This fine route along Derwent Edge overlooking Ladybower and Derwent Reservoir has everything you could desire of a walk in the Peak - excellent views and fine situations. It starts and finishes at Fairholmes, the visitor centre for the Derwent Dams which Severn Trent Water and the Peak National Park jointly operate. There is ample car parking here and a regular bus service from Sheffield.
It is also possible combine this with the walk along Hagg Side and Crook Hill
to make a complete circuit of the upper part of Ladybower reservoir. This is a long day, taking about 6 hours.
View from the south part of Derwent Edge
Start from the Visitor Centre at Fairholmes and take the private road which passes below Derwent Dam. Continue along this road as it trends rightwards, heading for the far side of Ladybower reservoir. The road climbs up and meets another surfaced road coming in from the left, but you should ignore this and continue heading down the east bank of Ladybower, through the remnants of Derwent Village.
This was once a thriving village with a hall and a large church, but it was drowned by the construction of Ladybower and now only a few houses remain. Note the former school on your left. The hall was demolished before inundation but for many years the church spire remained sticking out of the water like Excalibur. It was blown up as a safety risk in the 1960s.
Once past the houses the tarmac surface disappears and the track describes a loop to cross over a stream coming down from the left. Continue past this another 400m until you come to a gate in the track. On your left there is a gate and a sign for a bridleway to Moscar. Take this path, which climbs quickly up the hillside.
The path goes up past some farm buildings then crosses a stream and heads up rightwards to reach the edge of a wood. It then continues up the edge of the wood, climbing steeply. This is a popular route with mountain bikers, so you will probably see several of them.
At the top of the wood the path continues across open country to reach a gateway in a wall. It then turns right and follows this wall, contouring across the hillside. Almost immediately a path branches off on the left - this leads up onto Derwent Edge, but if you take it you will miss the best views, so we shall ignore it.
Continue for about a kilometre along the bridleway, following the wall until you come to a T-junction. Turn left, following the bridleway onto the ridge above at Whinstone Lee. This gives you a good view over Ladybower, but the best view is actually from a small knoll called Lead Hill which is 400m to the south, so we recommend a short diversion down here, because the view is magnificent. Then retrace your steps to the bridleway, cross it and follow the ridge northwards towards Wheel Stones, which you can see in the distance.
The hard work done, you can now walk along Derwent Edge and enjoy the view. The path heads up to the Wheel Stones, the Salt Cellar and Dovestone Tor, keeping close to the edge all the way. You can admire the marvellous shapes of these gritstone tors - some of the most knarled and weather-beaten of any rocks in the Peak, toughened outcrops which have survived the blast of the elements - so far. Meanwhile, the view of the Derwent valley is excellent.
After Dovestone Tor the edge softens and loses its sharpness and the section across to Back Tor is very boggy. Fortunately for the walker it has been paved to curb further erosion and damage to the environment, so the walking is quite easy. Just before Back Tor you cross the head of the Foulstone Delf path coming up from Strines and then short climb takes you to the rocky summit, capped by a trig point which on a good day can be seen for miles.
View from far up the Derwent Valley
From Back Tor head north-west down the ridge to a spur called Lost Lad, where a panoramic viewpoint marks one of the best spots to view the Upper Derwent, and then turn westwards to follow the continuation ridge down towards Derwent Reservoir. There is a good track which soon branches (take the right fork) and then follows a wall down the ridge before turning left at a wall junction and descending quite steeply towards the trees below. Cross another path which contours around the hillside and continue down steeply to the trees and zigzag through these to reach the reservoir.
The reservoirs form an impenetrable barrier for anyone wanting to do anything but a very long circuit of the Upper Derwent, so turn left along the unmade road which follows the west side of the reservoir and take the path beneath Derwent Dam back to Fairholmes, where you can have a well-deserved cup of tea at the excellent cafe.