FREE Peak District Walk: Fernilee Reservoir (3.2 miles)

FREE Peak District Walk: Fernilee Reservoir (3.2 miles)

Below is a free chapter from Peak District Year Round Walks. This walk (a 3.2-mile route around Fernilee Reservoir) is one of 20 circular routes in the book, covering the area's finest countryside. This one makes for a fab winter stroll and is the perfect way to burn off some Christmas calories with the family.   

📥 DOWNLOAD THIS WALK. If you want to download a version of this walk to print or take with you on your phone, just click here! 

Fernilee Reservoir (3.2 miles) 

This is an ideal place for a winter stroll – pick a day with clear skies and you’re in for a real treat as the low sun reflects on the water. This wonderful landscape features woods, farms and reservoirs but can be a quiet place, ideal for enjoying a tranquil walk. It's popular with dog walkers – especially in the latter stages so you’ll probably see a few dogs bounding about. With the water and woods, it’s a canine paradise.

  • Terrain: Well marked paths, rocky in places. Some gentle climbs and a steep one to finish. Can be muddy after a rainy period
  • How to get there & parking: North of Buxton, the A5004 has a road signed off to the west for the Goyt Valley. From the main road, head past Errwood Sailing Club, cross the dam wall and you’ll find the main car park for Fernilee Reservoir at the other side. (Sat nav SK23 7HD)
  • Refreshments: The Shady Oak at Fernilee is popular with walkers. SK23 7HD


1. From the car park, head for the road and you’ll see the footpath you need heading across the grass to Fernilee Reservoir. Go through a gate, again following the signs for the reservoir. The impressive sight of this long reservoir greets you and then you go through a kissing gate, following the path that leads you down to the water’s edge. When you reach the track next to the reservoir, turn left onto it and continue along the route with the water on your right. Keep following the signs for Fernilee along the Waterside Walk. As you follow this route you’ll pass a few streams entering the reservoir and there’s a wood on the left with pine trees, squeaking and creaking. After a rocky section, head over a wooden footbridge and then the path leaves the reservoir and you climb up some steep steps.

2. When you reach a larger path at the top of the steps, turn right and follow the sign for Fernilee once again. This path will bring you back down the hill, getting you back towards the water.

3. When you get to a gate, go through it and turn right onto the road at the other side. When you get to the dam wall, turn right and head along it, taking time to enjoy the views across the water.

4. At the far side of the Fernilee Reservoir dam wall, look out for the overflow. Beyond the end of the dam wall, take the path on the right and you’ll once again find yourself walking by the side the reservoir. You’ll pass through a gate and there are a few benches that you pass on this stretch, making it an ideal place to stop for a snack. Continue until you get towards the end of the reservoir, when the imposing sight of Errwood Reservoir dam wall comes into view. Follow the track as it climbs steeply up the left side of the wall and comes out at a road.

5. When you reach the road, turn right onto it and follow it as you go by the sailing club and along the dam wall for Errwood Reservoir. At far side of the dam wall, follow the road up the hill to the junction and the car park is directly opposite.

What To Look Out For – Fernilee Reservoir

Hidden below the twin reservoirs of Fernilee and Errwood, both of which you see on this walk, is a secret world that disappeared forever when the Stockport Water Corporation moved in during the 1930s. The first reservoir to be built was Fernilee, completed in 1938 to quench the thirst of Stockport and holding 4,940 million litres of water when full. The project cost £480,000 and was followed 30 years later by Errwood Reservoir, a £1.5 million construction holding 4,215 million litres of water. A compulsory purchase order saw the Stockport Corporation get hold of the Errwood Estate in 1930 and the folk who lived in the now flooded houses started to move away slowly. An article in the Nottingham Evening Post from 1936 refers to the “final exodus” as the last six families moved out, most taking their possessions and livestock the short distance to Whaley Bridge and Kettleshulme. Looking at the reservoirs today, it’s hard to imagine life carrying on many metres below the surface of what are now two very important stretches of water.


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  • Rory Batho
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