Start : Fairhomes Visitor Centre
Distance: 16 miles
Terrain: Tarmac roads, trails and some short sections of rocky ground. Some inclines.
Bike Types: Mountain bikes, Hybrid
Grading : Moderate
Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District, Derbyshire is a large Y-shaped reservoir and is the the lowest of three in the Upper Derwent Valley, the other reservoirs being Howden and Derwent. The River Ashop flows into the reservoir from the west; the River Derwent flows south, initially through Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir, and finally through Ladybower Reservoir. The dams construction was started in 1902.
The Upper Derwent Valley is perhaps most well known for being the area where the Lancaster Bomber Pilots known as the Dambusters practiced bombing runs and prior to attacking the Möhne, Eder, Sorpe dams in the Ruhr Valley, Germany. The location was again used when filming the Dambusters film in 1954.
You may want to find the memorial to Tip, a sheepdog who lay at the side of his owners body after he tragically died on Howden Moor.
The area is now a popular tourist attraction, with the Fairholmes visitors’ centre located at the northern tip of Ladybower.
A pay and display parking is available at Fairholmes car park at the Upper Derwent Visitor centre.
Also limited free roadside parking as you approach Fairholmes car park. Weekends and bank holidays are particularly busy so try to arrive by 9am to park. On busy day, Fairholmes car park can be full by 10:30am on busy days.
It is a great cycling area with routes for both mountain bikers and other cyclists. Its possible to do a complete circuit of all three dams but where the track meets the A57 Snake pass there is a choice of a very steep climb or a mile or so on the busy A57.
Perhaps the most popular route for cyclists is a loop of the top two dams (Howden and Derwent). The route is approximately 16 miles long and a mixture of road, smooth gravel trails and a couple of short sections of rough tracks so a mountain bike is advisable but its perfectly capable of being ridden on a hybrid / gravel bike. The views and scenery is wonderful. From the Fairhomes visitor centre you can also do a shorter ride around Howden Reservoir which is around 9 miles.
Highlights of this ride includes the King’s Tree where the road ends near the top of Howden Reservoir, the Packhorse bridge, which once stood at Derwent village before it was flooded and Slippery Stones which is popular for swimming in warmer weather ! When Ladybower dam is low its possible to see or even walk out to the ruins of Derwent Village which was flooded to make Ladybower resevoir.
The woodland area near to Derwent Dam is ideal for picnicking and you can view the carved woodland creatures. Take drink bottles, not just for the picnic but for the whole cycle ride.
Bicycles are available to hire from Derwent Bike Hire at the Visitors Centre. There are adult bikes, childrens bikes, all available to hire for a full day. Bicycle hire is done on a first come basis. They have plenty of cycles and do not normally run out. If you want to book accessible bikes and electric bikes it is advisable to prebook.
Ladybower Route Map & GPX
Download file: Ladybower-Circuit.gpx
Haddock Hideaway, Castleton – An ideal base to explore the Peak District. Great cycling route around the Upper Derwent Valley, incorporating Ladybower Reservoir. Also check out our Saints Cottage in Scarborough.
Riding House Farm Cottages, Hope Valley – Family run cottages at Castleton, Derbyshire, in the the heart of the Peak District National Park.
Oaker Farm, Hope – Holiday accommodation set in a stunning position in the heart of the Peak District National Park
Bank View Farm Luxury Bed and Breakfast, Sheffield – Boutique Style Accomodation with extensive gardens and grounds to explore and beautiful cycle routes from the door. A la carte breakfast made to order. There is plenty of private parking and secure bike storage. A fantastic base to explore the Peak District. Book direct for best price.
There is a large pay and display car park at the Fairhomes visitors centre and also a number of smaller pay and display on the road leading up to Fairhomes. You can also park on the road before Ashopton Viaduct. Please make sure you park in designated parking areas as Derbyshire police do ticket vehicles illegally.
There is a Cafe, information centre and bike hire at Fairhomes. There are also refreshments at The Ladybower Inn which can found on the A57 towards Sheffield.
Fairhomes visitor centre
Other Cycling Routes
If you prefer a less hilly cycling route why not try the Monsal Trail starting at Bakewell. You can also try the High Peak Trail.