Friday, 6 April 2012

Carsington Water

A few weeks back we had dinner booked at Kniveton, nr Ashbourne so looking nearby we decided to go for an afternoon walk around Carsington Water.

We were lucky enough to get great weather for our first proper walk of the year and arriving I took the decision that we were going to walk the complete Carsington Water circuit which is about 8 miles.

Carsington Water is a reservoir owned by Severn Trent and is part of a water compensation scheme. Water is pumped in from the River Derwent, stored in Carsington reservoir and returned to the Derwent when the river level would otherwise be too low to allow water extraction to provide our water during the dry summer months.

The reservoir is a great place for anyone to visit and especially has great family facilities. There's a childrens play area, visitor centre, cafe and shop. You can walk, hire bikes, learn to sail or go fishing. It is also a conservation area and as you walk round areas are fenced off to allow the wildlife to thrive, from mammals to birds to plants.

Spring was clearly visible as we began our walk and one of the first things we saw was a small pond, with frogs jumping, swimming and mating everywhere and a huge clump of frogspawn. The trees and bushes were alive with birds, tweeting and chirping their warnings as we passed. I have no clue which birds are which despite my mum and gran knowing them all so if birds are your thing check out Carsington Water on the RSPB site to see what you could see.

It's a fairly easy, waymarked route walking anti-clockwise round the reservoir. For a while you leave the edge of the reservoir climbing a small hill, past some lovely houses. At this point our sausage sandwiches were calling but we were beaten to each bench by other walkers and cyclists meaning it was another hour or so before we got to eat! About halfway round is a really unusual feature – make sure you stop for a quick rest in the small wooden house you come across.

The end of the walk is along the wide, low dam wall. Its pretty exposed to the elements so the jumpers and coats went back on as it was still March and quite windy here. Once back at the visitor centre we enjoyed a well earned cuppa surrounded by sparrows.

Carsington Water was a real unexpected surprise of a walk that I'd definitely recommend. The main car park was around a fiver I think and is a great place to park for the facilities. But if you prefer cheaper park at Sheepwash or Millfields car parks or of course go green and get the bus from Ashbourne, Wirksworth, Matlock or Chesterfield.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Peak District walk that's a piece of cake

A CHANCE to sample the beauty of the Peak District - and its cakes - is being offered next month to raise funds for a countryside campaign group.
The Three Cakes Challenge, on Sunday, April 15, follows a three mile route along the Monsal Trail that includes three cake stops and ends with a treasure hunt in the gardens of Thornbridge Hall near Ashford-in-the-Water.
Among the walkers will be Rachel Rennie, a volunteer with Friends of the Peak District, and her three-year-old son, Bruce.
Rachel, who graduated recently from Sheffield Hallam University, grew up in the village of Litton, and has now moved back there.
“I moved to the Peak District when I was five years old and I have loved it ever since,” she said. “I love the way the landscapes change so dramatically in different weather and seasons. I never take the beauty of this area for granted and I got involved with Friends of the Peak District because I wanted to help protect the Peak District from threats to the countryside and its communities.”
The walk is open to people of all ages and abilities, and proceeds will go to Friends’ work in protecting the local countryside.
“Bruce is a good little walker, so the three mile route should be a doddle for him,” said Rachel. “He is very excited about finding the treasure at Thornbridge Hall! I’m looking forward to seeing the gardens, and some beautiful scenery, not to mention the cakes!”
The Three Cakes Challenge starts from Thornbridge Hall at 11.30am. Entry is £6, and free for under 5s. Tel 266 5822 or see
It is one of three routes in the Friends’ ‘Magnificent Walk’ day. The others are seven and 21 miles.