A big thank you to beloved volunteer George Challenger.

After about 50 years of being involved with the Miller's Dale reserve loved volunteer George Challenger is hanging up his tools.

We just want to say a huge thank you to George for all of his hard work at our Miller's Dale reserve.

George has been involved in the site since negotiations took place around 1970.

Quarrying had ceased on site in the 1930s because of the danger of the limestone quarry face slipping on the volcanic bed which turned to clay when exposed. ICI owned the quarry back then and wanted to dispose of it. They offered it to the Peak National Park Authority which agreed to accept it as derelict land if the big concrete crushing plant was blown up.  

Millers Dale crushing plant

Barrie Pendlebury of the Nature Conservancy Council recognized that the quarry floor (which then looked like  Station Quarry opposite does now) was valuable for flora and fauna. So the Trust leased it from the PDNPA.

Barrie chaired the management committee for many years and George arranged Sunday work parties from 1973 to until 2007. 

He remembers the excitement of finding Daphne mezereum during one of the first work parties and has recorded them every year since. Penny Anderson, another long term member of the committee, has been recording bee orchids , fragrant orchids and globe flowers there since 1973.

For many years the work parties George organised concentrated on removing sycamores and George would sometimes come in on other days to remove seedlings. Later the work shifted to focus on preventing the scrub from taking over the open grassland habitat of the quarry floor. George said that this was comparable to 'painting the Forth Bridge, even with the help over the last few years from the grazing sheep!'.

Miller's Dale was treeless in 1972 and now it is mostly woodland - a beautiful transition for the site and for the wildlife that now call it their home.    

George says  ‘I have found working as a volunteer on Millers Dale Reserve interesting and rewarding. I enjoyed meeting many helpful people'.

We have loved working with you George, thank you so much for all of your work over these wonderful years.

George on a work part (volunteer)

(George is on the far left in the above photograph).