It’s strange to think that the lakes and forestry of the Derwent Dams, as they are known, are an entirely unnatural and man-made landscape. But nonetheless they are a popular playground for visitors to the Peak District National Park, especially from the neighbouring city of Sheffield. The reservoirs themselves are obviously an introduced feature, and the coniferous forestry plantations which surround them were planted because of a perceived need for water purity. It was thought that human development and grazing sheep might pollute the water flowing into the reservoirs so the trees were planted as a ‘natural’ filter.
The parallel Alport Dale, on the other hand, shows what the Upper Derwent used to look like before the water engineers cast their eyes on its water supply capabilities. And the amazing, spectacular landscape of Alport Castles shows the power of natural erosion in one of the Peak’s most remote and least visited valleys.
To return to the car park, where you started, skirt the right hand side of Hagg Farm, staying on the cobbled path which heads uphill. Continue ascending the cobbled path, which is steep at times, as it bends and twists its way towards the summit. Ignore any other smaller paths to the right or left.
Once you reach the crest of the hill, you will notice a wood to the right and a marker sign for Fairholmes. Follow the marker sign adn the path which descends down through the wood, taking care where the ground is boggy.
Keep going downhill with the sound of the road below becoming louder. You will reach the road approx 50m further south from where you left the road at the start of the walk. Walk back along the road for 100-150m until you reach the car park and visitor centre.
This trail was originally created by Roly Smith for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain. Thanks are also due to Helen Rawling for editing the walk and to Chris Speight FRGS, CGeog, RGS-IBG Trustee for checking the route and providing feedback.
Roly is a keen walker and the author of over 90 books on the British countryside. He has been recently described as one of Britain’s most knowledgeable countryside writers.