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Bicycle ride around Carsington Reservoir. Derbyshire Peak District cycling

A circuit of Carsington reservoir, on the southern edge of the Peak District. Because this route circumnavigates a reservoir you might imagine it is pretty level, but the eastern leg of the route is actually quite hilly.

Carsington Reservoir Circuit

Slideshow360 degree view

Route Info
Difficulty level: 2  (1 to 5 scale)
Distance: 15.00 km
Estimated time: 2.5 hours - excluding stops
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map sheet(s): 119
See start location on Streetmap

This route starts from the Severn Trent visitor centre at Carsington Water, near Knockerdown, signposted from the Ashbourne - Wirksworth road the B5035. There is ample parking (pay and display) and the visitor centre is quite interesting. However, you could equally start from Millfields parking and picnic area at the south-east corner of the reservoir or Shepherds parking and picnic area at the north end of the reservoir.

You might imagine that cycling around a reservoir would be nice and level. This is the case with the first leg, which goes across the dam from the visitor centre to Millfields, but most of the rest of the route is surprisingly hilly, as the track climbs over little spurs between the numerous small creeks which run into the reservoir. Some of the inclines are surprisingly steep, though none are very long. The route is extremely well marked and for the most part has a pretty good surface, though the sections through the woods can be pretty slippery. For this reason a mountain bike is much to be preferred over a road bike, especially in winter.

The only part where it is possible to get lost is in the Visitor Centre car park. Head south and follow the signs to the Sailing Club, which you pass just on your left to take a track which exits the far end of the car park and then heads off just below the road. Follow this to the end of the dam and continue cycling across the dam, taking care to avoid the pedestrians and Canada geese.

At the end of the dam turn left into Millfields car park and cycle through the picnic area to continue out along the track alongside the reservoir. After a little under a kilometre you climb an incline to reach a T-junction at an unmade road. The track turns left here, but if you wish, you could divert right here to go to the secluded little village of Kirk Ireton, which has a very pleasant public house. Anyway, putting temptation aside, follow the trail signs and take the unmade road downhill before turning right again along the trail.

The next section winds its way around the hillside and the woods before emerging at another T-junction, this time with a small metalled road, at Upperfield Farm. Turn left again and descend towards the lake before the trail turns off to the right on the edge of the woods.

The section from here to the head of the reservoir is fairly hard work, a lot of it in quite dense woods, with little in the way of views and with numerous short hills. Finally you emerge at the head of the lake and the B5035 road. The trail turns left to run alongside the road for a short distance and then crosses the road, following a track up into the small village of Hopton, the ancestral home of the Gell family, who were local bigwigs and lead-mine owners.

Cycle along the road, which makes a pleasant change after the trail through the woods, past Home Farm and Hopton Hall, and then into the pleasant village of Carsington, which has a pub (the Miners Arms - lead mining was once big in this area) where refreshment may be sought.

Soon after the pub the road turns sharp left and heads back to the B5035. When you reach it cross straight over and pick up the trail again, which goes just round the right-hand side of Shepherd's car park. The trail heads uneventfully but undulatingly back to the Visitor Centre.

See start location on

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Carsington Reservoir Circuit Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Carsington Water Visitor Centre
0 - Carsington Water Visitor Centre
Carsington Water
1 - Carsington Water
Carsington Water and boats
2 - Carsington Water and boats
Carsington Water Dam
3 - Carsington Water Dam

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