Details: Secret Side of Ladybower Walk
Distance 8.1 miles
Time 5-6 hours
Terrain Well-made tracks, hill paths, some pavement
Accessibility Some uneven terrain, gates
Start and End Point Grid Ref SK 20258 | Nearest Postcode S33 0BY | /// clustered.rods.yards
Map Ordnance Survey Explorer OL1
Introduction: Secret Side of Ladybower Walk
Ladybower Reservoir is a well-loved, very popular Peak District destination, but this fabulous circular walk takes you away from the crowds and into the quiet hillsides that surround the north-western edges of the water. From the magnificent Ladybower Dam and those famous plug holes, the route takes you along wooded trails beside the River Ashop, surrounded by sweeping hills. It then crosses the river to return on the other side, with wide open countryside views across to Lose Hill and the vast bulk of the Kinder plateau. You return to your start point via the pretty slopes below Crook Hill, for a wonderfully different perspective on Ladybower Reservoir and the iconic Ashopton viaduct.
This is a walk of 8.1 miles. The terrain is mixed, with well-made trails and field paths. There are gates but no stiles. There is ample parking at Heatherdene car park at the start of the walk (fees apply). The nearest public toilets are at Fairholmes Visitor Information Centre, approx 1 mile from the start of the walk. You may encounter cows on this route. Allow around 5-6 hours to complete this walk at a moderate pace, with rest stops to take in the views.
Directions: Secret Side of Ladybower Walk
1. Park at the Heatherdene car park located off the A6013 near the village of Bamford (S33 0BY). From the car park entrance walk back to the A6013 and turn left, to walk on the footpath with Ladybower Reservoir on your right. After a short distance you’ll see the first of the two famous ‘plug holes’. The plug holes are actually called bellmouth spillways, and they’re each 80 feet in diameter. They’re there to divert flood water from the reservoir safely under the dam and into the River Derwent.
2. When you reach the black metal gates to the dam across Ladybower Reservoir on your right, go through the gates and walk on the well-made track across the dam. From here you get excellent views across the reservoir on your right and along the River Derwent towards Bamford on your left.
3. At the end of the dam wall, go through the gate and turn right, with the reservoir on your right. Just around the corner you’ll see the second of the spillways.
4. Continue walking on this broad, well-made track for approx 5km, ignoring all other paths off. The track passes through shady woodland before emerging to walk beside the lesser-known side of Ladybower Reservoir, with magnificent views over the water to Grimbocar Wood and Great Wood.
5. When you reach an obvious fork of paths, take the left hand fork signposted to Hagg Farm, heading up through woodland.
6. After passing through a small hand gate the path forks again. This time take the right hand fork, descending gently down towards the River Ashop.
7. As you reach the river, turn right at a T-junction of paths to cross the river via a wide bridge, Haggwater Bridge.
8. Keep following the path upwards until it reaches the A57. Cross the road with extreme care and take the track directly opposite, signed to Hagg Farm Centre.
9. On reaching the top of this track, go straight on through a wide gate, ignoring the track to Hagg Farm to your left. This path is quite uneven and twists steadily uphill through pretty woodland.
10. Continue following the track as it emerges from the wood into open countryside with beautiful views all around you, over to the slopes of Lose Hill and as far across as Kinder Scout.
11. Soon after a wide gate with a stile beside, you’ll come to a junction of paths. Take the right hand path, a bridleway signposted to Crook Hill. This bridleway runs to the right of a wooded area known as Hagg Side.
12. On reaching a junction of gates, go through the first gate and then turn immediately right through a second gate, still walking to the right of a tree line.
13. Where the tree line ends and curves away to your left, continue on the obvious track broadly straight on across a couple of fields, through a succession of hand gates, again with fantastic open views.
14. The obvious hill in front of you is Crook Hill, and you need to pass to the left of it. The path is marked by a series of wooden posts in the ground. There are wonderful views of Derwent Edge ahead of you.
15. Continue following the bridleway as it eventually reaches a stone wall and turns right, keeping the wall on your left. Stay on the bridleway heading towards a farm, through a wide gate, ignoring other paths off.
16. On reaching the farm, turn left before the main farm buildings and follow the Bridleway signs through the farmyard and through a wide gate. The path curves to the left.
17. Upon reaching a further wide gate at the end of a stone barn on the right, look out for a small hand gate on the right immediately after the barn.
18. Go through the gate and follow the well-marked path diagonally right across open fields and through a succession of gates, now with views of Ladybower Reservoir and the Ashopton Viaduct.
19. The path eventually leads down to the right hand side of a small wood, before emerging on to the quiet Upper Derwent Valley road that leads to Fairholmes Visitor Centre. As you reach the road, cross carefully to the pavement and turn right, with Ladybower Reservoir on your left.
20. You will very soon reach a T-junction of roads and meet the A57. Turn left at the T-junction to walk across Ashopton Viaduct, with magnificent views of Ladybower Reservoir on both sides.
21. When you reach the traffic lights, turn right to follow the signs to Bamford. Your starting point of Heatherdene car park is on your left after approx 200 metres.