Although the Peak District National Park covers much of Derbyshire, if you fancy a slightly gentler but no less scenic walk then Carsington Water is for you.
Carsington Water is a large man-made reservoir owned and operated by Severn Trent Water, and it is 8 and a half miles all the way around it’s circumference. You can hire bikes from the Visitor Centre, but we fancied the walk and made the most of the last days of summer by setting off in an anti-clockwise direction from the main car-park.
The first stretch can get very windy and is unsurprisingly home to a sailing and windsurfing club. You will also pass nature centres, bird hides and trout fishermen on your way around.
The terrain is not as flat as you might expect walking around a reservoir to be – my calves are still aching from the ups and downs four days after returning.
Carsington Water was opened in 1992 by the Queen, so it’s only been around for just over 20 years. Previously the land was farmland, although during WWII it was used as a bombing range.
One of two “bombing towers” still remains just north of the Visitor Centre, and although you can climb it (a novelty in this era of health and safety) there’s nothing much to see from up here as the tall trees block your view.
You may know that I work for Ofwat, and it’s one of our duties to limit the prices water companies such as Severn Trent can charge for water. It’s a shame there’s nothing Ofwat can do about Severn Trent’s shocking prices at Carsington Water – it’s £4.70 to park for a day, and they even charge you 10p for a map.
Be sure to take a detour, literally off the beaten track, to Carsington Village. This will add a mile or so onto your journey, but is well worth it when you reach the village pub, The Miner’s Arms. Resting those weary legs with a nice pint of cider in the beer garden is just what the doctor ordered.
No sniggering at the back, but Derby is an ideal place to base yourself for an overnight stay in Derbyshire. You’d be looking at paying upwards of £80 a night for a questionable B&B in the countryside, but in the bustling metropolis of Derby itself, you can get a 4* central hotel with breakfast for £40.
The only downside is it doesn’t have its own car-park, but the hotel has a deal with the Westfield shopping centre next door, where you can park for 24 hours for £7.
You’ll be peckish after your day in the Great Outdoors, and Graze restaurant (12 Friar Gate) has three courses for £19.95. The highlight of mine was the local Bakewell Tart – the town of Bakewell just up the A6 is famous for its egg, jam, almond and pastry puddings.
According to legend, it was made by mistake when a chef got a simple recipe for a jam tart wrong.
Round here, they are Bakewell Puddings served hot with custard, not tarts topped with icing and a cherry – that is something Mr Kipling started!
If you want to see what Derby has got to offer in terms of nightlife, be warned – this could well have been the place that inspired the TV series Booze Britain. There are a couple of surprisingly nice independent bars – step over the drunks in the gutter and enjoy a cocktail at Marrakech (3 Friar Gate) or Hox (36 Sadler Gate).