Grade: Easy. Located on the edge of the Peak District National Park, Carsington Water is a popular centre for outdoor activities including cycling, walking, sailing and fishing. The cycle route featured here is a loop of the reservoir, at approximately 8 miles long. The Visitor Centre is a popular place to start your ride, with facilities such as picnic areas, toilets, and play area, but it is also quite expensive to park at £4.50 per day. If you are arriving in the area by car, and want to save a couple of pounds there are other car parks along the route, such as the Millfields car park which are £2.50 for the day. Carsington Water can be found off the B5035 between Ashbourne and Wirksworth.
This is a great family circuit, with some short uphill and downhill sections. It is a route suited to wider bike tyres due to the gravel surface, and care should be take with young children on some of the descents as it can get a little slippery due to the loose gravel surface.
I travelled in an anti-clockwise direction from the Visitor Centre, following the blue marked route which initially takes you along the flat dam wall, with some great views across the reservoir. The route from this point has a few little ups and downs, and at times the expansive views of the reservoir are hidden by travelling through more wooded areas. It was a very quiet day when I visited, but it can get very busy, so be prepared to meet other cyclists, and walkers coming the other direction around hidden bends.
For longer, more challenging alternatives, I have previously combined a loop of the reservoir when starting from Tissington Village, or Middleton Top on the High Peak Trail.
Watch the route video of a circular loop around Carsington Water, filmed with a Contour Roam2 camera. Music is ”Wonderland” by Dexter Britain.