Waterfalls, Weirs and Cascades of the Peak District
- Credit: Gary Wallis
Photographer and Derbyshire Life contributor Gary Wallis turns his camera to enjoy some of the best waterfalls, weirs and cascades the Peak National Park has to offer
The picturesque village of Alport, situated just to the east of Youlgreave, lies on the confluence of the River Bradford and the River Lathkill.
A former corn mill sits adjacent to a weir over which the river Lathkill tumbles and falls. Historical records detail that a mill was first recorded at this location as far back as 1159.
This classic shot of the river Derwent as it flows and cascades through Bakewell is one of favourites in the Peak National Park.
The scene is at its very best first thing in the morning when a low sun illuminates the river and the famous ancient bridge.
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Situated on the River Derwent, Bamford Mill lies to the south of Ladybower Reservoir.
Recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Banford for many centuries the livelihood of villagers was centred around agriculture.
In 1782 a water-powered corn mill was built but burned down shortly afterwards in 1791. Thereafter it was rebuilt and became a cotton-spinning mill thus transforming the village and transitioning it into the industrial revolution.
Nowadays the converted mill is a residential complex but still retains its original charm along with a picturesque weir.
READ MORE: A walk taking in Bamford Mills
There are several waterfalls on Beeley Brook as it cascades from the elevation of Beeley Moor to the village of the same name.
There are some lovely walks around the village of Beeley and into Chatsworth Park which is adjacent.
This image of the main waterfall was captured following a very wet period when the stream was in full spate and required some careful negotiation of some very muddy and steep slopes to arrive at the base of the fall.
READ MORE; A walk from Beeley to Rowsley
Burbage Brook begins on the moorland to the east of Stanage Edge and flows south into the Burbage Valley.
At Upper Burbage Bridge, pictured here, the peak-tinged water flows under the structure constructed in 1758 and drops in a series of small cascades.
Belper Horseshoe Weir
A famous landmark in Belper, the River Derwent flows and tumbles down the Horseshoe Weir alongside Strutt’s Mill.
The weir was constructed between 1796-97 to provide power for the West Mill and was further modified in 1819 and 1843.
The engineers constructed a series of channels to focus and harness the power of the river Derwent in order to generate up to 500 horse-power of energy for the mill.
The weir became a Grade II listed structure in 1966.
Following a period of prolonged wet weather, the dam which separates the Howden and Derwent Reservoirs becomes an impressive cascade.
As the Howden Reservoir overflows the excess water tumbles down the stonework of the dam forming a white sheet that is a truly memorable sight to behold.
The scene is quite rare and best captured early in the morning when the light is at the optimum angle to illuminate the wall of the dam.
Fair Brook, Kinder Scout
Kinder Scout, the highest mountain in the Peak District, is a vast peat plateau which acts as a huge water catchment area.
The circumference of this plateau has steep sides where a series of cloughs, or ravines, have formed over millennia from which the water drains off.
There are numerous impressive water courses on Kinder Scout, particularly after wet weather and many of these offer much interest for the photographer.
However, one of my favourites is Fair Brook situated in the northern area of Kinder. A path follows the course of Fair Brook as it cascades down from Fairbrook Naze to the Woodlands Valley on Snake Pass.
There are several waterfalls along the course of the brook and particularly in late summer when the Heather is in bloom and in the early morning light the pictures you can capture here are stunning.
Kinder Downfall is, quite rightly, one of the most famous and photographed features in the Peak. The waterfall here leaps off a sheer rock-face into a vast amphitheatre of cliffs.
If that wasn’t impressive enough when a strong wind is funnelled between the rocks the phenomenon of the waterfall being lifted up and thrown back over the edge is an unforgettable sight.
However, to break with tradition I include here a shot of the small waterfall just above the main downfall which I consider to be charming in its own right.
Ladybower Reservoir ‘Plughole’
Ladybower Reservoir has two Shaft Spillways, to use their official description, or to use the term used more affectionately – Plugholes. Both are situated on opposite banks of the reservoir at its southern end towards Bamford.
The Spillway situated on the west bank below Win Hill is easier to photograph and the more scenic of the two.
Capturing the plughole in action requires the right conditions when the reservoir is in overflow and excess water cascades down the ‘plughole’ and into the River Derwent below.
This particular image was taken just before sunrise on a cold and crisp winter morning.
The valley which runs from Monyash to near Youlgreave is one of the finest dales in the White Peak – the part of the national park so named due to the Limestone base upon which it resides.
A charming waterfall can be found about a mile to the west of Over Haddon as the River Lathkill breaks and cascades down a small group of rocks.
Far below the famous viaduct at Monsal Head the river Wye snakes east before turning back on itself westwards into Monsal Dale.
About half a mile west from the viaduct the river flows over a weir that provides a picturesque photograph and a perfect picnic spot.
The gorge is a narrow cleft where the Burbage Brook after flowing through the Longshaw Estate drops quickly to Upper Padley.
A favourite for photographers the gorge is particularly beautiful in autumn when the small cascades are framed and accompanied by colourful leaves.
Some hidden gems and notable mentions
Three Shires Head is also a hugely popular waterfall in the Peak District that is crowded most weekends and Bank Holidays, but there are also some hidden gems in the north of the national park such as Middle Black Clough and the Seven Falls at Tinwtistle.
Lumsdale Valley has a series of historic water-powered mills made in the natural gorge there, but the degradation of the ruins has recently meant that the site is closed to the public on weekend and bank holidays to reduce footfall.
READ MORE: A walk around the Lumsdale Valley (scroll down to the Matlock to Tansley walk in the article)