Bird Watching

There are a number of Bird and Wildfowl reserves for great bird watching in the Peak District and surrounding area. So do get out your binoculars and enjoy our bird visitors all year around! Alternatively from most Party Houses you should be able to view a variety of birds. For example; we have placed Barn Owl nest boxes in several Party Houses and many owlets have successfully been raised in these. Little Owls are frequent visitors at Toft Hall and, as unlike many owls, they come out in the day, you may well see them just sitting on the driveway! In the summer the Curlews are frequent visitors and you can hear their distinct cries and see their long curved beaks as they fly above. At Roaches Hall you pass below the Peregrine Falcon nesting site in the spring. We just ask that you watch from afar and let the young birds fledge safely and without the stress of encountering humans close up!

We have nature and bird books in Party Houses, so do see how many you can identify during your stay…..

  • View All Activities

Birdholme Wildfowl Reserve

(Map reference; SK380680)A61 south of Chesterfield. N area of meadow, willow scrub, reedy marsh and a man-made lake. Kingfisher, winter wildfowl and summer warblers.

Carr Vale Nature Reserve

(Map Reference; SK460690)Carr Vale Nature Reserve, which was formed though subsidence in an old mining area, consists of open water fringed by reedmace, sedges and rushes surrounded by meadowlands with the river Doe Lea running along the south side. On the west is the M1. On the north side spoil heaps have been landscaped and is scrub. There are no hides but a viewing mound overlooks the area and has disabled access. It attracts winter wildfowl and large plover flocks.

Chatsworth Park

(Map Reference SK260700) Chatsworth Park is typical artificial parkland with large wooded and plantation areas of oaks and other trees and shrubs. The River Derwent runs through the park, which is to the west of the moor land, and is great for Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Goosander and Common Sandpiper. The whole park is private property, with the area to the south open all year round to the public. Access from the A6 Matlock – Bakewell road at Rowsley and onto the A623 Baslow road or from the A619 Bakewell to Baslow road.

Cromford Canal

(Map Reference; SK310550) This is an area of some 3/4 miles of partially disused canal surrounded by deciduous woodland and riverside Meadows. The River Derwent runs almost adjacent to the canal for its whole length. All carparks are situated off the A6 Derby – Matlock road. The Wharf carpark is accessible off the A6 at Cromford but the other free carpark, which is probably best for birdwatching, is adjacent to the High Peak Junction and is sign-posted and has toilets.

Darley Park

(SK350380)The park is close to the village of Darley Abbey – in the suburbs of Derby) which sits along the River Derwent. The area constantly shows an excellent selection of woodland birds and other wildlife.

Foremark Reservoir

(Map reference; SK330230) Access via the A514 Derby – Swadlincote road. At Ticknall take the road for Repton and after approx ½ mile turn left into the reservoir carpark, which is signposted. You can also take the Ticknall – Swadlincote road and turn right into the car park at Carvers Rocks. Carvers Rocks is a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve and is mainly woodland with bracken areas. The with farmland and a large coniferous plantation close by. The surrounding banks are steep and only the sandy shallow banks are exposed when the water level drops. The reservoir has a good list of county rarities.

Goyt Valley and Axe Edge

(Map reference SK015758) Mainly grit-stone valley with large reservoirs, plantations and open moorland. Best in spring and summer for Red Grouse, Wheatear, Golden Plover Curlew, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Wood Warbler Dipper, Pied Flycatcher and Red-breasted Merganser. Easily accessed from the old A6 Buxton – Manchester road, now the A5002 or from the A537 Buxton – Macclesfield road, there area several car parks in the valley.

Kedleston Park

(Map reference; SK310400) A large country house with open parkland, lakes and woods with a variety of tree species. Access – see road map for different access points from the north and south. (National Trust)

Longshaw Estate

(Map Reference; SK260790) Accessed off the Sheffield – Grindleford road or the Chesterfield – Hathersage road. Large areas of open moor land with and clumps of mixed woodland, which in some years attracts small parties of Crossbills.

Middleton Moor Lagoons

(Map Reference SK200740) Access to this site is via the A623 Baslow – Buxton road, turning left at the junction sign-posted Cavendish Mill. To access the No.3 Lagoon, take the first left, follow the road (beware of heavy vehicles and machinery) until you approach a gate on your right-hand side. A notice says No Trespassing, but this is the entrance so follow the path to the hide. To access the No.4 Lagoon retrace your steps, turn left and the take the next two left turnings which will take you down an unsurfaced road to the Lagoon. Please park sensibly so as not to block any of the roads.

