Water, Woodland and Moors


Ox Hey Woods, above Howden Reservoir, Upper Derwent Valley

There was a promise that we would get some sunshine in the northern Peak District of Derbyshire.  So very much in hope we headed for the Upper Derwent Valley.  It is here that the tributaries of the River Derwent flow down from Howden Moors and begins to fill the network of three reservoirs, Howden, Derwent and Ladybower…. from there it flows on down through the county to join the River Trent on the Nottinghamshire border.


The Derwent is quite tranquil today.  A far different Derwent to that which caused severe flooding and destruction all along its course through the county in November and December.  It is also worth recounting that at this same time last year these vital reservoirs were next to being bone dry…yep, bone dry. Nor did the situation improve till autumn this year when the rains returned with a vengeance. The good news is that all three reservoirs are as near full as they can be.

We like the Upper Derwent Valley for its variety.  Woodland surround much of the water and there is easy access to the wild moors that surround the valley on all its sides….a little gem in the heart of the rugged peat moors.


Being January, gone are the greens,  but the browns and golds catch whatever winter sun is going. By the afternoon that sinking sun adds an extra glow to the moors whilst struggling to reach below the trees…and yes, those trees do lean an reminder that winds here can be powerful as they are funnelled  up the valley…


Our target was Herdman Bridge, at the aptly named Slippery Stones. The bridge crossing one of the many moorland tributaries that feed into the Derwent.  Here in the late afternoon as the sun begins to fall below the horizon it is a magical place.  You do feel miles away,  a place that is so peaceful, yet still with the knowledge that this can be a rather wild spot. Always a place to pause and ponder sharing the moment with a lone Silver Birch tree before one heads back down the valley…



By the time we are back on the shores of Howden Reservoir the last of the winter sun is catching the Larch and Pines across the water, another spot with a very appropriate name of ‘Cold Side’…


Not a bad end to a cold January day….. maybe the last good day for a weeks or so if our dire weather forecasts come true…. still no snow just more rain and gales.

But at least we have been able to take advantage of this bonus winters day…


11th January

(C) David Oakes 2020

2 thoughts on “Water, Woodland and Moors

  1. Lovely set of photos, David, beautifully captured. I enjoyed the narrative too. It’s a part of the country I’m not familiar with. It does look magical especially with the winter sun illuminating the scenes. I dont go out much during the winter months because I think that there’s not much of any interest to photograph. Your photos show me a different story altogether. Many thanks.

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