National Nature Reserves in Derbyshire
It's our good fortune to have Lathkill Dale nearby...
The Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve consists of parts of five separate limestone valleys in the Peak District National Park - Lathkill, Cressbrook, Monk's, Long and Hay Dale.
Lathkill Dale, the closest to Wheeldon Trees (about 4 miles away), is recommended for casual visitors; the other dales are for more seasoned walkers !
It’s a superb example of all the major wildlife
habitats of the White Peak Natural Area, including :
Abundant limestone plants such as common rock rose and salad burnet, up to 45 different species have been found in a square meter !
Rarities include Jacob's ladder, spring cinquefoil and Nottingham catchfly; visit in spring to see the thousands of early purple orchids and cowslips
Insects are equally diverse, and south-facing and west-facing slopes are home to rarities such as the northern brown argus butterfly and cistus forester moth.
Internationally important woodlands, dominated by ash, with a rich shrub layer and ground flora including bird cherry, mezereon and alpine currant.
The River Lathkill itself has among the purest waters in the country – look out for dippers, wagtails and even kingfishers on the banks …
Other unusual habitats such as species-rich scrub, limestone heaths, lead spoils, flushes, dewponds, screes, rock exposures and caves.
Of the other locations, Cressbrook Dale
has steeper paths, leading you from ash woods to a turf landscape dotted with rockrose and alive with butterflies and moths, broken by rocky outcrops and screes. Monk's Dale
is a wilder prospect, needing more effort to reach its inner sanctum, but well worth that exertion. Hay Dale
and Long Dale
are both small and make a great trip for naturalists looking for limestone flowers and insects.