If you’re looking for an adventurous Ladybower Reservoir walk, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I share the details of a fun circular walk of Derwent Edge and Ladybower Reservoir, as well as all the essential info you’ll need before visiting.
Ladybower Reservoir is one of the most famous reservoirs in the Peak District. One of three in the Upper Derwent Valley, Derwent Reservoir and Howden Reservoir being the other two, it provides a multitude of recreational opportunities and attracts millions of visitors each year.
The most popular walk of Ladybower Reservoir circles the water at ground level. This route is great because it’s a well-surfaced path accessible for prams, wheelchairs, cyclists, and walkers of all ages and capabilities.
However, if you want a more adventurous route with better views and rugged trails, this guide contains the perfect alternative. Keep reading for everything you need to know, including how to get there, where to park, and the best time to visit.
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Ladybower Reservoir Walk at a Glance
Time: 4-5 hours
Ladybower Reservoir Walk FAQs
Before I share my experience on this walk of Ladybower Reservoir and Derwent Edge, let’s cover some key information to help you plan accordingly.
How to Get There
Ladybower Reservoir is located in the Upper Derwent Valley and close to Bamford Village, just off the A57. You might know this road better as Snake Pass. This main road in the Peak District runs from Glossop to Ladybower Reservoir.
There is lots of parking around Ladybower Reservoir, but there is a fee at many car parks due to its popularity. You can avoid that by parking at Cutthroat Bridge Layby, where the trail for this Ladybower Reservoir walk begins.
Click here for the Google Map location for the layby parking area. It’s a sketchy-looking spot when you compare it to the pay & display car parks around the reservoir, but it’s free. We left our campervan here all day without any issues.
Getting here by public transport is also doable. The 272 bus between Sheffield and Castleton stops directly next to Ladybower Reservoir.
Best Time to Visit
Considered one of the top things to do in the Peak District and set in an accessible location, Ladybower Reservoir can get extremely busy. Regardless of when you visit, it’s unlikely you will be alone at this popular beauty spot.
Thankfully, my walking route is designed to take you away from the bulk of the crowds. You’ll still encounter the odd person higher up, but it gets noticeably more busy on the ground-level trails.
The reservoir can get uncomfortably busy during weekends and school holidays, especially on warmer days. I suggest arriving before 9 am to secure a parking spot if you’re visiting during those times.
Ladybower Reservoir Walk Difficulty
I have classified this walking route as moderate in difficulty. You have the length of the hike, which is 12.5 km and the incline, which is 400 m, so you’ll need to be in reasonable shape.
Regarding the terrain, there are some rocky, uneven paths on the higher trails, a few boggy sections, and some overgrown fern trees. Besides that, there’s nothing too tricky or technical to worry about.
For directions, I always recommend having a map to hand. There is the odd sign along the route, but I wouldn’t want to rely on them. There are many trails in this area, which can be disorientating.
There are plenty of opportunities for those looking to up the intensity of their walk. You can include Bamford Edge – another stunning Peak District viewpoint. Or join the iconic Stanage Edge Ridge, where you can check out Robin Hood’s Cave.
Ladybower Reservoir Circular Walk Map
Other Things Worth Knowing
Dogs: The entirety of this Ladybower Reservoir walking trail is dog-friendly. Our 11-year-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua handled the route with no problems. However, please keep your dog on a lead.
Kids: This Ladybower Reservoir walking route is probably not suitable for kids. They can, however, enjoy the ground-level trail.
Pushchair/Wheelchair Access: Unfortunately, this route is not accessible with a pushchair or wheelchair. Again, the ground-level trail is.
Footwear: Supportive footwear with a good grip is a hiking essential for this walk.
Weather: Be mindful that the weather can change quickly in the hills. Be prepared for all the seasons.
Facilities: There are pubs, toilets, picnic benches, and a visitor centre by the Ladybower Reservoir. On the higher trails, there are no facilities. Bring enough food and water for your hike, and take all your rubbish home.
