Peak District Kids writer: Gemma from Families Can Travel
This is a gentle, circular Ladybower Reservoir walk and pram friendly. Indeed, the well-surfaced paths all the way round make it perfect for families looking for a longer Peak District walk with a pram or buggy. Check out our Ladybower cycle route if you are looking to do the loop on bikes, as the it’s a slightly different route. It’s also the most popular reservoir walk in the Peak District.
This Ladybower Reservoir walk starts at the northern tip of the reservoir at Fairholmes Visitor Centre and heads in a clockwise direction to the impressive Derwent Dam. There’s an optional nature walk near the dam which is great for toddlers (check out our Derwent Dam toddler walk) and often has activity trails on during school holidays.
The route continues along the eastern side of the reservoir where the lost villages once stood before the area was flooded to create the reservoir. There are beautiful views all the way around but some of the best are from this part of the walk, looking across the water to the woods on the western side.
After crossing over Ashopton Viaduct at the south end, the route follows the road back up the western side and then drops down onto the woodland path, returning back to the start.
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If you are planning a 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.
During the winter months, it’s important to be extra prepared and safe when out walking and adventuring in the Peak District. The weather can change so quickly, especially on the exposed escarpments, and we don’t want you to get caught out.
Read our top tips for safe winter walking with the kids.
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 provided for every walk, or what3words.
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.
Download and print out our walking guides ready for your family walk. There are over 80 downloadable walk guides available, and these include all the main Peak District family walks, pram-friendly walks, and toddler walks.
Each printable download is just £1.50, whether it’s a short 1km stroll or an epic walk up Kinder Scout.
Ladybower Reservoir walk map
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.
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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: 9.1km (5.7 miles)
TYPE OF WALK: easy going, circular route around the reservoir with well-surfaced paths
PARKING: Fairholmes car park at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre. Click here to see location on Google Maps. Postcode is: S33 0AQ. All day parking is £6 (or £3.50 up to 2 hours). There are both cash and card payment machines.
WALK HIGHLIGHTS: The impressive Derwent Dam, beautiful open views across the reservoir and to Ashopton Viaduct.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE: This walk can be done in 2-3 hours but with kids allow 3-4 hours.
ACCESSIBILTY: Pram friendly, flat, well-surfaced paths.
TOTAL ASCENT: 175 metres
PUBLIC TOILETS: At Upper Derwent Visitors Centre there are toilets, and a small takeaway café with outdoor picnic benches. There are no other facilities along this walk.
START: Fairholmes Car Park
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 1721 8940
Post code: S33 0AQ
Route follows a clockwise direction.
1. Take the footpath of the right, opposite the toilets and café. Then follow the footpath down to the left, towards Derwent Dam.
2. After 200 metres, the path meets a lane. Turn right and head towards the Derwent Dam, crossing over the bridge with the impressive dam wall straight ahead of you. Just over the bridge, there is a short little woodland walk with carved characters that the kids may like to explore (detailed more in our Derwent Dam toddler walk). Before continuing along the lane to the right, you may also want to take the opportunity to walk right up to Derwent Dam; after heavy rains, the dam in full flow is a spectacular sight.
3. Continue on the lane as it bends round to the right. Follow this for 2.3km, passing through what is left of the Derwent hamlet, most of which was flooded to create the reservoir.
4. Where the path splits, walk through the right-hand gate and follow the path to the right, keeping close to the reservoir.
5. Continue on the path for a further 800 metres, through another gate and into the woods. Continue on the path to the right, ignoring the uphill path to the left. Admire the beautiful open views across the reservoir and over the woods on the other side.
6. Soon the Ashopton Viaduct will come into sight ahead of you. Continue for a further 1.4km until you reach a gate. Walk through the gate and follow the road on the right 100 metres down to the road.
7. Turn right and walk along the pavement for 400 metres crossing over Ashopton Viaduct.
8. Follow the pavement, turning right at the end of the viaduct. On your right-hand side, you’ll see a wooden gate and path leading down towards the reservoir. Take this path only if you don’t have a pram as there are steps. For the pram friendly route continue uphill along the pavement and through the wooden gate.
9. After 1.3km, you’ll reach an off-road parking area. 100 metres after this, the road bears to the left. Turn right into the woods where the clearing is before a grass bank (see photo). This isn’t signposted and can be easily missed.
10. Walk 70 metres down to reach the woodland path. It’s a little tricky down here, but still doable with a buggy. You’ll notice you are joining the path you didn’t take earlier in order to avoid the steps to your right. Turn left and follow this path for 1.7km through the woods, a gate and more woods, until you reach a layby parking area.
11. Continue along the pavement for 600 metres. Then take the signposted footpath on the right back to the Fairholmes Car Park.
After your walk
If you’ve not stopped for a picnic on your way round, then finish off at the Fairholmes café. They serve a good selection of drinks, hot food, cakes and ice creams.
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!
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
Also, come and join our friendly Peak District Kids Facebook Group for any questions or to share photos of your walks.