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The Derwent Valley Heritage away is a 55 mile footpath following the River Derwent from Lady Bower Reservoir in North Derbyshire to the mouth of the river at Shardlow; an inland port where there is a triple confluence of the Trent and Mersey Canal with the Rivers Derwent and Trent.

Having rediscovered our love of the Peak District during 2020 we decided that we would set ourselves the challenge to walk this route over 10 weeks.

You can find out more about the history of the route and purchase a copy of the book we are using from The Derwent Valley Trust website here:

Week One: Heatherdene to Leadmill Bridge

The first section of the walk is approximately 5.7 miles walking downstream from the stunning Ladybower Reservoir, following an old railway line and the following the river bank all the way to Leadmill.

As we have little legs with us and public transport can we hit and miss we took two cars so we could leave one in Hathersage and one at Ladybower.

After parking at Ladybower we walked down to cross the dam, make sure you take time here to take in the views both to the North and South here as it really is a stunning area!

Ladybower Reservior

Looking down the Derwent Valley from the dam at Ladybower

As you leave the dam, you will see a Touchstone with the theme of ‘water’ which is part of a sculpture trail established by the villagers of Bamford to mark the millennium.

Molly and Sophie with the 'water' touchstone

Form here the path follows the Thornhill Trail which is the route of an old railway line that brought the stones to build the dam during its construction from 1935 to 1939. This route is above the water level but has lovely views as it leads you down towards Bamford and a further touchstone on the theme of ‘earth’ is found along this route as well.


The railway ends shortly after crossing a minor road and the village of Bamford becomes visible across the valley as the path leads you down to a beautiful house which was the Derwent Valley Water Board headquarters but is now owned by the Quaker Community.

The house that was the Derwent Valley Water Board Headquarters

From here we walked across fields and under the railway to reach the village of Shatton where we cross the road and then follow the riverbank down towards Leadmill.

Dave, Molly & Sophie under the railway bridge

There are several great spots to picnic along this stretch of the river and it is quiet here so we found a spot to stop for a picnic before heading on to the horseshoe-shaped stepping stones that cross the river when we walked in this area earlier in the year the stepping stones weren’t visible as the river was high but this time the girls were able to cross them but they had to come back as this route continues along the river becoming narrower before entering Goose Nest Wood – another good spot to stop for a picnic!

As you leave the wood, it is just a short walk to Leadmill Bridge where you can visit the Plough Inn or take a short walk into Hathersage where we stopped at Cintra’s Tea Rooms for hot drinks,cake and millkshakes!