Self-catering holiday cottages on the edge of the Peak District National Park that sleep between…
New reservoirs usually take years to blend with their landscapes, and sometimes they just never do. But the still waters of the 741-acre Carsington Reservoir, opened by HRH the Queen in 1992, somehow look completely at home in the gently rolling hills southwest of Wirksworth. Most of the Peak District’s 50 reservoirs gather their water from acid-rich moorland, so they are low in nutrients, and this in turn means they are poor for aquatic plants and animals. However, Carsington is quite different: it is filled largely by water pumped from rivers and so makes an excellent home for wildlife. In the winter there are wildfowl by the thousand, including wigeon, pochard and tufted duck; in the summer there are great crested grebes and dabchicks; and in the spring and autumn, at migration time, all sorts of waders and seabirds use the reservoir as a rest and refuelling stop. One of Carsington Water’s most controversial residents is the American ruddy duck. Just 50 years ago this little duck, with its big blue bill, white cheeks, reddish back and stiff, upright tail, was quite unknown outside Wildfowl Trust reserves. But it escaped and is now so widespread that it is threatening to overrun Europe, diluting the genes of its close relative, the European white-headed duck, in the process. A third of the Carsington shore is set aside as a conservation area, but the rest is accessible by footpath, bicycle and horse. The main Visitor Centre is on the west shore, with an extensive car park off the B5035. Here you can hire a bike, a boat, go fishing, or just enjoy the walk around the shores of the reservoir.
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About the area
The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.
The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.
The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.
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