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The original plan for the Derwent Valley Water Board Reservoirs

Here is what the Upper Derwent and Woodlands Valley should have looked like. Originally there were set to be five reservoirs, Howden, Derwent, Bamford, Ashopton and Hagglee, each with a dam spanning the relevant valley.

The first two, Howden and Derwent were constructed at the turn of last century. The Derwent Valley Water Board also had the rights to the water in the Woodlands valley and developed plans to construct three huge reservoirs stretching up the Woodlands valley, consuming the Snake Road and most of the farms and Hamlets on either side.

The major problem with the plan was the Snake Road, one of only two trans Pennine routes, the other being the Woodhead Road. Re-routing the Snake was a major construction project with huge cost implications. To reduce the cost an alternative proposal was put forward. If you have to move the road, why not just construct one enormous dam spanning the Derwent Valley at Bamford and rising to the top of Bamford Edge and across to Win Hill. Both the Derwent and Howden dams would have been consumed  beneath the waters.

Eventually, cost and the inter war years moved the focus on to a third reservoir, Ladybower, stretching from Yorkshire Bridge up to Fairholmes, flooding the villages of Derwent and Ashopton.

Of course if one huge dam had been built there may not have been the Dambusters raid in Germany, no Four Inns walk and the start of Peak District Mountain Rescue, no Upper Derwent Valley.

So there you have it, that’s why the Upper Derwent looks like it does today.