Northeast Derbyshire Moors

The area comprises Beeley Moor (SK290700); East Moor (SK290700); Brampton East Moor, Gibbet Moor (SK270760) and Harewood Moor (SK300670). Access is via A619 from the North or B5057 in the South. This large area is mainly heath and bog and largely treeless. The most productive area is adjacent to Arkwright Plantation and from Beeley Triangle to Slagmill Plantation. It is terrific for raptors and the usual moorland species. Matlock Forest`s focal point is Flash Lane (SK300590) and holds woodcock and nightjar. Barbrook Reservoir on Big Moor attracts many migrants to its waters edge as well as interesting wintering finches and buntings.

Padley Gorge

(Map reference; SK250790) This is where moorland gives way to deciduous woodland in the gorge. The easiest access is from Grindleford Railway Station just off the north side of the B6521 at Nether Padley. Spring is the best time to visit when migration is in full swing for Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler, woodpeckers, warblers, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Ring Ouzel and Cuckoo.

Shiningcliff Wood

(Map Reference; SK330520) Access from A6 Derby – Matlock road, north of Ambergate. Mixed deciduous woodland and conifers along the side of the River Derwent. Species in summer include Wood Warbler, Redstart, and Pied Flycatcher. In winter holds good numbers of thrushes and finches.

The Derbyshire Dales

This area is known as The White Peak, where the underlying carboniferous limestone forms a gentle landscape of rolling hills with some deep valleys. The fast-flowing clear rivers hold Dippers. The woodlands are ash and alders but on the top of the valleys these are replaced by hawthorn scrub, gorse and broom. The most popular dales are Millers Dale (SK 1473); Monsal Dale (SK 1771); Cressbrook Dale (SK 1773) and Chee Dale (SK 1273).

The Upper Derwent Valley and Dams

(Map Reference; SK170890) This impressive area is easily reached via the A57 (Snake Pass) some 10 miles from Chesterfield, 16 miles from Sheffield and Manchester and is very popular with large numbers of visitors especially in the summer. The main features for birders are the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. The reservoirs are deep with steep sides and the valley sides are mainly larch and pine, with some remnants of old oak woodland. Above the plantations the slopes are generally grassland and mixed heather. The area is known as the Dark Peak because of blackness of the peat and the weathered grit stone. The main attraction for birders is Windy Corner overlooking the Derwent valley sides and Howden Reservoir for passing or thermalling raptors or by following the footpath at Kings Tree onto the open moorland.

Williamthorpe Ponds Nature Reserve

(Map Reference; SK430660) Close to a large industrial complex the largest of the three ponds is surrounded by phragmites and sports an impressive bird list. It was reclaimed from colliery workings and has woodland and meadow too. It is good for many species but the large pond has many water edge specialties and holds the largest colony of reed warblers in the county.

Carsington Water

(Map Reference; SK240510)   Carsington water is situated c.12 miles northwest of Derby and 4 miles northeast of Ashbourne set in countryside on the edge of the Peak District. It is surrounded by pasture with hedgerows of hawthorn and mature woodlands & younger plantation. The northern area of the reservoir is a wildlife zone with limited access. The rest of the reservoir is used for sailing, angling, and other water sports.

Tittesworth Water

Off Buxton Road (A53) , Meerbrook, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 8SW
Site open from 7.30am daily, Visitor Centre open from 10.00am daily (except Christmas Day). Closing times vary seasonally. Set in the heart of the beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands, Tittesworth Water has something for everyone
Outside there’s a children’s play area for all ages, refreshment kiosks – serving snacks, ice cream and drinks, a sensory garden, 2 bird hides, 2 walks and copious amounts of grass to keep the kids happy. You’ll also find an undercover BBQ area, so the British weather needn’t spoil your fun and plenty of picnic tables dotted around the site.
In the Visitor Centre, we have a new redesigned shop, 80 seater restaurant, serving everything from bacon baps in the morning, Staffordshire Oatcakes for lunch and cream teas in the afternoon. The centre also houses award winning toilets, including disabled and baby change facilities. The visitor centre has easy access to all areas including disabled parking facilities and wheelchair access to picnic tables and play equipment.

RSPB Coombes Valley

Six Oaks Farm, Bradnop, Leek, Staffs, ST13 7EU
Peaceful walks in secluded oak wooded valley. Many types of woodland birds can be seen as well as butterflies, flowers and other wildlife. Open 9am-9pm or dusk if earlier, closed Xmas Eve & Xmas Day.
Deep Hayes Country Park
Sutherland Rd, Longsdon, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST9 9QD
A 143 acres of woods, meadows and pools, with plenty of facilities, including a visitor centre and toilets.