A bracing walk at Derwent Valley, in the Peak District
Wonderful for taking in the many Peak District habitats, this walk will lead you alongside the Ladybower Reservoir, through farmland and up steep wooded cloughs, before emerging high on top of the moors, with panoramic views of the Derwent Valley and much of the Dark Peak area.
Spot local wildlife and enjoy beautiful vistas
Look out for mountain hares and golden plovers on your walk across the farmland and moorland.
Fairholmes car park, grid ref: SK173893
Start your walk at Fairholmes car park, turning right out of the car park and following the road towards Derwent Dam.
Derwent Valley and Dam
This area is good for certain types of bats and if you are walking at dusk you may be lucky enough to spot the noctule, pipistrelle and Daubentons bats. The brown-long eared bat is also present in this area, although sightings are rare. Derwent Dam and its twin, Howden Dam, were built at the beginning of the century and became famous for being used for RAF flying practice for the Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb in 1943 and then subsequently in the famous Second World War film, Dambusters.
Walk past the Dam and follow the road uphill, walking alongside Ladybower Reservoir on the right and Old House Farm on the left, towards the site of the old Derwent Village.
The village was flooded when the Dam was built in the Second World War. Only two buildings remain; the Lodge and the schoolroom, which you pass as you walk along the lane. To view the site of the village and an information panel, continue down the slope and across a bridge. Retrace your route back up the short slope and at the top, turn sharp right at the end of a high wall onto a track, over a stile and past the ruins of a farm.
Continue uphill until just after a cottage where the path divides. Keep left and climb uphill through open fields and then over a stile onto moorland. After about 0.5 mile (0.8km) and a right turn by a wall corner, as the track levels, you will pass Pike Low 100yd (90m) on your left.
This Bronze Age barrow, or burial mound, can be found at the highest point on the moor. The moors provide habitat for a variety of birds, including birds of prey. You may be lucky enough to spot some of England's only mountain hare population. In winter, their fur turns white, acting as camouflage.
Continue along this track above Mill Brook, below on your right. Follow the track to the Scots pine shelter belt ahead, the site of a substantial shooting cabin, with two lines of grouse butts running towards Green Sitches (a sitch being a ditch or wet area). Keep left at a fork just before the pines.
We are planting more trees here to improve the wildlife habitat, as part of our 50 year High Peak moors vision. We're using natural regeneration and some planting of native trees such as oak, rowan and Scots pine. At one point this whole area was wooded, but due to clearance, which has taken place since Roman times, very little remains. We prevent grazing of sheep here to help protect the trees, which in turn will attract wildlife. You are free to enter these enclosures to see the results of our work, but please avoid crossing large areas of heather between April and June, during bird nesting.
Follow the track until it turns right at a fence. Cross the fence by the stile and continue to the derelict farmstead of Bamford House along the edge of the moor, with Derwent Reservoir below on your left.
On reaching Bamford House, turn left and take the steep path downhill towards the reservoir. Turn left again once you reach Derwent Reservoir and follow this track alongside the reservoir and back towards Derwent Dam and Fairholmes car park.
A single tree whip costs just £3. If you've been inspired by what you've seen on your walk, you can donate £3 to help us buy and plant more trees by texting PEAK to 70123. Thank you. This is a charity donation service. You will be charged £3, plus one message at your standard network rate. The National Trust will receive 100% of your donation. If you’d rather we didn’t contact you in future, text NOCOMMS NT to 70060. If you wish to discuss this mobile payment call 0203 282 7863. A Registered charity in England and Wales (no: 205846)
Fairholmes car park, grid ref: SK173893
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