The Peak District is full of beautiful sights and interesting places to discover. The Ladybower Reservoir is one of my favourites, with its atmospheric plug holes and pretty maintenance buildings. Throw in a strenuous hike up Win Hill for views across the water and this is my dream day out. This Ladybower reservoir walk is just under 4 miles and should take around two hours to complete.
Win Hill can get pretty busy on a hot day so I advise starting out early or leaving it later in the day. Much of this circular walk is easy taking you through well maintained paths but reaching the peak of Win Hill does require a bit of effort, as does coming back down. Take it slow and most people should be fine with it.
Where to start this Ladybower Walk
You’ll begin this walk at Heatherdene carpark. It’s just across the road from the entrance to the reservoir. You can use the postcode S33 0BY, you’ll see the brown tourist sign just off the A6013 Bamford Road. There are only 60 spaces in the carpark so it can get very busy. During holidays and at weekends aim to arrive as soon as it opens at 9.30am to secure a space. The last time we visited it was £3 for the whole day
The Ladybower Reservoir walk circular route
Exit the carpark and cross over the road. Turn left and walk along the road, keeping the water to your right. After around 500m you should see the some black gates. Go through these which will take you into the actual reservoir.
Keep going straight which will take you across the Ladybower Dam. You’ll pass these gorgeous little structures jutting out into the water.
At the corners of the dam you’ll see plug hole spillways, something Ladybower is famous for. These plug holes are there to drain away any excess water after heavy rain which helps to protect the dam. I, of course, think they look like sink holes to another world. They’re sure to go down well with kids.
Once you’ve reached the end of the dam turn left and head slightly downhill. Follow the well made path keeping the river to your left. You’ll soon see a path to your right. Take that into which will take you into the woods. Keep following this straight through the forest and out the other side. It does get very rocky and steep here. Just keep pushing on, you’re nearing the summit at the top of Win Hill.
Once you reach the peak, head towards the trig point and take in the views of the surrounding Peak District countryside.
You’ll be able to see the 3 mile long Y shape of the Ladybower reservoir. It’s stunning.
Once you’ve caught your breath, find the path on the otherside of the peak and start heading back down. Again this can be a bit steep and muddy on a wet day but you’ll soon reach a rather gentle gradient as you enter the woods.
Pass through the kissing gate into the trees and keep following the path down. You’ll see several signs pointing your way back to Ladybower.
Once you’ve reached the bottom you’ll see the water. Keeping the reservoir on your left keep following the path until you come back to the dam.
Now it’s just a case of retracing your steps across the dam, past the plug holes, through the gates and back along the road to the carpark.
To celebrate completing this Ladybower walk we had booked in to the Ladybower Inn for dinner. To get there we continued along the road, past the entrance to the carpark and across the bridge. This gave up some gorgeous up close views of the reservoir.
As we were a little early we continued our walk up the path behind the Inn searching for some more views. This is a well worth addition to your Ladybower walk, it was another heart pumping climb with sone gorgeous views from the top.
If you want to know more about the origins of the Ladybower reservoir have a look at its page on Wikipedia.
The Ladybower to Win Hill walk with dogs
This is a great one to complete with dogs. They’ll love the interesting climbs, new smells and space to chase sticks. There aren’t really any dog unfriendly gates or styles and we didn’t see any farm animals on the route. Just keep them on leads if you see any cows or sheep and along the road. Please clean up after your dog.
Refreshments and Facilities
There are no public toilets at Heatherdene carpark. If you can have a drink or something to eat at the Ladybower Inn then you can use them. For a great meal after your walk check out this list of pubs near Ladybower and book a table.
Ladybower walk length and time
This hike took us around two hours. Parts of it were a bit steep and need to be taken slowly, stepping with care. It’s about 4 miles and we added another half a mile climbing up behind the Ladybower Inn and back.
The walk with kids
Children who are confident on their feet will love this walk. You’ll be able to pad it out with plenty of stories of trolls living on the dam and sink holes to other worlds. I also think peaks and trig points give little ones a great sense of achievement when they reach the top. This walk is not suitable for pushchairs. If you do want to visit Ladybower with a stroller then a walk around the reservoir is an easy path to tackle.
For another walk nearby in the Peak District try this gorgeous Padley Gorge walk from the Longshaw Estate. Again it takes around two hours and is under four miles.