Ladybower Reservoir

Ladybower Reservoir is a large Y-shaped reservoir, the lowest of three in the Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, England. The River Ashop flows into the reservoir from the west; the River Derwent flows south, initially through Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir, and finally through Ladybower Reservoir.

The area is now a tourist attraction, with the Fairholmes visitors' centre located at the northern tip of Ladybower. The east arm of the reservoir, fed by the Ladybower Brook, is overlooked by Hordron Edge stone circle.[3]

Ladybower Reservoir
Ladybower Reservoir from Bamford Edge (seen in the foreground); the wall can be seen in the bottom left and the Ashopton Viaduct in the top centre
LocationUpper Derwent Valley, Derbyshire
Coordinates53°23′N 1°43′W / 53.383°N 1.717°WCoordinates: 53°23′N 1°43′W / 53.383°N 1.717°W
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsRiver Ashop, River Derwent
Primary outflowsRiver Derwent
Catchment area6,364 acres (2,575 ha)
Basin countriesUnited Kingdom
Max. length2.5 mi (4.0 km)
Max. width1,950 ft (590 m)
Surface area210 ha (520 acres)[1]
Average depth95 ft (29 m)
Max. depth135 ft (41 m)
Water volume27,800,000 m3 (6.1×109 imp gal)[1]
Shore length113 mi (21 km)
Surface elevation668 ft (204 m)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Design and construction

Ladybower Viaduct
The Ladybower Viaduct which carries the A6013 road to Bamford.

Ladybower was built between 1935 and 1943 by the Derwent Valley Water Board to supplement the other two reservoirs in supplying the water needs of the East Midlands. It took a further two years to fill (1945). The dam differs from the Howden Reservoir and Derwent Reservoir in that it is a clay-cored earth embankment, and not a solid masonry dam. Below the dam is a cut-off trench 180 feet (55 m) deep and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide filled with concrete, stretching 500 feet (150 m) into the hills each side, to stop water leaking round the dam. The dam wall was built by Richard Baillie and Sons, a Scottish company. The two viaducts, Ashopton and Ladybower, needed to carry the trunk roads over the reservoir were built by the London firm of Holloways, using a steel frame clad in concrete. The project was delayed when the Second World War broke out in 1939, making labour and raw materials scarce, but construction was continued due to the strategic importance of maintaining supplies. King George VI, accompanied by Queen Elizabeth, formally opened the reservoir on 25 September 1945.

During the 1990s the wall was raised and strengthened to reduce the risk of over-topping in a major flood. The original dam wall contains 100,000 tons of concrete, over one million tons of earth and 100,000 tons of clay for the core. The upstream face is stone faced. Materials were brought to the site on the Derwent Valley Water Board's own branch line and their sidings off the main line in the Hope Valley.

The dam's design is unusual in having two totally enclosed bellmouth overflows[4] (locally named the "plugholes") at the side of the wall. These are stone and of 80 feet (24 m) diameter with outlets of 15 feet (4.6 m) diameter. Each discharges via its own valve house at the base of the dam. The overflows originally had walkways around them, but they were dismantled many years ago. The bell mouths are often completely out of the water and are only rarely submerged, often after heavy rainfall or flooding.

Water usage

Northern branch of the Ladybower Reservoir, showing aqueduct

The water is used for river control and to compensate for the water retained by all three dams, along with supply into the drinking water system and hydroelectricity generation.[5] Drinking water must be pumped to treatment works rather than using gravity flow as in the other two reservoirs, increasing costs.[6] The drinking water is treated at Bamford water treatment works by Severn Trent Water. Treated water flows south down the 28 miles (45 km) long Derwent Valley Aqueduct to a covered service reservoir at Ambergate to supply clean water to the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in the East Midlands of England. The aqueduct passes through the park of Chatsworth House. The path of the aqueduct is marked by a series of valve houses built of stone and domed steel access chambers. A tunnel carries some of the water from the Derwent Valley eastwards through the hill and into the lower of the two Rivelin Dams to supply Sheffield.

