Natural England - Derbyshire Dales NNR

Derbyshire Dales NNR

The five superb valleys that make up Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve lie in the centre of the Peak District National Park and together represent some of the best examples of limestone geology, landscape and wildlife in the area and indeed in the whole of England.

Derbyshire Dales NNR

Where: Derbyshire

Main habitats: The reserve consists mainly of limestone grassland, scrub and valley woodlands. Other habitats include hay meadows, streams and dew ponds, scree, acid grassland and small areas of ‘limestone heath’.

Why visit: The five valleys that make up Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve cover a total of 385 hectares. 87% of this is classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for either its wildlife or its geology, in addition to which just over three-quarters is a Special Area for Conservation (SAC). Although each of the valleys has its own unique characteristics, all are notable for their limestone scenery, their diverse flora and the wide range of butterflies and other insects this supports. Information on the special features of each part of the reserve can be found on the What makes it special? page.

Star species: The reserve’s grasslands are amongst the most flower-rich places in Britain. A single square metre can feature as many as 40 different species including Jacobs ladder, bloody cranesbill, globe flower and a variety of orchids. Areas associated with old lead workings support such lead-tolerant species as spring sandwort and mossy saxifrage whilst wooded parts of the reserve support attractive spring flowers including lily of the valley in Cressbrook Dale and herb paris in Monk’s Dale.

This diverse flora supports many butterflies and moths as well as being home to a wide range of other invertebrates. Dippers, kingfishers and grey wagtails can be found along the watercourses with other breeding birds including buzzards, ravens, wheatears and redstarts. Water voles are another species found along rivers and brown hares can be seen in more open places.

Further information on species associated with the individual valleys can be found in the What makes it special? and Seasonal highlights sections.

Visiting the reserve: The five valleys making up Derbyshire Dales NNR lie in the centre of the Peak District National Park between Buxton in the west and Bakewell in the East. The A6 runs between these two towns with Cressbrook Dale, Monk’s Dale & Cressbrook Dale lying to the north of this and Lathkill Dale and Long Dale to the south. Further information on reaching the individual valleys can be found on the How to get there page

Help us to look after the reserve

Please remember to follow the Countryside Code at all times:

Protect plants and animals and take your litter home

  • Leave flowers there for others to enjoy.

  • Do your best not to disturb wildlife. There is advice for photographers on dipper nesting sites: (288kb)pdf document.

  • Litter can harm wildlife and make this beautiful area less enjoyable for others as well as costing money and taking time to remove.

Keep dogs under close control

  • Please keep your dog out of rivers and streams where they can disturb wildlife.

  • Grazing animals are key to the management of the reserve. Please take particular care when near these.

  • Please ensure that you clean up after your dog and take dog waste bags away with you. The area is used by many others including young children and school groups.

Be safe - plan ahead and be prepared

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. The reserve has many steep slopes and the limestone can be slippery, especially when wet.

  • Take extra care near cliff edges and where there might be former mining activity.

  • Observe any danger signs or temporary restrictions on access.

  • Please note that mobile phone signals are restricted or non-existent in many parts of the reserve, especially in valley bottoms.

Leave gates and property as you find them

  • Gates on the reserve should generally be closed. However, if a gate has clearly been left open to allow grazing animals to move between areas or to allow vehicle access, please leave it open.

  •  Please don’t climb or otherwise damage walls which can cost around £36 per metre to repair.

Consider other people

  • There are no bridleways on the reserve so horses, mountain biking and other cycling are not permitted.


Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve base, 10, Arden House, Deepdale Business Park, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1GT

For information about school and community group visits to the reserve please contact Caroline Thomas - telephone 01629 812117 or email

For information about volunteering at Derbyshire Dales NNR please email

For all other information (including concerning reserve management) call the Senior Reserve Manager on 01629 810509 or email