Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve



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Five of the White Peak’s finest limestone dales make up the extensive Derbyshire Dales NNR. Their steep sides enclose a world of clear streams, mossy rocks, precipitous woodlands and flower-filled grasslands. The dales included in the reserve are Lathkill Dale, Cressbrook Dale, Monk’s Dale, Long Dale and Hay Dale. The reserve is perhaps best known for its abundant woodland wildflowers such as mezereon in spring and, as May arrives, early purple orchids and cowslips on the open dalesides. The showy deep blue heads of the rare Jacob’s ladder are best seen in mid-June in Upper Lathkill Dale, and over 50 plant species per square metre have been recorded in this herb-rich grassland. Each of the dales has its own unique characteristics, but all are notable for their limestone scenery, their diverse flora and the wide range of butterflies and other insects that this supports. More than 20 species of butterfly occur, and river life includes dippers and water voles. Summer visitors include wheatears, which find the unspoilt habitats of the open upper dales sides to their liking.

Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Derbyshire

The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.

The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.

The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.

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