Flooded villages

Church tower at Ladybower Reservoir
The church tower of Derwent slowly disappearing below the water as the reservoir was filled in 1946

The building of the reservoir resulted in the submergence of the villages of Ashopton and Derwent, including Derwent Woodlands church and Derwent Hall. Ashopton stood roughly where the road to the Snake Pass met the Snake valley. The buildings in Ashopton were demolished before the reservoir was filled, but much of the structure of Derwent village was still visible during a dry summer some 14 years later. The narrow stone Packhorse Bridge over the Derwent was removed and rebuilt at the head of the Howden reservoir. The clock tower of the church had been left standing and the upper part of it was visible above the water level until 1947, when it was seen as a hazard and demolished with explosives on 15 December.[7]

In 1976, 1995 and 2018, dry conditions caused the water level to drop and the village of Derwent to once again be exposed.[8] In 2018, this caused unprecedented crowds to visit the rarely visible site. On 3 November 2018 a man had to be rescued by a mountain rescue team after getting stuck in extremely thick mud around the ruins of the village.[8] On 17 November 2018 it was reported that the site had been vandalised by some of those visiting, with park rangers forced to stop visitors removing items from the site and with graffiti scrawled on some buildings.[9]


Ladybower Reservoir

The reservoir

Ladybower Reservoir Outlet overflow

Overflow for the Ladybower Reservoir in full flow, May 2006

Ladybower Reservoir Outlet

Overflow for the Ladybower Reservoir

Ladybower view

View from the Ladybower Wall across the water

Ladybower Overflow Valve Houses

Ladybower Overflow valve-houses

Ladybower Reservoir From Above

Layout of the Ladybower Reservoir

See also


  1. ^ a b Harwood, Stephen (September 2000). "Severn Trent Water, The Ladybower Reservoir Dam Refurbishment Scheme" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  2. ^ Walls across the Valley, Page 254 Table 2
  3. ^ "Pastscape - Detailed Result: MONUMENT NO. 312213". Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  4. ^ Bellmouth in action
  5. ^ Dent, Martin. "Severn Trent Water's Hydro Expansion" (PDF). Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  6. ^ The Upper Catchment
  7. ^ The Story of the lost villages of Derwent and Ashopton: Harry Gill 1947
  8. ^ a b "Low water levels reveal abandoned village". BBC News. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Rarely seen abandoned village vandalised". BBC News. 25 November 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.

Further reading

  • Robinson, Brian (1993). Walls across the Valley: The building of the Howden and Derwent Dams. Cromford: Scarthin. ISBN 978-0-907758-57-0.

External links

Alport Castles

The Alport Castles are a landslip feature in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire. At over half a mile long, it is thought to be the largest landslide in the United Kingdom. The name "castles" comes from the debris from the landslide, which has produced several gritstone mounds that tower over the valley and appear from the distance to look like castles. Viewed from a distance the largest of these, the "Tower", resembles a full-scale motte and bailey castle.

The Alport Castles are on the eastern side of the River Alport valley, part of the National Trust's High Peak Estate; they lie north of the Snake Pass and north-west of Ladybower Reservoir.


Ashopton was a small village in Derbyshire, England, in the vale of the River Ashop. The village population was less than 100. Details are included in the civil parish of Aston, Derbyshire. In the early 1940s, the village (along with neighbouring Derwent) was demolished to make way for the filling of Ladybower Reservoir.

Crook Hill

Crook Hill is a small hill in the Peak District National Park in the English county of Derbyshire, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of Castleton.

Cropston Reservoir

Cropston Reservoir (originally known as Bradgate Reservoir) lies in Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, England. The dam and associated water works are in Cropston, while the bulk of the reservoir is in the neighbouring Newtown Linford parish. It was opened in May 1871 in a corner of Bradgate Park, a large expanse of open land northwest of Leicester. It is part of the 987-acre (399.3 ha) Bradgate Park and Cropston Reservoir Site of Special Scientific Interest.London-based consulting engineer Thomas Hawksley was appointed by Leicester Water Works in 1865 to carry out the surveying work. In September 1867, 180 acres (73 ha) of land adjacent to the deer park at Bradgate Park was purchased from the Earl of Stamford for a cost of £24,000. A stone wall was built by George Rudkin around the boundary to separate the deer park from the reservoir, at a cost of 8s 10d per yard. The dam is 760 yards (690 m) long and rises to a height of 51 feet (16 m) at its highest point, which gives a depth of water of 38 feet (12 m). The cost of the dam was £41,356 and the reservoir £8,500 with the contract being awarded to Benton & Woodiwiss of Derby. The reservoir was completed in 1870. The dam was originally constructed from a mixture of siliceous sand and clay, but as water was found to be leaking through it, it was rebuilt and now extends 40 feet (12 m) below the surface. Water from the reservoir was piped to four large filter beds. It was then pumped to an elevation matching the supply from Thornton Reservoir so that the supplies from the two reservoirs could be merged.The reservoir is formed by the River Lin and is owned and managed by Severn Trent. The growing population of Leicester and surrounding areas meant that by the late 19th century the reservoirs in Leicestershire were no longer adequate to meet demand, and water is now piped from Ladybower Reservoir to Cropston.

