A day out at Carsington Water holiday cottages

A day out at Carsington Water

Ed Roberts 16 June 2020

Carsington Water has been a very popular tourist spot since the reservoir was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1992. 

This great place has everything you could need for a fun day out in the Peak District – water sports, tourist shops, picnic spots, cafés and wonderful surroundings. There is a visitor centre which has a permanent exhibition explaining the role water plays in our daily lives; there is nothing like a bit of education during our time off! There is a large courtyard outside the centre which is lined with shops selling souvenirs, crafts, books and ceramics so you are bound to pick up holiday gifts and presents for loved ones.

Why visit Carsington Water?

Carsington Water is a local centre for outdoor activities and with there being a sailing club here, there are often lots of boats out on the water which are fun to watch as they come in and out of the harbour. There is a water sports centre where you can hire canoes, paddleboards, rowing boats and dinghies so you can enjoy some time on the water too.

There are lots of opportunities for walking and cycling as well as visiting some of the surrounding towns and villages so remember to take your bikes and helmets to enjoy some adventures on two wheels. You can hire a bicycle here too.

Fun fact: The reservoir is owned and operated by Severn Trent Water and is part of a ‘water compensation’ scheme. This means that water is pumped here from the River Derwent when there is lots of rainfall, stored in the reservoir and returned to the Derwent when the river level would otherwise be too low to allow water extraction for treatment (and drinking) further downstream. No water is actually extracted from Carsington Water itself.

Carsington Water sits in the south-east region of the Peak District and, as well as it being a great attraction, there are some other things in and around the area to enjoy. Here are some things to do in the area of Carsington Water, which may help you decide how to spend a full day here.

Cable cars and wilderness walks

It was in this region, in the 18th century, that the great inventors and builders of the era started the Industrial Revolution, changing the face of textile production forever and leaving a legacy of impressive mills and attractive workers' cottages behind. Enjoy walks alongside the Cromford Canal, a ride in a state-of-the-art cable car across the Derwent Valley to the Heights of Abraham, or cycle along the High Peak Trail.

Since the 18th century, the Heights of Abraham have been a major sightseeing spot for visitors to the area. High above Matlock, you could spend days exploring. The cable cars take you up the hill or you can walk from pavilion to pavilion up the face. It’s well shaded most of the way, cloaking the amazing heights until the big reveal. Other points of great interest are the show caverns: Masson and Rutland. Prospect Tower and Tinker’s Shaft are great for photo opportunities, so make sure the Heights of Abraham are on your Peak District holiday itinerary.

Discover the village of Darley Dale

Darley Dale is one of the highlights of the south-east region of the Peak District. If you love the outdoors, this is a great place to enjoy nature and to admire the impact famous industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth, who lived at Stancliffe Hall, had on the architecture. His legacy includes the Whitworth Centre, which incorporates a hotel, council offices, sports and leisure facilities, and adjoining parkland. In the churchyard is the famous old yew tree; with a girth of 33ft, it is one of the thickest in the country.

A great walk in Darwin Country Park has to be included on any itinerary as the fresh air and beautiful surroundings will only add good things to your day out. The town became popular in the 1800s when the railway arrived and businesses grew up around the station with coal yards, animal feed mills, wood yards and others taking advantage of the easy access to rail transportation. Today, it is a nice welcoming town where time can be spent exploring picturesque streets, ancient buildings, retail therapy and of course, eating! 

Walk the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail

The Derwent Valley Heritage Trail is a 55-mile walk stretching from Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District National Park via the stately Chatsworth Estate. Other sights along the way, as you take in the breathtaking scenery around the Derbyshire Dales, include the impressive Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. You also encounter the Trent Mersey Canal as you follow the Riverside Path through the city of Derby and continue onwards to the historic inland port of Shardlow.

Journey's end is at Derwent Mouth where the Derwent flows into the River Trent. You can both cycle and walk the full length or do it in modest chunks. Public transport is good in the area and serves the trail well, so there's no need for circular walks.

There is nothing better than tucking into delicious pub grub after long walks out and about in Derbyshire. Here are some pubs in the Derwent Valley which would be worth popping into for some home-cooked meals and local ale…

Explore the Amber Valley

The Amber Valley is a place to come and explore historic villages, market towns and stunning Derbyshire countryside and landscapes. Whether you are spending a week here, or a day or two, it is the perfect place to spend time with family and loved ones.

Uncover the area's interesting past and visit one of the historic houses, museums, mills or gardens. Travel through the glorious countryside by car, taking in the sights and stopping off at the welcoming teashops for a bite to eat and a hot chocolate. For those who enjoy a spot of shopping, there are plenty of independent shops and boutiques selling everything from high-end clothing to fresh local food and produce. Energetic activities such as walking, hiking and cycling can all be done too, making this one big adventure playground. After days out exploring, you can enjoy the rich and varied culture with a mix of restaurants, live music, pubs and bars.

Fun fact: Deep in the Amber Valley, Belper is a historic market town that was at the centre of the industrial revolution; you can still see remnants of the mills in and around the town. It is listed as part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Belper was once famous for nail making, however it was the genius of the Strutt family who changed the face of the town. Jedediah Strutt built one of the world's earliest water-powered cotton mills. Later a fireproof mill was built by his son William and this had a significant impact on future development. An apprentice called Samuel Slater worked at the mill and, after he emigrated to America, he became known as the father of American manufacturers. Near the mill complex, the beautiful River Gardens offer a tranquil place to relax and have a picnic.

Spend some time in a lovely self-catering cottage near Carsington Water

Where you stay plays a huge contribution to the enjoyment of any holiday. If you have a great place to return to after days out and about, it can really be the cherry on top of the cake! We have lots of lovely self-catering holiday homes throughout the south-east region near Carsington Water that can offer a lovely base for your Peak District holiday.

From large holiday homes to romantic cottages, our range is full of variety and character. You will find log cabins, woodland retreats, hot tub cottages and dog-friendly cottages too. That’s right; the four-legged friend doesn’t need to be left behind! Browse our Carsington Water cottages today and pick from a great selection.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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