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Walking trail - Howden Reservoir

If you’re after a relaxing walk which allows you to soak up some of the Peak District’s natural beauty, without climbing a single hill, the walk to Howden Dam is absolutely the one for you.


If you’re after a relaxing walk that allows you to soak up some of the Peak District’s natural beauty, without climbing a single hill, the walk to Howden Dam is absolutely the one for you.

DISTANCE: Approximately 5 miles


A little background knowledge:

Howden Reservoir is the top of a collection of three reservoirs, known as Upper Derwent Valley. This is comprised of Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs – all of which come with quirks and charms of their own.

For example, Ladybower Reservoir was built on the site of Derwent and Ashopton villages, and for a long time, when the reservoir was low, you could still see the church spire emerging from the water!

An interesting fact about Howden, which is the reservoir we’ll explore here, is that one half lies in South Yorkshire, whilst the others in Derbyshire. The county line runs exactly through the middle of the reservoir, which was originally the River Derwent itself.

Howden Dam, one of the highlights of walking these reservoirs, was completed in July 1912, just two years after the project was started.

Starting Point: Fairholmes Car Park, S33 0AQ

There is a bus which leaves Sheffield Interchange and goes straight to Fairholmes car park; it leaves once a day on weekdays and a few times on Saturday mornings.

Fairholmes car park offers food, refreshments and has toilets.

Trail directions

Step 1

Arriving at Fairholmes car park, you’re already surrounded by wonderful woodland and the Derwent Reservoirs are close by, so get ready for an adventure right from the get-go!

Here you can either walk down past Ladybower (which you will have seen on the drive down) or walk on up to Howden Reservoir, which is the route we’ll be taking.

Step 2

Follow signs for the Derwent Dam and be on the lookout for interesting shelf fungi growing on some of the trees!

Along this path you’ll reach a fork, turning right here first gets you a better view of Derwent Dam. You’ll come right up close to the famous Derwent Dam- a pretty impressive sight from every angle.

If you want to walk past the dam, there are some steps alongside it going up to the top, follow them for a great view of the reservoir above.

It’s also a great spot for snapping some pics of birds and wildlife of the area.

Step 3

There’s no round route here, so retrace your steps until you get back to the fork, and take the alternative path, leading deeper into the woods.

Here’s where you start walk around the edge of the Upper Derwent Reservoir itself, combining the calmness of still water, woodland and also stunning views of the Peak District hills in the distance.

It is possible in places to walk right down to the water, so lookout for well-trodden paths down as this gives an even more tranquil feel to the walk.

Step 4

Finally you’ll get to Howden Dam which is one of the most photographic parts of the entire route. Again, here you can walk right down to the water as long as you’re careful with your step.

This is the pinnacle of the walk, so all that’s left is to walk back along the same path and back towards the car park.

Step 5

Once back at Fairholmes, if you did want to see Ladybower all you have to do is walk back down past the car park and down some steps, you can’t miss it!

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