Derwent, Derbyshire

Derwent is a village 'drowned' in 1944 when the Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire, England was created. The village of Ashopton, Derwent Woodlands church and Derwent Hall were also 'drowned' in the construction of the reservoir.

Derwent Edge

Derwent Edge is a Millstone Grit escarpment that lies above the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District National Park in the English county of Derbyshire. An Ordnance Survey column marks the highest point of the Edge at Back Tor (538 metres, 1765 feet). North of Back Tor the edge extends into Howden Edge and enters the county of South Yorkshire.

Derwent Reservoir (Derbyshire)

Derwent Reservoir is the middle of three reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley in the northeast of Derbyshire, England. It lies approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Glossop and 10 miles (16 km) from Sheffield. The River Derwent flows first through Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir and finally through Ladybower Reservoir. Between them they provide practically all of Derbyshire's water, as well as to a large part of South Yorkshire and as far afield as Nottingham and Leicester.

Derwent Reservoir is around 1.5 miles (2 km) in length, running broadly north–south, with Howden Dam at the northern end and Derwent Dam at the south. A small island lies near the Howden Dam. The Abbey Brook flows into the reservoir from the east.

At its full capacity the reservoir covers an area of 70.8 hectares (175 acres) and at its deepest point is 34.7 metres (114 ft) deep.

Derwent Valley Heritage Way

The Derwent Valley Heritage Way (DVHW) is a 55 miles (89 km) walk along the Derwent Valley from Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District National Park via Chatsworth, the scenery around the Derbyshire Dales, and through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. It follows the Riverside Path through Derby and continue onwards to the historic inland port of Shardlow. Journey's end is at Derwent Mouth where the River Derwent flows into the River Trent.

Hordron Edge stone circle

Hordron Edge stone circle, also known as 'The Seven Stones of Hordron' is a Bronze Age stone circle (grid reference SK2152486851) in Derbyshire, England. It is on the edge of Moscar Moor. Ladybower reservoir is to the west, and Moscar Cross is to the northeast. Seven stones are presently (2017) visible with a further three stones, now recumbent and hidden discovered in 1992. Some authorities believe that the circle might have once comprised 26 stones.The stone circle is approximately 15 to 16 m (49 to 52 ft) in diameter, with eleven stones between 45 cm and 95 cm high extant upright.

River Alport

The River Alport flows for 9 km in the Dark Peak of the Peak District in Derbyshire, England. Its source is on Bleaklow, from which it flows south through the Grains in the Water swamp, then over gritstone to Alport Bridge on the A57 Snake Pass route from Sheffield to Manchester, where it joins the River Ashop, which flows into the Ladybower Reservoir about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) down the valley.

The course of the river includes three small waterfalls. At its southern end lie the remains of a tunnel constructed to carry water to a planned but unbuilt cotton mill. A weir was built on the river in about 1922 and a short watercourse added to feed the water into the Ashop weir located upstream of the confluence. The water was then culverted along the valley to the Ashop Siphon near Hagg Farm, where it then crossed over the River Ashop in a 6-foot-diameter (1.8 m) steel pipe 273 yards (250 m) long, passed through a 1,065-yard (974 m) tunnel under the hill and then via another open watercourse of 761 yards (696 m) to discharge into the Derwent Reservoir a few yards north of the dam wall. The outlet is visible from the viewing area.The valley of the Alport contains some farmland, but the banks of the valley are mostly coniferous plantations and heath. The coniferous plantations are being converted to semi-natural deciduous woodland. The small hamlet of Alport lies on the west bank near the southern end of the river. On the eastern bank lies the Alport Castles landslide.

