Hilton Gravel Pits

Hilton Gravel Pits

(C) George Bird

Hilton Gravel Pits, Kelvin Lawrence

Hilton Gravel Pits, Kelvin Lawrence

Bat, Robert Booth

Bat, Robert Booth

Great crested newt, The Wildlife Trusts

Great crested newt, The Wildlife Trusts 

Emperor Dragonfly, Tony Pioli

Emperor Dragonfly, Tony Pioli

Great crested grebe, Hilton Pete via Flickr

Great crested grebe, Hilton Pete via Flickr

Please note: Part of the circular walk is currently closed due to nesting birds. We thank you for your understanding (Updated 29th April).

These worked-out gravel pits provide refuge for a number of species in fact it's one of the best places to see bats and dragonflies in Derbyshire! There's a pond dipping platform and loads of trails - enjoy!


Willowpit Lane,

DE65 5FW

OS Map Reference

SK 25376 31392
A static map of Hilton Gravel Pits

Know before you go

29 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Park on Willowpit Lane

Grazing animals


Walking trails

Lots of trails all around the reserve to explore. The water in the ponds is deep - please keep to the paths.


The track along the field gate entrance is in largely good condition and provides access to a bird viewing screen. Paths on other areas of the site are flat but are often muddy and unsuitable for wheelchairs. 


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

Evenings for bats, February for the great crested grebe's mating dance, summer for orchids and autumn for fungi

About the reserve

The combination of lakes and ponds, woodland and sheltered sunny areas make the former gravel pits at Hilton a haven for wildlife.

The reserve supports species that are fast declining in this country including the great crested newt and black poplar.

The reserve is well-known for its dragonflies and damselflies. Fifteen species have been recorded here, among them the emperor and ruddy darter dragonflies and the emerald and red-eyed damselflies.

The old gravel pit settling beds provide a sheltered area where they can feed and where plants such as southern marsh orchids and common twayblade have now established themselves. The ponds and lakes attract many species of waterfowl. You can see coot, great crested grebe and tufted duck, while in spring the water is an amphibian nursery - frogs, toads, great crested and common newts all breed here.

A streak of blue flashing across the water will alert you to the presence of a kingfisher. Walk through the woodland in autumn and you will find a wealth of fungi growing near the path - among the many species that flourish here are fly agaric and shaggy inkcap.

Please note that dogs are no longer permitted in the main area of this nature reserve. This is to protect our grazing livestock and the reserve's wildlife. Dogs are still permitted on the main perimeter track that runs from Willowpit Lane to Sutton Lane. 

Contact us

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01773 881188

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Volunteer here

Get hands on

Take a look at the latest sightings

Nearby nature reserves

Download our nature reserve leaflets

Check out the reserve map

Hilton Gravel Pits map

Hilton Gravel Pits map

Play Wild rating

Play Wild all year round. Pond dipping and trails - just be aware of the deep water.

Learn more about Play Wild

Play Wild green

Play Wild green