Derwent Reservoir


About The Route

Start at the Fairholmes Visitor Centre in the Upper Derwent Valley, the initial stage of the route is shared with cars, so take care. Head north from the Fairholmes Centre, rising to the level of the dam top of Derwent Reservoir. This dam was started in 1902, a year after the dam at Howden. Easy cycling with great views takes you past the memorial to Tip, who was a sheepdog who kept vigil beside his master's body, after the master perished on Howden Moors.

Dipping in and out of Ouzelden Clough, the road passes close to the site of Birchinlee, or 'Tin Town'. This village was created to house the workers who constructed the dams. Passing beside Howden Dam, the route now circuits a long arm of Howden Reservoir to arrive at the turning circle at Kings Tree, the end of the tarred road. This is a good place to turn around (9 mile/14.5km round trip) as the next section is more challenging.

Black Trail

Beyond the gate the route becomes a rough forest road that climbs gently through the woods above the narrowing tip of Howden Reservoir. At a fork keep right to drop to the old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones. This bridge originally spanned the River Derwent at the hamlet of Derwent, now drowned beneath the waters of Ladybower Reservoir. The structure was rebuilt at this lonely spot on the Howden Moors in the 1940s. Just above the bridge swing sharp right to climb the roughening track along the eastern shore of the reservoir.

The going is pretty rough for a mile (1.6km) or so before a well-graded service road heralds the approach to Howden Dam, particularly colourful in late spring and early summer when the rhododendrons are in full flower. A steep, rougher descent follows before the route comes close to the reservoir edge where steep, grassy banks drop straight into the water, so take care here. The track improves considerably as the route nears Derwent Dam. Passing close to one of the towers, the way develops into a tarred lane and passes the first of some isolated houses.

You can cut short the ride by turning right to pass the foot of Derwent Dam to return to Fairholmes (9.5 miles/15.2km). The main route continues south past St Henry's Chapel, becoming rougher again as it rounds an inlet to an interpretation board describing the now-lost village of Derwent which stood here until the 1940s.

Reaching a gateway, join the tarred lane and drop to the main road. Turn right along the wide cycle path across Ashopton Viaduct, and right again at the far end. endfarend,ollowing the lane back to Fairholmes.

📍 Derwent Reservoir, Consett, County Durham.
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Route Details

Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 15 Mile

Terrain: Tarred Lanes & Rough Mountain Roads

Access: N/A

National Cycle Network: N/A

Useful Tips

Directions Start at the Fairholmes Visitor Centre in the Upper Derwent Valley. This is signposted off the A57 Glossop to Sheffield road, immediately west of Ashopton Viaduct, which crosses the northern arm of Ladybower Reservoir. Fair-holmes is 2 miles (3.2km) along this minor road.

Notes: Take care at the start along a road shared by cars. There are rough tracks on the longer ride. The complete ride is suitable for older family groups using mountain or hybrid-style bikes

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