29 May 2014

The reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley



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.  


17 comments:

  1. I bet the reservoirs are full this week. That must have been a little eerie to be able to see the church tower when the water was low. Such gorgeous countryside, we're so lucky in this country to have such beauty around us.

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  2. Hello Linda,

    What a glorious landscape this is and your photographs have captured the beauty of it so well. Definitely a place to escape from the Madding Crowds and to reconnect with Nature in all its glory. Perfect!

    Such a pity that the weather was not brilliant but your lunch at the Inn sounds to have been a fair compensation!

    When we lived in Herefordshire we would often visit the dams of the Elan Valley in Wales which also made a spectacular sight. In a similar way to how you describe here, whole villages were flooded and at particularly low water the tops of buildings could be seen. It does, as you say, make a somewhat eerie sight!

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  3. Stunning pictures as always Linda. And fascinating to read about the history of the area and the villages that had to be flooded. There is a reservoir in Wales with the remains of a village at the bottom of it too. I forget the name, but remember visiting it several times in my childhood. Very strange indeed when you can see parts of a building sticking up above the water.

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    1. Jane and Lance published their comment at the same time as me... that's it! Elan Valley.

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    2. Thanks Jane and Lance and Jessica for the comparison with the Elan Valley in Wales.

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  4. Hi Linda, I love seeing the reservoirs ---and especially those beautiful valleys all around. Gorgeous!!! But--thinking about those villages which were taken away when the water took over made me sad.... It reminded me of what they did here in Tennessee years ago --when the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) took a lot of home/land by putting in dams/reservoirs here (that is our electric company).... Sad for those who used to live there.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  5. I love the patchwork on the hills and the scenic view is amazing. especailly like all the wooded areas and that photo with the two crooked trees. so beautiful. i would love to wander in those woods but i don't think i would be a keen hill walker. have not seen a hill in about 55 years

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  6. Wonderful, stunning photos Linda of such tranquil beauty and yet one has to think about what the places were like before the reservoirs were built and of all the work that went into their construction. I too was struck by the similarity with the Elan Valley which we visit every year when we go to see a friend who lives in nearby Llandrindod Wells:)

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  7. Love this post, especially as we are very strongly thinking about spending our hols this year in Derbyshire (lots of arm twisting from me). It's not that far away from us really but hubs does not really know much about it apart from passing through very occasionally. The Dam has been on our list of places to visit for a long time now and funnily enough, we fished out our copy of The Dam Busters to watch last week. When he gets in I'm showing him your post (more arm twisting!) Suzy x

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  8. I love these photos! So beautiful. xo

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  9. This is a very beautiful place considering the traumatic past that it has had in so many ways. It is interesting to read about the history and to be able to imagine it with the help of your lovely photos so thank you for this Linda. xx

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  10. Now this would be a lovely place for a picnic. Do people swim in the water?
    It looks so pretty all about.

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    1. The reservoirs are definitely not waters to swim in. They hold millions of cubic metres of deep water and it would be very dangerous to try to swim there. It's an area where one can take a walk or enjoy the designated picnic area near the visitors' centre.

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  11. Oh....you can't beat a log fire and a hot scrummy lunch when it's chilly!
    What beautiful pics, and how interesting about the valley being flooded and the Dam-buster pilots practicing there! I LOVED the woodland walks! Lovely post.xxx

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  12. You have LadyBower. We have Saylorville Lake :) Nothing more exciting than water rushing from the gate when they decide to lower the water level a bit...grandsons love the excitement.

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  13. Gorgeous, beautiful countryside. You live in the most beautiful country.
    Cindy

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  14. Such a tranquil spot which you've captured with some stunning photos Linda. x

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