Map: It’s always good to have a map handy should you get lost or lose the trail. We use All Trails for this purpose.
Hiking Essential Items
Here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:
- Sturdy worn-in hiking boots
- Twin Skin Socks
- A waterproof hiking backpack
- A refillable water bottle
- A waterproof jacket
- Life straw
- Hiking snacks
- Blister plasters
- First aid kit
- Power bank
Here are some other essential for your adventure:
Our Experience on this Ladybower Reservoir Walk
After driving past Ladybower Reservoir earlier in the week, I was excited to get stuck into this hike and check out the views from Derwent Edge. We got to the layby at around 10 am on a Friday, and there were at most 3 or 4 other cars.
The trailhead begins directly by the layby. A little cut-through means you don’t have to walk on the busy main road. It’s no longer than a few hundred metres; then, you must cross over the road and walk through a wooden gate to rejoin the trail.
Walking to Derwent Edge
The first section of the walk is a bit uneventful. I wasn’t inspired to take any photos as there wasn’t much worth taking a photo of. I just allowed myself to warm into the walk, gradually ascending our way into the hills.
Around the 2km mark, we got our first taste of an impressive view. The trail branches off into several directions with a view of Ladybower Reservoir up ahead. We took the trail on the right, following signs for Derwent Edge.
From there, the trail continues to ascend. There’s no doubt that we could feel the pull in our legs, but it was a gradual incline and nothing too strenuous. After the arduous walk to Alport Castles a day earlier, I was grateful for the manageable terrain.
You’ll know when you’ve got to Derwent Edge when you start seeing all the cool rock formations. Derwent Edge is one of many gritstone escarpments in the Peak District. They are commonly known as ‘edges’ and are a playground for rock climbers, walkers and ramblers.
What can I say? The views all along this stretch are insane. Dense areas of forest surround Ladybower Reservoir, with rolling green hills sprawling into the distance. The Peak District is the gift that keeps on giving. Despite the few weeks I’d already spent there, the region continued to blow me away.
There are plenty of opportunities to climb up onto the rocks along the edge. Many of them make for immense viewpoints and Instagrammable moments. Just be careful. Needless to say, getting too close to the edge can be dangerous. I would not attempt in high winds or low visibility.
The most photographed rock formation on Derwent Edge looks like a multi-layered platform rising from the ground. We took a short detour to go and see it, but it wasn’t anything overly special. There were certainly better viewpoints earlier on. From one angle, it looked like a ninja turtle. Do you see it?
Derwent Edge to Ladybower Reservoir Walk
Time to make our way down and join the ground-level trail. There is no clear path, but from the rock formation pictured above, a subtle worn track descends the edge. You can just about make it out in the photo below, running alongside the stone wall.
The descent was quite steep in parts but nothing unmanageable. You’ll want to keep an eye out for boggy areas, as these can often catch you off guard. We also encountered some overgrown fern trees, which seems to be a regular occurrence when hiking in the Peak District.
I recommend keeping an eye on your map for this section of the hike to ensure you’re heading the right way. A good indicator is to head toward the reservoir; you can’t go far wrong. But if you want to follow the same route as us, a map might come in handy.
You’ll know you’re on the right track when you come to the well-defined paths pictured below, and Ladybower Reservoir is on your left-hand side. You’ll want to follow it all the way to the bottom, where it will lead you to the water’s edge.
You’re on the main walking route of Ladybower Reservoir now. You’ll see what I mean about the path being well-surfaced and accessible to all. It’s also incredibly pristine and beautiful, leading you through enchanting woodland areas and allowing beautiful views over the water.
The path eventually curves around to the left, and you will see the main road directly below you. You can stay on the trail, which undulates all the way back to the car park. Or you can walk down to the reservoir and grab refreshments at The Ladybower Inn. Why not? You deserve it!
Enjoy this Scenic Walk of Ladybower Reservoir
I hope you enjoy this beautiful walk as much as we did. It’s one of the best Peak District walks, in my opinion, but also one of the most interesting. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.