which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Crich Chase Meadows

Kieron Huston
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Crich Chase Meadows

Crich Chase Meadows is one of lowland Derbyshire’s most exciting and important wildlife sites. Its fields have never been fertilised or sprayed and it is still traditionally managed by a local farmer on behalf of the landowner National Grid. A walk across the grassland anytime from April to October will reveal a rich variety of life. Over one hundred plant species can be found including cowslips, agrimony, restharrow, field scabious, betony, heath speedwell, common bird’s-foot-trefoil, common knapweed and harebells. The plants are food for bees, wasps, bugs, moths, beetles and butterflies. In fact twenty-five different butterflies have been recorded at the site and on a single walk between July and August you might see as many as eighteen species. This could include the ‘wall’ a butterfly that has declined over the last ten years, but hangs on at Crich Chase, now its most southerly location in the County. Other species of conservation interest include the small heath, dingy skipper and if you are lucky you might see a purple hairstreak flitting above the leaves of mature oak trees. The Essex skipper has recently arrived at the site and in 2010 there was a sighting of a marbled white. Perhaps this will be the next species to colonise? Other interesting insects include a rare jewel beetle, mining bees, over fifty different hoverflies, three species of grasshopper and at least seven species of bumblebee.   

Across the grassland, especially where the soils are more acid in nature over one hundred different species of fungi may be found fruiting in the autumn. A recent survey has concluded that the site is nationally important for it’s assemblage of waxcap fungi. 

Birds too abound in the woodlands, scrub and meadows, most noticeably in spring and early summer when the site rings with the songs of willow warbler, garden warbler, blackcap, dunnock, bullfinch, song thrush, wrens and robins. All three British woodpeckers are found in this area and may be seen flying over the site or feeding in the adjacent woodlands. In winter the woodcock feeds around the woodland and meadow edges.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has now identified over five hundred species that rely on this site. But we are keen to carry on building a picture of the wildlife of the meadows so please feel free to notify the Trust of your own wildlife sightings in the future.

The meadows are accessible on public footpaths from the end of Top Hagg Lane, Fritchley (SK351523). 

agrimont on Chase Meadows


Grey Mining Bee on Chase Meadow

Grey Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria)

Crich chase Meadow butterfly

Small Tortoise shell butterfly

Chase Meadows butterfly

Wall Butterfly

All the photographs were taken by Kieron Huston on Crich Chase Meadows (except the 'wall" butterfly which was taken at Alport Heights to replace one of lesser clarity taken on the Meadows).

Members of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust support this County effort to preserve local wildlife.
Kieron Huston is the Senior Wildlife Sites Officer of the DWT can be contacted as follows:

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