What to do at Carsington Water in Derbyshire.

What can you do at Carsington Water in Derbyshire?We recently spent a fun weekend at Carsington water in Derbyshire stopping nearby at a couple of campsites in our campervan, so keep reading to find out all about the different activities available.

Carsington Water, Derbyshire

A bit of History, Facts and Figures

Carsington Water is operated by Severn Trent Water and is the ninth-largest reservoir in England. Leading up to the start of the project to build the reservoir there was as you would expect public opposition from the area. The current location was chosen because it had the minimum human impact in that only two farms were demolished, and eleven people displaced.

The project to build the reservoir started in 1980 and was officially opened by Queen in 1992.

Carsington Water

  • Can hold 7,800 million gallons of water
  • Reaches a depth of 31 meters (seven double-decker buses)
  • Covers an area of 741 acres (700 football pitches)

Carsington Water Visitor Centre, Upper Town, Ashbourne, DE6 1ST

We camped a ten-minute walk from the Visitors Centre at Carsington Water. The Visitors Centre is the largest building around the reservoir and has a café, shop and toilets. It is open everyday except Christmas Day, it is also home to the Kugel Stone. This granite stone weighs one tonne and revolves on a thin film of water which is pumped into the granite socket it sits in. You can make the stone spin by giving it a gentle push.

Kugel Stone, Carsington Water

The main car park for the reservoir is at the visitors’ centre, when we visited in 2019 it was £3 for up to 2 hours and £5 for all-day parking. There is also a smaller car park towards the south of the reservoir (Millfields) and one at the north (Sheepwash).

Watersport Activities

We spent the day on the water with our own paddle board and kayak, you can pay a launch fee at Carsington Sport & Leisure which is based next door to the Visitors Centre and use your own equipment. We paid £8 for a day launch pass for our kayak, plus you need third party insurance. TOP TIP – do not pay for general parking first before going to Carsington Sport & Leisure to sign in and pay your launch fee as you will get a parking pass for the day for an area designated for watersports parking. We did pay first not knowing this but managed to get a refund from the visitor centre.

What to do at Carsington Water in Derbyshire

Do not worry if you do not have your own equipment you can hire rowing boats, canoes, paddle boards, kayaks and windsurfing equipment from Carsington Sport & Leisure. It is also possible to book lessons at the watersports centre.

What can I do at Carsington Water?

It isn’t all about the water!


There is great cycling with a couple of different routes. There is a shorter family-friendly 3-mile route or for the more adventurous you can cycle the 8-mile route right around the reservoir. If you do not have your own bikes then they are available to hire from Carsington Sports & Leisure.

Bird watching

There is a wildlife centre where you can learn more about the different birds that you can see around the reservoir and have a quiet moment to maybe spot a kingfisher or a buzzard. There is also an RSPB shop on site.


There is a route for all abilities at Carsington, You can take the short walk onto Stones Island which is about a mile or walk the eight-mile route around the reservoir, Dogs are welcome at the reservoir but must be kept on a lead. Finn, our dog enjoyed the walk and as it was a really hot day he did have a bit of a swim off Stones Island which was well away from the wildlife centre.

Horse riding

Horses are welcome and you can ride the beautiful eight-mile route around the reservoir. You can park your horsebox in the coach parking bays at the visitor center car park.


Fly fishing for brown and rainbow trout is available at Carsington Water. Boats are available to hire from the watersports centre and there is weekly stocking during the season.

Where we stayed

We stayed in two different campsites during our visit to Carsington Water, The Pudding Room and Uppertown Farm Campsite near Knockerdown.

Would we visit again?

Overall we had a great value day out, which was helped by the fantastic weather. Although it was busy it never felt particularly crowded and there was plenty of space for a picnic and activities to keep everyone entertained.
One addition that would have improved our day would have being a dedicated doggie swimming area.

What to do at Carsington Water in Derbyshire

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