Hilton Gravel Pits
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!
Know before you go
Parking informationPark on Willowpit Lane
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.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitEvenings 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.
Take a look at the latest sightings
Week Starting 6th September 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire in the week starting 6th September
Week Starting 30th August 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire in the week starting 30th August
Week Starting 9th August 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire in the week starting 9th August 2021
Fortnight Starting 26th July 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire the fortnight starting 26th July 2021
Mid July 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire in mid July
Week Starting 5th July 2021 Sightings Blog
Your wildlife sightings in Derbyshire the week starting 7th July 2021
Nearby nature reserves
Download our nature reserve leaflets
Check out the reserve map
Play Wild rating
Play Wild all year round. Pond dipping and trails - just be aware of the deep water.