When it comes to hidden treasures and places of spectacular splendour – Derwent Reservoir is one of England’s unsung heroes. Set amongst the stunning scenery of the Hope Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park, the Derwent Reservoir has everything today’s weekend walker and family outing is seeking; plus it has a link to a story of bravery, selfless sacrifice and undying loyalty – set during the dark days in this countries recent history. A story of the heroic deeds of men and women who were fighting for freedom.
The Reservoir is within a region of the country’s Global Geopark – an award sanctioned by UNESCO. Set within the North Pennines it is one of England’s most special places; with a rich history, an effervescent natural beauty and is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty too.
With wooded hills surrounding the beautiful lake the onlooker could easily consider that they had been swept away to the picturesque summer countryside of Austria or Switzerland. If the visitor to Derwent Reservoir arrived by car they are immediately met with the orchestra of the Coal Tit, the Long-tailed tit, the shy Goldcrest and the Siskin…all will greet the visit with song and colour.
There is a modest visitor centre which is set back in the deciduous woodland and well position signage and paths direct the walkers to the first of many highlights.
As you breakout from the small woodland that surrounds the visitor centre you are first greeted by a small open grassland typical of many of England’ parklands. Then, as the eye focuses the wall of the Reservoir rises spectacularly before your eyes.
The buttresses of the Derwent reservoir – which climbs skyward like 12th century medieval fortress, stand proud and silent. Behind its stones the waters are contained as effectively as the towers of Edward Longshanks’ contained the rebellious lands of the Welsh.
There are many wonderfully sign posted walks around the reservoir, designed for a casual stroll or the more serious adventurer.
By D. Osborne
“It was a crisp English Spring day when we arrived. The kind of weather everyone in Britain looks forward to. Blue skies and warm sunshine mirrored the landscape onto the quiet sparkling reflection of the waters of the Derwent Reservoir.
We opted for the grand tour – which took us northwards – with light packs, cheddar and pickle sandwiches and bottled beer from mountains of Bavaria. The route around the reservoir basin is peaceful, and the sunshine really showed off the unspoilt landscape with great beams of light stretching across the hillsides.
At any time of the year it is also a great place to watch and listen to the local birds. During our visit we witnessed the spectacular flight path of some wonderful wildfowl; greylag geese (I think they are called), teal and tufted ducks and everyone’s favourite the Mallard; somehow they seemed to be honouring those men who flew their Lancaster Bombers over the reservoir on one their many hundreds of practise flights during those dark days of 1942 & 1943.
This was the place where Barnes Wallace and his team tested one of Britain’s most secret of weapons – The famous ‘Bouncing Bombs’. My father and I had spent many days out during the 1970’s visiting the Mohne Dam in West Germany and that was where he first told me the story of the Damn Busters. As the geese gracefully passed overhead so the images, so vividly retained in my imagination, came to life. He had told me that when, on the 16th and 17th May 1943, over half of the men who flew with 617 Squadron – the Dam Busters – never returned to their loved ones. It was here at Derwent reservoir where it all began. It meant a lot for me to be there that day with my two loved ones. It was a day I shall always remember. A glorious day at the Derwent Reservoir and the Dam Busters Dam.”
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
(Off Bellister Bank Rd), Haltwhistle
Northumberland, England, NE49 0JP
+44 (0)1434 320 106
- Address: B6278, Consett DH8 9TT, UK
- GPS: 54.85818437692371,-1.9606636567139048
- Phone: 0044 (0)1433 650 953
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: DH8 9TS
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Good
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Paul Daniels / Article Images: D. Osborne