Carsington Water, Derbyshire, Peak District

Carsington Water was one of the most spontaneous trips out I’ve ever had. We were driving through the Peak District, my satnav had decided to stop telling me where I was going, and I had spotted water on the horizon.

Beautiful views at Carsington Water
Beautiful views at Carsington Water

I don’t know if it was like how animals migrate toward the watering holes, but I took my chance, and kept heading for the direction of the water. Once the signs for Carsington Water appeared, I not only realised we were onto a winner, but was also excited as it was somewhere I’d wanted to visit for a long time.

Carsington Water is a Severn Trent Water reservoir in Derbyshire, surrounded by beautiful countryside, woodland and wildflower meadows… and a hub for an amazing day out with the family if you’re visiting Derbyshire or the Peak District.

Carsington Water is a beautiful way to watch nature
Carsington Water is a beautiful way to watch nature

It was a beautiful, sunny September Saturday, and as we pulled into the carpark, there were people on the field having BBQs, hosting their own little parties, and enjoying family picnics in the sun – it was a gorgeous setting.

Carsington Water is a haven for watersports, with its own watersports centre near the carpark, giving you access to boats, paddleboards and more, for all the family to enjoy.

Watching the birds
Watching the birds

There is a fantastic 8-mile trail around the edge of the reservoir, all marked out for runners, walkers, cycling or those looking to hire a bike from the bike-hire centre. There’s also a shorter 3-mile route, as well as a 1-mile route to the Stones Island, with views across the reservoir.

Lily loved the little nature walk area where you could see woodland animals, and watch the birds on the reservoir, as well as the little dens in the woods where she could play.

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Hiding out in one of the woodland dens

We saw animals along the walk, as well as beautiful views across the reservoir in the sunshine – a great place to be active and get some fresh air outdoors with the family.

After the walk, we visited the main visitors’ centre, where there were a variety of small shops, an RSPB shop, charity stores, a restaurant, café, ice cream shop and more, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating – so everything you could possibly need, whether you were looking for a snack, a treat, a meal… or a bit of shopping, supporting some lovely charities!

Relaxing with an ice lolly
Relaxing with an ice lolly

Lily loved the indoor exhibition, which was a free, interactive & educational area for children, learning about water, and the importance of saving water. It was really interesting, with activities for all ages. Lily’s favourite part was the interactive floor display where you could chase around the lily-pads and fish – I’ve no idea how it worked, but she was entertained for ages!

The indoor exhibition is interactive, educational and free
The indoor exhibition is interactive, educational and free

We bought a coffee and an ice lolly while we were there, and then headed out to relax on one of the fields around the reservoir, taking in the beautiful views. It was lovely and I wished I’d saved our picnic for here!

There is also a huge play area, with wooden climbing frame, slides, roundabouts and more, and separate areas for younger children too, making it perfect for a day out with kids of all ages.

There are plenty of places to watch and learn about nature
There are plenty of places to watch and learn about nature

I’d really recommend a day out with the family at Carsington Water. There’s so much to do to enjoy the outdoors, and to be able to explore nature in a fun and interactive way, then treat yourselves afterwards in one of the cafes or shops.

The views are beautiful and the well-marked trails around the reservoir can be done in one go, or the shorter 3-mile trail suitable for families, or even the 1-mile loop, depending on the length of time you want to stay there and how far the little legs can pedal or walk.

There are 8-mile, 3-mile and 1-mile routes suitable for all the family
There are 8-mile, 3-mile and 1-mile routes suitable for all the family

The facilities are all really clean, and whether you want to walk, cycle, or just head for a BBQ and a play, you’re sure to have a great time at Carsington Water.

More woodland dens!
More woodland dens!

For more on Carsington Water, visit the Severn Trent website here or check out the route maps here

Tips for visiting with families

  • There is a shorter 3-mile trail as well as the longer 8-mile trail, making it suitable for all ages whether you want to walk, cycle, or just enjoy the outdoors
  • There are baby-changing facilities and toilets in the visitor centre, as well as easy-to-access views across the reservoir from here.
  • The small indoor interactive exhibition is free and really worth a visit
  • Trails are suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Parking costs up to £4.50 for the day, but if you have your own picnic, you don’t need to spend anything else, as you can still access all the walks, play areas and facilities too. You can pay by card at some of the pay stations and the Visitor Centre for your parking.
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