We frequently pass Ladybower Reservoir on our way to towns and villages in Derbyshire and it's also a favourite place to spend the day or even a few hours. We were there again on Saturday with my cousin and her husband who had been holidaying in North Yorkshire and had stopped by to visit us before travelling back down to Berkshire. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very good and we retreated back to the Strines Inn in our local Bradfield Dale where there was a roaring log fire and we enjoyed a delicious, freshly cooked hot lunch - very different from the filled bread roll and salad sitting outside in the sunshine during the previous weekend! However, my cousin's husband, who's a keen hill walker, was pleased to revisit the beautiful Upper Derwent Valley with its reservoirs, the Howden, the Derwent and the Ladybower. The top reservoir is the Howden which is on the border between S. Yorkshire and Derbyshire, then the Derwent Reservoir and finally the Ladybower that has long stretches of water that form a Y shape).
Here are some photos of our time at Ladybower Reservoir on the day we enjoyed our last lot of really sunny weather!
We started off at the Ladybower Fisheries where there's some parking spaces by the roadside so that we could look out towards the Ashopton Viaduct before driving over it and along the road beside the long stretch of water that leads to the Derwent Dam and Reservoir then the Howden.
During WWII the Howden and Derwent Reservoirs and Dams were used by pilots of 617 'Dambusters' Squadron for training and practising low level flying before operations in the Rhur region due to the similarities to the German dams. Occasional flypasts take place and there's an exhibition and memorial in the museum in one of the Derwent Dam towers. The month of May being the anniversary of the operation, there was an 8-mile charity walk organised that weekend, this time in aid of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer research.
The countryside here looks so tranquil that it's hard for the visitor to imagine what this valley must have been like before it was flooded in order to construct the reservoir (although it's almost within living memory and there are archived photographs). Above is the present day area and a sketch of the village of Derwent whose ruins lie beneath the water (taken from an illustration on the site poster). Ladybower was built between 1935-1943 to supplement the other two reservoirs that had been constructed at the beginning of the 20th century in supplying water needs of the East Midlands. The building work was delayed during WWII and then it took months to fill the reservoir with water before it was opened in late 1945.
The two villages of Ashopton and Derwent that had been on the packhorse route were 'drowned' during the flooding of the valley. Ashopton was demolished to make way for the Ashopton Viaduct whereas Derwent Village remained submerged under the water including Derwent Woodlands Church and Derwent Hall. At one time the church tower could be seen during dry Summers when the water was low until it was demolished due to safety reasons when people would try to reach it. The 1914-18 war memorial to the men of Derwent Woodlands who died in the Great War can be seen by the roadside on the bank side opposite the 'lost village' and Ashes Farm on the opposite bank and part of the village still stands and is a National Trust property on managed NT land where there are important wild life habitats and archaeological sites.
We enjoy the woodland walks during different seasons of the year. There's a bus service that passes along this stretch of the water all the way to the Visitors' Centre near Derwent Dam which is also a popular picnic area.
You can just see a tower of Derwent Dam through the trees.
|Derwent Dam and a meadow where we come to have a picnic in the summer holidays.|
I understand that the water has been flowing over the top of the wall into the overflow channel due to heavy rainfall that we've had this year and it must be a sight to see although we turned around before we got to this point and took the bank side road back to Ashopton Viaduct.
The water was sparkling in the sunshine and I just caught a sight of a big group of Canada Geese that seem to like this spot as we've seen them there before.