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Priestcliffe Lees

A steep limestone hillside above the River Wye and the Monsal Trail; known for its wildflowers

Priestcliffe Lees Nature Reserve lies on a steep limestone hillside above the River Wye and the Monsal Trail. It is best known for its wild flowers and you can see most of these from two public footpaths that climb up through the reserve. If you can't manage the stiff climb, you can still enjoy the breathtaking views over the Wye Valley by approaching the top of the reserve from the village of Priestcliffe. On the reserve, bumpy lead spoil heaps are a reminder of the area's lead mining past. Lead spoil heaps are renowned for the special flowers they support and are distinctive to Derbyshire. In summer these top areas are alive with yellow mountain pansy and the tiny white flowers of leadwort. Breathe in the fresh hilltop air and you will be rewarded with the fragrant scent of thyme. Other limestone flowers are more suited to the sheltered conditions lower down the slopes. Among these are several varieties of orchid, including early purple, common spotted and fragrant. The flowers here attract various butterflies, including dark green fritillary. Many birds enjoy the cover of the trees on the lower slopes. The ash woodland contains wych elm, bird cherry and purging buckthorn. Some birds, such as redstarts, blackcaps and willow warblers, visit for the summer. Among the year-round residents are tree-creepers, green woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Play Wild rating:

 Take extra care.

To find out more about our Play Wild programme see here

Species and habitats

Grassland, Woodland
Common Spotted orchid, Dark Green Fritillary, Wych Elm

Nearby nature reserves

Cramside Wood
1 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Miller's Dale Quarry
1 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Chee Dale
3 miles - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

South east of Buxton
Map reference
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Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
40.00 hectares
Walking information
From the car park, follow the Monsal Trail. Alternatively, to avoid a long walk and steep climb, park at the village of Priestcliffe Lees and approach the top of the reserve.
Park at Miller's Dale Station car park
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01773 881188