River Ashop

The River Ashop is a river in the Derbyshire Peak District, England. Its source is on the eastern slopes of Mill Hill, three miles south east of Glossop and just north of Kinder Scout.

The river flows approximately ten kilometres east, following the Sheffield to Manchester Snake Pass road through remote countryside, before emptying into Ladybower Reservoir, which itself flows into the River Derwent.

The only significant tributary of the River Ashop is the short River Alport. The flow of the Alport is partially diverted by a weir to feed into the Ashop above the impound weir built in the 1920s to increase the catchment area of the Derwent Reservoir prior to the building of the Ladybower Reservoir downstream. The weir impounded the water and fed it into an open culvert (water conduit) that was built along the side of the hill. The culvert then feeds into a siphon over the river in a 6-foot-diameter (1.8 m) iron pipe before entering a tunnel to pass through the hill to the Derwent Reservoir via an open watercourse, entering the reservoir just north of the dam wall. The concrete structure of the weir is visible when travelling up the Snake Pass route from Sheffield.

River Derwent, Derbyshire

The Derwent is a river in Derbyshire, England. It is 66 miles (106 km) long and is a tributary of the River Trent, which it joins south of Derby. Throughout its course, the river mostly flows through the Peak District and its foothills.

Much of the river's route, with the exception of the city of Derby, is rural. However the river has also seen many human uses, and between Matlock and Derby was one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution, providing power to the first industrial scale cotton mills. Today it provides a water supply to several surrounding cities, and its steeply sided valley is an important communications corridor through the uplands of the Peak District.Because of its scenic qualities, the valley of the River Derwent sees many tourist visitors. The upper reaches pass through the Peak District National Park, whilst the middle reaches around the old spa town of Matlock Bath which attracts tourists because of its souvenir shops and amusement arcades, together with attractions such as the Heights of Abraham and its cable car.

River Noe

The River Noe is a tributary of the River Derwent in Derbyshire, England. It flows approximately 12 miles (19 km) from its source, the confluence of two streams running off Kinder Scout in the Peak District, east through Edale and then southeast through the village of Hope.

The river flows into the River Derwent a kilometre south of Bamford. The entire length of the river is closely followed by the Hope Valley (Manchester to Sheffield) railway line.

The portion of the river downstream of Hope, along with the valley of the River Noe's main tributary, Peakshole Water, is known as the Hope Valley.Like many rivers in Derbyshire, the Noe was used historically to power water mills, originally these were mainly corn mills but during the industrial revolution some were rebuilt for other uses.

One example of this was the cotton mill at Edale; built in the late 18th century it shares a common design with other mills of the period, including multiple floors with large windows and a shallow pitched roof. There was also a corn and saw mill at Hope, driven by an 11 ft water wheel.At Brough there were a number of mills that used the Noe, including a lace-thread doubling mill, a cotton mill and the corn mill (pictured). The corn mill is notable in that water powered milling came to an end in 1954, when the flow of the Noe was reduced by the upstream diversion scheme. This was constructed to provide additional inflows for Ladybower Reservoir by the Derwent Valley Water Board.

Snake Pass

Snake Pass is a hill pass in the Derbyshire section of the Peak District, crossing the Pennines between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton. The road was engineered by Thomas Telford and opened in 1821. The pass carries the A57 road between Manchester and Sheffield, but it is no longer the main signposted route between those two cities.

Like several other roads that cross the Pennines, Snake Pass has a poor accident record compared with roads in the UK generally, although more favourable compared with other roads in the area. It is regularly closed in winter because of snow, and has seen several longer-term closures owing to subsidence following heavy rain. The road remains a popular route for tourists and motorcycles, however, and sections have been used for semi-professional cycling races such as the Tour of Britain.

Staunton Harold Reservoir

Staunton Harold Reservoir is a large reservoir under the management of Severn Trent Water, located between Melbourne and Ticknall in Derbyshire, England. Most of the water is within Derbyshire but a small part of the southern shore is over the border in Leicestershire.

