UPPER DERWENT VISITOR CENTRE
Ladybower Reservoir is situated in the Upper Derwent Valley at the heart of the Peak National Park, in an area often referred to as the “Lake District of the Peak”. It is surrounded by magnificent countryside where water and woodland, topped by high moors, predominate. In recent years forestry has become an important factor and the sides of the valley have been clothed in conifers. Not surprisingly, the area has become so popular that over two million people visit each year.
The outstanding beauty of the area acts as a magnate for walkers, cyclists, fell-runners and those people who just come to relax and enjoy the countryside. At certain times the road beyond the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre at Fairholmes is closed to help protect the environment and a mini-bus service is operated. Disabled Badge holders are exempt.
At Upper Derwent Visitor Centre bikes can be hired and information about the area obtained. There are also large car parks, toilets and plenty of room for picnics.
The valley was a very attractive location for the storage of water, with its long deep valley and narrow points for dam building. This combined with a high average rainfall, low population level and heavy demand for water from the industrial towns that surrounded the Peak District, made the case for reservoir construction. The Derwent Valley Water Board was set up in 1899 to supply water to Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leicester and the Howden and Derwent Reservoirs were constructed shortly afterwards.
The Howden and Derwent Dams were built early in the 20th century. At that time the demand for water was satisfied and although plans existed for further reservoirs, no further action was taken. But demand continued to grow and the decision was taken to build one very large reservoir, to be called Ladybower. This though entailed the flooding of the villages of Ashopton and Derwent and caused considerable unrest. However, the project went ahead and the villagers were moved to houses built specially for them at Yorkshire Bridge.
The packhorse bridge that stood near to the gates of Derwent Hall, which had a Preservation Order on it, was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Slippery Stones at the head of the Howden Reservoir. All the graves in the churchyard were excavated and the bodies reburied in nearby Bamford churchyard.
A few properties built on slightly higher land, including the Shooting Lodge and former Roman Catholic School, survived. But the majority were demolished and flooded, leaving the church spire eerily poking out above the waters. The flooding was completed in 1945, and the opening ceremony was carried out on Tuesday September 25th 1945 by King George VI. Two years later the church spire was blown up.
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UPPER DERWENT VISITOR CENTRE
The Upper Derwent Visitor Centre, (Tel. 01433 650953) located at Fairholmes, close to the Derwent Dam. Fascinating facts can be found about the area through the interactive displays. Maps, books, postcards and souvenirs can be purchased. Drinks and light refreshments available. Picnic tables. Open weekends only during the first part of the year, daily for the rest of the year.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Castleton Caverns are without doubt the most spectacular collection of caverns in the country. Speedwell (Tel 01433 620512), Blue John (Tel 01433 620638), Treak (Tel 01433 620571) and Peak (Tel 01433 620285).
Ladybower and the Derwent Valley is a very popular area for visitors. The dams in the valley were used by Dr Barnes Wallis and his team to test his bouncing bombs, and the film The Dambusters was partly shot here.
Edale where the Nag’s Head Inn is the traditional starting point of the 270 mile Pennine Way Trail, as it winds its way north to the Scottish border at Kirk Yetholm. The Peak District National Park’s - Field Head Visitor Centre is also here.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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On the 12 December 1953, Tagg, aged 85, went out for the last time with his faithful border collie, Tip, and vanished completely. Despite an exhaustive search neither he, nor his dog could be found. It was not until 15 weeks later that Tagg’s remains were discovered by chance, with the faithful Tip now completely exhausted lying about five yards away. Somehow, Tip had managed to survive heavy snow, biting winds and freezing temperatures on one of the most hostile stretches of moorland in the country.
Tip was carried back to the rescuer’s lorry and later transferred to a caring home, where she was carefully nursed back to health. Once the story became known, Tip became famous not only in this country, but abroad as well. A year later, in May 1955 she died. However, the hearts of those that had heard the story were so greatly touched, that a memorial was erected at the western end of Derwent Dam, in memory of Tip.
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