Six of the best places to find butterflies in Derbyshire

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By Lewis Townsend

For centuries, butterflies have fascinated and inspired us, and we can work together to help protect them, and get some fresh air in the process! We’ve lined up some of the best places in Derbyshire to find these wonderful insects.

Butterflies (and moths) are not only beautiful and diverse, but play an integral part in the landscape that we share with other wildlife. They pollinate flowers, are a natural pest controller, and are a vital part of the food chain for birds and bats. In other words, they’re amazing for our ecosystem.

The best time to see these curious insects is during summer, but the eagle-eyed can spot them as early as March and as late as September. We wanted to share with you some of the best places in Derbyshire to find butterflies in the hope that it gives you a great excuse to explore the countryside, and us folks at CPRE are super passionate about making sure these wonderful green spaces remain open and accessible to all.

So, let’s dive in…

 

Pleasley Pit Country Park and Local Nature Reserve

Pleasley Pit | Andy Dickinson via Flickr. Licence CC BY 2.0.

A former colliery site, Pleasley Pit is now a breathtaking nature reserve and a great place to spot butterflies flitting about in the rich, limestone grasslands. 28 species of butterfly have been spotted so far!

If you’re interested in wildlife at Pleasley Pit, why not check out the Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group on Facebook?

The reserve is located almost halfway between Mansfield and Chesterfield, where the A617 meets the A6191. Read more on the Derbyshire County Council website.

 

Staunton Harold Reservoir

Staunton Harold Reservoir | v1ctory_1s_m1ne via Flickr. Licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

A wildlife-rich 210-acre reservoir, complete with wildflower meadow is alive with nectar-rich flowers in summer (but beautiful year-round). The abundant wildflowers make it a great place to look out for butterflies, including the Common Blue, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell.

The community at the reservoir is very active, with lots of great projects at any one time. For example, you can donate your children’s old wellies for their colourful welly tree project, or colour in a paper flower which goes on a unique display on the reserve.

The reservoir is in Melbourne, South Derbyshire. Find out more on the Severn Trent Water website, and check out their Facebook page too!

 

Mickleover Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Mickleover Meadows | Photo: Malcolm Neal, via Geograph. CC BY-SA 2.0)

Situated on the edge of Mickleover, a suburb of Derby, this reserve is truly a hidden gem, just a stone’s throw from the city.

The reserve is cared for by a passionate, diverse bunch called the Friends of Mickleover Meadows, and around 150 species of wildflower have been recorded here. It’s also home to a plethora of wildlife, including several species of butterfly. You can find a beautiful 90-minute walk around the reserve here (PDF 9.43 MB).

This beautiful green space has two main entrances, one on Onslow Road and one near Murray Park School.

You can find more info on the Friends of Mickleover Meadows website.

 

Eyes Meadow and Millennium Meadow

Millennium Meadow | Di Hancock (Chair: Duffield Millennium Meadow Conservation Trust)

Close to the village of Duffield, Eyes Meadow is a recreational site that includes an award-winning nature reserve.

A great spot for butterfly-watching is the Millennium Meadow, which sits just alongside Eyes Meadow. It’s almost six hectares of wildflower meadow and attracts a wide range of pollinators, including butterflies.

 

Crich Chase Meadows Nature Reserve

Photo taken from a circular walk in the Crich Chase area | Chris Morriss via Flickr. Licence CC BY 2.0.

A 17-hectare wildflower paradise that’s never had any artificial fertiliser added, making it a site abundant in natural beauty.

A number of butterfly species are attracted to this rich, lush meadow, including the White Letter Hairstreak, Small Tortoise Shell, Dingy Skipper, Wall Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper.

The meadow, which has also been deemed of Specific Scientific Interest, lies just off the A610 and the nearest train station is Ambergate. Read more on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust website.

 

Rose End Meadows

Lead-wort at Rose End Meadow | Nick Moyes via Flickr. Licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

A stunning patchwork of 16 meadows that bursts with wildflowers in the summer.

This site has also never been treated with pesticides, so it’s a haven for wildlife. Along with a range of butterflies, you might also spot an orchid or two if you visit during late spring and summer.

The meadows are at Cromford Hill. Find more info on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust website.

The Millennium Meadow was voted as the best way to herald the arrival of the year 2000 by local residents.

Find out more on the Duffield Parish Council website.

The Big Butterfly Count 2021 starts on 16th July and ends on 8th August. You can find out more about how you can take part here: https://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/about

Common Blue Butterfly at Pleasley Pit Ian Hurst