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Derwent Dam toddler walk (1.6km circular)

Derwent Dam toddler walk (1.6km circular)

Thank you to Polly from Follow Your Sunshine and her little one for the photos in this guide.

Derwent Dam, which towers above the northern tip of Ladybower Reservoir, is an impressive feat of engineering and is an incredible site when flowing after heavy rain or snow melt. It’s a short walk to get here from Fairholmes Car Park, and there’s a detour to a short nature trail enroute for little ones to explore the woodland and find carved creatures under the trees. A train carved from a fallen tree is the ideal snack stop overlooking the water.

It’s a perfect Peak District toddler walk for little ones to be out of the carrier and exploring, to start building up their stamina for those longer family walks.

However, if you want to enjoy a longer walk after this, you could continue up into the hills on our Derwent Dam walk to Pike Low (6.8km) with your toddler in a carrier. Alternatively, if parents want to enjoy a relaxed stroll whilst your little one naps in the buggy after their adventures, how about walking the loop around Ladybower Reservoir (9.1km), which is pram friendly.

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When planning your visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds if visiting over sunny weekends or school holidays. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs, and park your car in designated parking areas. Also, please use these walks as a guide; access and stiles may change.

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PARKING INFORMATION: Please do not rely solely on the postcode for parking directions. In the National Park, a postcode can cover a large area. Postcodes are only provided as guidance. Please either use the Google Maps point or what3words, which are provided on every walk guide.

Do check out our top tips for hiking with young kids, as well as our essential items to take on a family hike in the Peak District.

Map of Derwent Dam toddler walk

On all Peak District family walks it’s a good idea to have an Ordnance Survey paper map with you, even if you have your phone on you. For this walk you need the OS Explorer Map OL 01 (Dark Peak). It’s also a good opportunity to show young kids the map features and get them started with map reading.

This toddler walk follows the below map in a clockwise direction.

© Crown copyright 2024 OS AC0000861980

Get a printable download of this walk

Want to print off this walk guide rather than rely on your mobile? Then click here to download the PDF to print out at home. Perhaps print out a copy for the kids to follow the step-by-step directions and/or photos? It’s a great way to get them engaged with the walk and gives them a sense of responsibility.

All printable downloads are £1.50 each. Click here for the full list of Peak District Kids printable downloads.

Please note that your download link expires 72 hours from order, so make sure you save your PDF somewhere where you’ll remember it. If you are unsure where your download folder is on your mobile device, we recommend you download the PDF on your laptop or desktop.

Need to know

DISTANCE OF WALK: 1.6km / 1 mile

TYPE OF WALK: easy-going and flat toddler walk

PARKING: Fairholmes car park at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre. Click here to see location on Google Maps, postcode S33 0AQ. All day parking is £6 (or £3.50 up to 2 hours). There are both cash and card payment machines.

WALK HIGHLIGHTS: Derwent Dam, finding carved woodland creatures and playing on sculptures.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: Adults will walk this in 30 minutes, but this walk is all about toddlers! So allow them to meander and explore for a good 2 hours.

ACCESSIBILTY: This walk is pram-friendly, although best to leave it at home so as not to tempt your toddler!

TOTAL ASCENT: 13 metres

FACILITIES: At Upper Derwent Visitors Centre there are toilets, and a small takeaway café with outdoor picnic benches.

Fairholmes car park
Fairholmes Car Park

The route

START: Fairholmes Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1721 8940
Post code: S33 0AQ
what3words: ///tenders.perusing.scoots

Route follows a clockwise direction.

1. From Fairholmes car park, with the Visitors Centre on your left, follow the waymarked path toward Derwent Dam. This meets a lane to take you over the bridge, with Derwent Dam right in front of you.

2. Take the little footpath off the tarmac lane and onto the grass. You can walk right up to the dam wall.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

3. Follow the dam wall all the way to the right, and then climb the steps to view the dam from the side.

4. Take the footpath behind you that crosses over the steps you just came up. Follow this away from the dam and to the tarmac lane.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

5. At the tarmac lane, take the footpath to the right of the gate and then walk right down the lane.

6. Just before you cross back over the bridge, there’s a footpath into the woods on your left.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

7. Walk straight ahead into the woods and find the first carved woodland creature.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

8. Follow the nature trail in a clockwise loop, passing the carved train, which is a good snack stop overlooking the water.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

9. On exiting the nature trail, take a left back up to the car park. Time for a nap.

Derwent Dam toddler walk

Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you have found this website useful for planning your family adventures, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!

Also, feel free to share your walk photos in our Peak District Kids Facebook Group or on Instagram using the #peakdistrictkids hashtag so we can share with our wider community.

Or perhaps purchase a Peak District Kids iron-on patch. £1 from every sale of the iron-on patches goes towards the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity established to raise funds to care for the Peak District National Park.

Want more ideas for family walks?
Best Family Walks in the Peak District
Pram Friendly Peak District walks
Toddler walks in the Peak District


Or, use the search walks page to find your perfect family walk.

Also, come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group for any questions or to share photos of your walks.

You may also like to read:
Hope Valley ice-cream walk (0.7km)
Ox Stones walk (1.7km)
Padley Gorge walk (2.7km)