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“great day outdoors for all abilities and for free” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Carsington Water

Carsington Water
Big Lane, Severn Trent Visitor Centre, Ashbourne DE6 1ST, England
01629 540696
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Ranked #3 of 17 attractions in Ashbourne
Type: Bodies of Water
Attraction Details
Ashbourne, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“great day outdoors for all abilities and for free”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2013

We have been visiting Carsington Water since it opened over 20 years ago, and have watched as it has been constantly improved and upgraded. The original track around the reservoir has now been widen, leveled and is easily achievable for most to walk/cycle around being 7-8 miles of undulating track, (which my 7 yr old daughter can achieve with relative ease). The track now runs right around the edge of the reservoir, only briefly leaving the waters edge before returning to it. There are bird watching huts set up around and the variety of visiting birds is lovely to watch. You also pass by woodlands and fenced off fields of sheep. If you look carefully you may notice the carved figures in wood, and tucked away on a track near the Millfields car park, is a small open fronted stone building complete with wooden carved furniture, inc TV and clock - like its out of some children's story, which kids are fascinated with it. If you venture slightly off the new improved track onto the original track taking you through the village of Carsington itself, and onto some single track country lanes, you will pass a small pub "The Miners Arms" with a pleasant beer garden - nice to take a break, have a drink and a packet of crisps (although your legs dont peddle as well after a pint)!

There are 3 car parks - Main car park with the Visitor Centre, Millfields and, Sheepwash. Main car park charging £2+ dependent on duration. Millfields is currently £2.50 all day but is barrier operated, so if you dont have the correct money you cant get in! The Sheepwash car park is tucked away with limited parking compared to the others, but is free!

The Main car park houses the Visitor Centre and a large out door children's play area split into 3 age groups, fenced off for safety with some benches for those watching parents. Our daughter has spent hours on this play frame/area long with slides, swings etc, and its free! Along side the play area is a refreshments hut selling hot and cold drinks and ice cream (open 11-4 approx mid - peak season). Further refreshments are in the Main Visitior centre just a stroll away. Around the play area is a large grassed area with some wooden picnic tables (some under a sheltered area in case of rain) but these tables are highly demanded on sunny days/peak periods. Further up the bank behind the car park are additional benches, some with pre-built barbeques. One down side to the childrens area is that there is no immediate toilet facilities right by the young children's play area, and as anyone with young children knows you have limited warning of the "need" for a toddler to "go". There are toilets in the Main Visitor centre, but it is a sprint with a toddler under your arm! The toilets are plentiful and clean (well it is a Severn Trent run attraction).

The Main Visitor Centre is laid out in a court yard style and houses shops selling clothes, jewellery, RSPB related products, gift ware, books etc. Additionally there is a refreshments shop selling hot and cold snacks and drinks, some pre-packed branded ice creams, etc. There is a separate specialist ice cream store opposite selling traditional ice creams in waffle cones with such flavours as honey comb, toffee, chocolate, rum and raisin, and even diabetic vanilla amongst many other flavours. They're not cheap at £2-3 each (dependent on your add-ons) but when you consider that your day out is practically free other than parking fees they are a nice treat. There is a full restaurant upstairs above the visitor centre if you require something more substantial than a snack. There is also an environmental presentation detailing what happens to water and how its processed and how we use it - informative and well laid out, appealing to children.

From the visitors centre you can walk over to the "island" in the water with its standing stones to climb the path up to.

Next to the visitor centre is the cycle hire centre, with well maintained and up to date bikes for hire including those trailer trucks for very young children who cannot yet cycle and are towed behind an adults bike.

Onto the Millfields Car Park, being located the other side of the Dam from the Main Visitor centre - has many picnic style tables laid out along the waters edge which are often visited by Canadian Geese and a variety of Ducks, amongst others. There are toilets here and occasionally you can purchase ice creams here, but it is occasionally, regrettably. Just hidden behind this car park is the Caravan Clubs site known as Blackbrook, with access directly onto Carsington Water along a track which runs along the road side.

As for Sheepwash Car Park, that is all it is. A car park with the odd table, and no facilities. This car park is located further along from the Main Car park and on the Wirksworth - Ashbourne road.

In summary, there's plenty here to pass a sunny day or even just dry day. Only the committed walker is found here on less pleasant rainy days due to the limited places to shelter. However having considered the cost of this day out it is amongst the cheapest around. Great for the family. Great for the dog walkers. Great for couples and friends to spend time. Great to get you more active. That's why we go back so often.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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306 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
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English first
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“A great adventure park but avoid busy school holidays else youll miss out on activities.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013 via mobile

We visited when it was hot so it was very busy. Unfortunately when we arrived we waited for a while in a line to hire bikes. When we got to the front The man who worked there said there were no bikes left and to come back later. When we went back we had to wait in the line again & at this point we was fed up of waiting. We was going to hire the bikes allday but we just decided to just book an hour because it was getting late so we was gutted we didnt get to see the full park.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
20 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Very interesting and invigorating”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013

Went to Carsington for a wander while caravaning in the area. A delightful place with some great informative hands on stuff to stimulate interest in the kids and older folk alike. Can spend a comfortable hour in the visitor centre alone. The walks around the water are refreshing on a breezy day which it was but relatively easy and mostly wheelchair friendly.

Car park was I think £2.50 for 4 hours or £4.70 for the day so relatively good value.

Worth a trip and some beautiful views, equally the cafe has an upstairs outdoor seating area which offers stunning views to drink your cuppa with. Or equally nibble on something nice....

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northville, Michigan
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

Our relatives took us there when we stayed with them in nearby Duffield. I expected a reservoir and nothing else. However, there is an interesting visitors' centre, shops and a restaurant, as well as a modern reproduction of standing stones. Each stone has a hole through which you can view various aspects of the water. We walked from the visitors' centre via the bird watching area to the Sheepwash. It was fairly flat and an easy walk. The birding area was wonderful - telescopes and binoculars available and a very enthusiastic lady who talked about the "regulars" as well as unusual bird sightings. The weather was not terrific but it was a delightful place in which to spend as much time as you wish. I am not sure if you have to pay for parking but the rest of the place is free.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“When the weathers good there's no better place.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

If you are thinking of going here for the day I would say check the weather forecast first as it can be quite miserable on a cold wet day. On the plus side if the weather is nice it can be an really enjoyable day out, if you fancy just chilling with a picnic or planning a four hour walk or walking around the complex buying one or two things to remind you of your day out. There's a lovely café there which do meals, a take away bar which do snacks and a ice cream bar which sells drinks too. The views are stunning across the water and beyond. Car park is about £2.50 for the day, so if want a cheap day out aswell it can work out that way if you want. We have just competed the four hour walk all the way around, we parked in the free car park, which is just further down the road and bought a picnic so we didn't spend a penny and thoroughly enjoyed our day out.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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