the edge of the reservoir and have full view of the huge body of water from the centre point of one of the prongs which form the Y-shape.
Before continuing along the trail, it’s worth diverting slightly towards Derwent Reservoir. Here you’ll find the impressive overflow from Ladybower Reservoir pouring over a dam. For us, this is one of the most impressive parts of the walk, so we’d recommend going out of your way to add on this small section.
ALONG THE TRAIL AND OVER LADYBOWER BRIDGE
The route continues to undulate alongside the reservoir, dipping in and out of the woodland. With every step, Ladybower Bridge will get slightly bigger as you get closer and closer. You’ll want to make sure that you take this opportunity to take some pictures of the bridge, as along this section of the trail are some of the best viewpoints.
Once the trail spits you out onto the main road, you’ll cross the bridge to see and see the three prongs of Ladybower Reservoir.
LOOPING BACK TO THE CAR PARK
Once you’ve made it to the other side of the bridge, the trail loops back around and diverts off of the main road and back onto a small dusty trail. Here, you’ll get some more great views of the bridge as well as the reservoir. You’ll want to make the most of these views as this is the last time you’ll have a clear view before the trail leads back to the car park through woodland.
LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALK MAP
Below is an interactive map of what is, in our opinion, one of the best walks around Ladybower Reservoir. If you’ve got an Alltrails account, then we highly recommend saving this to your favourites and downloading it ahead of the walk.
TIPS FOR WALKING AROUND LADYBOWER RESERVOIR
PARK IN ONE OF THE FREE CAR PARKS
Although the walk which we’ve chosen begins in a paid car park, we do not recommend parking here since there are heaps of free car parks around that all land on the trail at some point.
We recommend Derwent Overlook Car Park, however, if this is full then keep driving until you find another free spot.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT STARTING THE WALK EARLY
Since there are quite a few free car parks to choose from on this walk, there is no rush to start the walk early as it’s unlikely that you’ll need to fight for a car parking space.
MAKE USE OF THE CAFE
The Upper Derwent Visitor Centre has a small cafe. This is the only place to stop along the route for something to eat or drink, so we’d recommend making use of it.
The cafe is quite close to the start of the walk, so if you’d rather use this as a halfway stop, then we’d recommend taking a look at the map and starting the walk from a car park that’s slightly further away.
OR TAKE A PICNIC
Alternatively, there are plenty of places to stop beside the reservoir for a picnic.
DOWNLOAD THE MAP AHEAD OF THE WALK
Most locations in the Peak District National Park don’t have very good signal and as such, you’ll struggle to follow a live map. We’d recommend downloading the map ahead of your walk to avoid getting lost along the way!
DOWNLOAD MUSIC/PODCASTS IF YOU’RE GOING ON A SOLO WALK
Similarly to the reason above, you’ll also want to download anything that you may want to listen to whilst you’re walking if you’re embarking on a solo adventure.
TELL SOMEONE WHICH TRAIL YOU’RE WALKING ON
Whenever you go hiking, it’s always best to let someone know where you’re heading in case you have no phone signal and you run into some trouble. If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, then we’d recommend letting the reception know. If you’re staying in an Airbnb then it’s worth dropping the owner a text.
TAKE A BATTERY PACK
With such stunning scenery, there will be plenty of opportunities to take photos and videos on this walk. Whilst it’s great to capture the memories, these usually come at a high cost to your phone battery. We’d recommend packing a battery pack to avoid any dead phones and disappointment.
BE PREPARED FOR THE WEATHER
If you’re from the UK then you’ll know that the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times. Regardless of what time of year you’re hiking around Ladybower Reservoir, we’d always recommend packing a raincoat at a minimum. Luckily, this walk is sheltered for a lot of the time, however, you can never be too careful.
BRING SNACKS AND DRINKS
As already mentioned, the only place to stop along this trail for food and drink is the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre. We’d recommend packing some snacks and drinks to keep you going along the walk, as on a hot day in the Peak District your energy will quickly drop!
CONSIDER HIRING A BIKE
Walking around the reservoir is a popular activity, however, it’s also possible to cycle. You can pick up some rental bikes from the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre if you’d prefer this option.
ALTERNATIVE LADYBOWER RESERVOIR WALKING ROUTES
Whilst we believe that the Ladybower and Lee Wood Circular is the very best Ladybower Reservoir walk, we totally appreciate that some people may be looking for an easy walk or something a little more challenging.
Below are some alternative routes which are worth considering.
The Ladybower and Led Hill Circular is just over 5 kilometres. It hugs the reservoir for just under half of the walk, before climbing Led Hill, which provides some of the best views of Ladybower Reservoir.
At just under 27 kilometres, this route is no mean feat. It strolls beside almost all of the reservoir and covers some great elevation that provides fantastic views of the area from above.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR LADYBOWER RESERVOIR
Bamford is by far the closest village to stay in if you’re looking to have Ladybower Reservoir on your doorstep. It’s a small place with little more than a few shops, however, it’s the perfect base for those looking for a peaceful stay with access to not only this walk but other great walks such as Bamford Edge and Mam Tor, too.
Hathersage is a bustling village in the Peak District that has a bit more atmosphere than Bamford. It’s got a small high street with a few pubs and seems to be busy all year round. The trailhead of this walk is just 7 minutes drive from Hathersage, so it’s a great option for those who enjoy a mixture of walking in the Peaks and eating out.
If you’re looking to balance a city break with the countryside then look no further than Sheffield. It’s just 25 minutes from the trailhead of this walk and has a lot to offer. You’ll find quirky parts of the city such as Kelham Island, as well as heaps of places to eat and drink in the sunshine.
EXPLORE BEYOND LADYBOWER RESERVOIR IN THE PEAK DISTRICT
If you like the look of this Ladybower Reservoir walk, then you’ll find plenty of other great walks nearby. We’ve written about some of our favourites which can be found below.
- Luds Church walk / an easy walk to an awe-inspiring chasm that’s steeped in history
- Dovedale Stepping Stones walk / a picturesque valley walk to the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones
- Bamford Edge walk / a phenomenal walk with some of the best picture spots in the Peaks
- Mam Tor walk / a breathtaking Mam Tor walk that leads through Winnats Pass & Castleton
- Winnats Pass walk / an unbelievable adventurous walk across two stunning ridgelines
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