The reservoir was built in 1964 at the behest of the River Dove Water Board, meant to serve Leicester and the towns of northern Leicestershire. Although no villages were lost in the construction of the reservoir, Furnace Farm, New England Farm and Calke Mill were submerged; their remains lie 25 metres below the surface. The dam wall is a clay core construction, similar to the dam wall at Ladybower Reservoir. Part of the shoreline border the Calke Abbey estate, as well as the National Forest. The reservoir has a total surface area of 209 acres (0.85 km2).

Staunton Harold hosts a natural habitat for much bird and plant life, and is also home to Dimmingsdale Nature Reserve. There is also a sailing club, a visitors' centre and a children's adventure playground available to visitors. A non-functioning windmill dominates the skyline close to the visitors' centre called Tower Windmill, built in 1797 by the first Lord Melbourne at a cost of £250.

Thornhill, Derbyshire

Thornhill is a village and civil parish in the county of Derbyshire, England, in the Peak District, south of Ladybower Reservoir and east of Castleton. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 154.

Upper Derwent Valley

The Upper Derwent Valley is an area of the Peak District National Park in England. It largely lies in Derbyshire, but its north eastern area lies in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Its most significant features are the Derwent Dams, Ladybower, Derwent and Howden, which form Ladybower Reservoir, Derwent Reservoir and Howden Reservoir respectively.

Win Hill

Win Hill lies north west of Bamford in the Derbyshire Peak District of England. At 462 m (1,516 ft), it is almost surrounded by the River Derwent to the east, the River Noe to the south west and Ladybower Reservoir to the north, but a ridge running north west links it to Kinder Scout. The Roman road from Glossop over the Snake Pass crosses the ridge to the north and descends to Hope and the old Roman base of Brough in the Hope Valley, with the Hope Cross, a marker post dating from 1737, at the highest point of the road.

On top of Win Hill lies Win Hill Pike, locally known as the Pimple. Win Hill Pike has an Ordnance Survey triangulation point, or trig point. Sometimes misnamed the Old Witches Knoll, Win Hill Pike is often used for a Duke of Edinburgh Award station.

Win Hill is commonly ascended from Yorkshire Bridge or Hope. The ascent from Yorkshire Bridge is a steep climb of 300 metres (980 ft) in 1.2 km (3⁄4 mi) by Parkin Clough, first through woods then over the moor to the top. Routes from Hope are gentler, either via Twitchill Farm or the villages of Aston and Thornhill. Depending on direction of travel, Win Hill is either the first or last hill on the Derwent Watershed and Edale Horseshoe challenge walks.

With around 144 m (472 ft) of relative height, Win Hill is only a few metres short of qualifying as a Marilyn.

The hill's counterpart, Lose Hill, lies to the west. In relatively recent times, the two hills' names have prompted a fanciful tale concerning the outcome of an imagined battle. There is no historical basis for the tale whatsoever, and no evidence of any battle ever being fought here.

A local legend cites Win Hill, and Lose Hill on the opposite side of the River Noe, as the site of a 7th-century battle between the forces of Edwin of Northumbria and Cynegils of Wessex. Edwin's forces occupied Win Hill, while Cynegils' men camped on Lose Hill. As the battle progressed, Cynegils' forces advanced up Win Hill, and Edwin's retreated behind a temporary wall they had built near the summit. They pushed the boulders of the wall downhill, crushing the Wessex soldiers and gaining victory in the battle. However, there is a more prosaic explanation for the name: Win Hill was originally recorded as Wythinehull, meaning "Withy Hill" or "Willow Hill". Fragments of willow can still be found in the otherwise largely coniferous plantation on the approach from Yorkshire Bridge.

Yorkshire Bridge

Yorkshire Bridge is a small hamlet at grid reference SK200850 near the Ladybower Reservoir dam in the English county of Derbyshire. Administratively the area forms part of the civil parish of Bamford and the district of High Peak. The people who built the Ladybower Dam wall lived in the houses at Yorkshire Bridge.

The settlement is named after a packhorse bridge, which crosses the River Derwent to the south of the dam of the Ladybower Reservoir from which the river has emerged and north of the village of Thornhill.

It has also given its name to a public house on the nearby A6013 road that is popular with walkers. The Derwent Valley Heritage Way has its northern terminus in the woods overlooking the reservoir.

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