Welcome to Dimmingsdale Valley (SSSI). A site of ecological & historical importance in the heart of Staffordshire.
Dimmingsdale is a haven for wildlife. Its lakes, streams and rivers combine with a mix of broadleaf and spectacular Scots pines to provide the perfect habitat.
On the lakes you will see all different types of wild fowl –heron, kingfisher, moorhen, Canadian Geese; mallards to name but a few.
A little harder to see are the residents actually in the lakes – Crayfish, frogs, toads, newts, trout and a host of other insect and other invertebrates.
Spotted and Green Woodpecker can be heard echoing through the valley, buzzards soar above it and pied flycatchers, redstarts and the willow warbler are also residents of this tranquil place. It is also home to Tawny and Little Owls and many more common woodland birds.
The trees also provide shelter and protection for a host of mammals – badgers, foxes, hares, rabbits, grey squirrels, hedgehogs, stoats, and weasels. There have even been sightings of Muntjac deer and pine martins in the area!
The valley is also a perfect habitat for woodland flowers. In spring, the slopes are a carpet of bluebells, wood anemones and wood sorrel. In the summer, ferns, foxgloves and blackberries abound.
Earl’s Drive is the main route through Dimmingsdale. Built by the Earl of Shrewsbury to allow his horse and carriage to travel through his private paradise, This gravelled route gives stunning views through the centre of the valley, overlooking lakes, streams and woodland. It’s the best way to get the full Dimmingsdale experience, with the majority of all other routes through the valley joining to this magnificent drive.
This historical railway line now provides a great route for ramblers, cyclists, horse riders and the occasional llama walker to access Oakamoor, Alton, Dimmingsdale & Denstone. Keep an eye out for wildlife in the old Churnet Canal that runs alongside the route as well as historical stations and railway bridges!
At the top of the valley is one of Staffordshire most important remaining ancient hill pastures, now classed as a site of Special Scientific Interest. Covered with heather, tough grasses and bilberry and interspersed with yellow tormentil and heath bedstraw. Special wetland plants, such as yellow bog asphodel and sphagnum mosses nestle in hollows beside the path.
This beautiful pasture attracts a plethora of insects – grasshoppers, hoverflies, bees, brown and large skipper butterflies are just a few of the pasture’s residents. The area simply shimmers in summer with insect life.
As part of Dimmingsdale’s transformation to a country paradise by the Earl of Shrewsbury, a series of fishing ponds were created within the valley by damming the stream. After the collapse of the Earl’s estate, the ponds were taken over by nature and still are home to a plethora of fauna today. These ponds form the centre of the forest trail today. In the lakes, you can find crayfish, frogs, toads, newts, trout and a host of other insect and other invertebrates.
Within the valley is a large, extremely old Oak tree smothered with chains. Legend has it that in the 1830’s a beggar woman asked the Earl of Shrewsbury for some money. He refused and so she put a curse on him. For every branch that fell off this magnificent Oak, a member of the Earls family would die. Later a branch did fall off the tree and member of the Earls family died. Immediately the Earl of Shrewsbury had chains wrapped around the branches to stop any more branches falling off.
To help us protect Dimmingsdale for future generations, we ask that all visitors stick to the forest code:
*Please note, BBQs, camping, overnight parking, campfires and smoking are not permitted in Dimmingsdale Valley, smoking is only allowed in the car parks.
As Dimmingsdale is managed by Forestry England, events require authorisation. If you are organising a commercial, charity or personal event in Dimmingsdale, please email the local team with details of your request.
Dimmingsdale car parks are open daily 8am-6pm, after which they are locked by Forestry England . Please note- car park hours change seasonally, please contact Forestry England for current hours.