The Three Reservoirs cycle trail

Derwent Valley, Derbyshire

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Enjoy a rest with a stunning view © Emma Wagner

Enjoy a rest with a stunning view

Savour the wide open spaces around the reservoirs © Joe Cornish

Savour the wide open spaces around the reservoirs

Derwent Valley is famed for its sparrowhawks so keep your eyes peeled © NTPL/NaturePL/Niall Benvie

Derwent Valley is famed for its sparrowhawks so keep your eyes peeled

 © Crown copyright and database rights 2011 Ordnance Survey 100023974

Route overview

Set amid a landscape of moorland and vast reservoirs, this 18-mile (28.9km) cycle ride circumnavigates the Howden, Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs providing some spectacular views. Suitable as a family cycle-route or for the more energetic riders out there, this impressive location has something for everyone.

Route details

Start: Fairholmes car park, grid ref: SK173893

  1. Start at Fairholmes car park (non-National Trust) and bike hire beside the Derwent Reservoir dam wall. Cycling out of the car park follow the cycle route left up towards Derwent reservoir.

    Show/HideThe Dams

    The Howden, Derwent and Ladybower dams were built in 1901, 1916 and 1935 respectively and provide water to Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester. Their construction was controversial because they sacrificed two villages - Ashopton and Derwent. In very dry summers the crumbling buildings of Derwent village can still be seen. However, the major claim to fame for Derwent Dam is its part in the RAF's low-level dambuster flying training during the Second World War in preparation for the bombing of German dams with Barnes Wallis bouncing bombs.

    Enjoy a rest with a stunning view © Emma Wagner
  2. Continue along this path, cycling alongside Derwent Reservoir until you reach Howden Reservoir, where the path turns into a limestone path.

    Show/HideUpper Derwent Valley

    Upper Derwent Valley has attracted many tourists over the century, with its mixture of water, woodlands and open moors. The dramatic Victorian dams were built by 'navvies' using stone brought by train from Bolehill Quarry on the Longshaw estate.

    Savour the wide open spaces around the reservoirs © Joe Cornish
  3. After a while you will reach the Slippery Stones, where the path turns back on itself, crosses over to the other side of Howden Reservoir and descends towards Ladybower Reservoir and the A57.

    Show/HideValley wildlife

    Derwent Valley contains a variety of beautiful habitats such as woodland, farmland, water and moors and is an invaluable area for wildlife. Look out for birdlife such as goshawk, sparrowhawk, buzzard, merlin or peregrine falcon and wildlife such as deer, badgers, mountain hare and hedgehogs. The valley is famous for its birds of prey which can be seen in mating dances in the early spring, or via live CCTV links to nest sites during the breeding season at Fairholmes Information Centre.

    Derwent Valley is famed for its sparrowhawks so keep your eyes peeled © NTPL/NaturePL/Niall Benvie
  4. This path runs alongside the opposite bank of all three reservoirs and will lead you down Ladybower Reservoir until you reach the A57.

  5. Once you are at the bottom end of Ladybower Reservoir next to the A57 follow the path around and up back towards Fairholme car park, where you began your ride.

  6. trails::Map

     © Crown copyright and database rights 2011 Ordnance Survey 100023974

End: Fairholmes car park, grid ref: SK173893

  • Trail: Cycling
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 18 miles (28.9km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: Landranger 110, Explorer OL1
  • Terrain:

    This 18-mile (28.9km) loop has an undulating but almost continuously hard surface around its length and the paths have recently been improved. The northern edge is the most challenging. These trails are often busy at times with a mixture of cyclists, walkers and horse riders. Be prepared for loose/gravel surfaces, dont cycle too close to other cyclists and beware of vehicles on country roads. We strongly recommend that you wear a helmet.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: The Derwent Valley Heritage Way runs from Ladybower Reservoir to the confluence of the River Derwent and the River Trent

    By bike: Upper Derwent Valley Cycle Path (National Cycle Route 54) follows the valley bottom, on-road and off-road routes. See sustrans website

    By bus: 273 Sheffield – Ladybower – Castleton. Alight Fairholmes info point. For more info see Traveline website

    By train: Hope 4 miles (6.4km), Sheffield 12 miles (19.3km)

    By car: M67 J3, M1 J31, take A57 then turn off at Ladybower Reservoir