Located in the Upper Derwent Valley in the Northern part of the Peak District in Derbyshire, Ladybower Reservoir is one of three reservoirs in the valley along with Howden Reservoir and Derwent Reservoir.
Completed at the end of World War II and opened by King George VI in 1945, what makes Ladybower unusual is the two giant plugholes (bellmouth overflows to give them their proper name) used to drain water after heavy rain and flooding from the surrounding hills.
Seeing two huge holes in a reservoir is quite a sight and makes it a spectacular photography location! And just few minutes away is Derwent Dam on Derwent Reservoir… a location used as practice for the Dam Busters during the Second World War.
My first visit was in the summer of 2021, and although it was a spectacular location with some great walking routes, the water levels very low. So while I got some pretty good photos of the scenery and had a great day out, I was disappointed I didn’t get to see the dam or the plugholes in action.
Since that first visit I’ve been back a few times… mostly when travelling to other areas of the Peak District, but I always stop to have a look to see if the plugholes are overflowing. And as yet, nope, nothing.
That was until February 2022… after a few weeks of heavy rain, and having seen some photos on Facebook of the reservoir looking nearly full, I started to get my hopes up.
One helpful chap even posted a link to a website which shows the current water level in the reservoir (link at the end of the blog), and after a couple of days of refreshing the page, I finally saw it… a positive reading, meaning the reservoir was over full… surely that means the water needs to drain away somehow?!
I grabbed my camera, jumped in my car, and raced to the Peak District, excited at what I might see. And when I got there… yes… finally… the reservoir was full, the plugholes were overflowing, and I got to witness the amazing sight!!
And not only that, but heading up to Derwent Dam, the dam was also overflowing with water creating an amazing waterfall effect!
It’s a great location to visit any time of the year… in the summer there are some beautiful views of the lush forests and flowers. But I highly recommend going after some heavy rainfall in the winter, when the water is overflowing and you can see the dam and plugholes in action… they are quite a sight to see!
If you want to join me on my walk here’s a highlights reel of my day…
This is the website where you can track the current water levels… 0 means it’s full, a negative number means it’s below full, and so a positive number means it’s over full and likely to be overflowing. The rating was 0.07 when I was there and took the above photos – https://riverlevels.uk/ladybower-reservoir
You can check current water levels on this website – https://riverlevels.uk/ladybower-reservoir. A level above 0 means it is full and likely overflowing.
Heatherdene car park is right next to the reservoir, postcode S33 0BY, and costs £3 for all day parking. There are also public toilets in the car park.
If the water level of Ladybower reservoir is above 0 on the above link, then it is likely Derwent Dam will be overflowing.
Fairholmes car park is the closest to the dam, also there is Upper Derwent Visitor centre where you can hire bikes. Postcode is S33 0AQ, and costs £3 for up to 2 hours, or £5 for all day parking. There are also public toilets in the car park.
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