About Cressbrook Dale
About Cressbrook Dale
Cressbrook Dale Site of Specific Scientific Interest ( SSSI )
Toward the southern end of Cressbrook Dale NNR, on the opposite side of the valley to the village itself, is a SSSI. This area, which enjoys the highest level of protection and is not open to the public was created to preserve the area in which some exceptionally rare plants grow. The part of the SSSI on the east side of the valley is owned and managed by Natural England . The part on the east side of the valley is on private land immediately adjacent to the roads that pass through here and therefore potentially vulnerable to interference.
The detailed specification written in 1986 and which led to the creation of the SSSI can be read here.
Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Cressbrook Dale is one of the five limstone dales that comprise the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve (NNR). Together these dales represent '..some of the best examples of limestone geology, landscape and wildlife in the whole of England..' (Q. Natural England).
The impressive list of habitats include limestone grassland, scrub, valley woodlands, hay meadows, streams and dew ponds, scree, acid grassland and small areas of limestone heath.
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 like those in Cressbrook dale support lead-tolerant species such as spring sandwort and mossy saxifrage whilst wooded parts of the reserve support attractive spring flowers including Lily-of-the-Valley.
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 Peregrine Falcon, Buzzards, Ravens, Wheatears and Redstarts.
Lead Mining in Cressbrook Dale
The open area of sloping grassland just north of Cressbrook village (GR SK170738), a significant portion of which is Access Land, is the legacy of the leadmining that occurred here. The cliff face in the western side of the dale above the meadow contains the remains of a number of slit mines from which lead ore was extracted. The ore was brought to the meadow and washed with water taken from the reservoir located half-way down the meadow, which in turn was filled with water from the spring in the hillside immediately above. This spring no longer runs. Mining took place here as recently as the 1960s and the woods to the south of the meadow contain the remains of a number of buildings associated with it. The level track that extends from the hairpin bend north of Cressbrook and about a half a mile into the dale carried a small mineral railway that was used to transport the ore from the mines.
It is highly likely that the history of lead mining has played a key role in determining the nature of the grassland in the meadow here.
Cressbrook Dale is host to extensive areas of woodland that is classified as Ancient Woodland. While the tree cover at the north end of the dale is sparse the area around the village of Cressbrook is mostly wooded and this area is almost entirely classified as ancient.
Public Rights of Way
The good news for the public is that Cressbrook Dale contains a number of rights of way. Some of these are within Litton Parish and some of these are within Wardlow Parish. There is also an area of Access Land to the immediate north of Cressbrook itself. These footpaths are maintained by both the National Park Authority and by Derbyshire County Council Highways Department Public Rights Of Way team.
The dale aligns north south. From the contours on the map you can see that it is steep sided along it's entire length and in many places precipitous. The crags at Ravensdale are world famous for their climbing routes.