Throughout my whole life I have never lived more than an hour away from Tywell Hills and Dales yet surprisingly I had never visited this green space. It is DEFINITELY a hidden gem! With planned walking routes around the park, to local villages with a wealth of pubs and cafes and free parking (a winner in this area!)
Twywell Hills and Dales is a 135 acre countryside site which takes its name from the abandoned quarry workings which created its hilly landscape. Most of the site has been allowed to go back to nature and it is now a haven for wildlife. The site has three main areas:
- This first area is the one that we spent the majority of our time exploring; Whitestones it is an area where limestone quarrying took place, which now consists of open grassland and a series of spoil heaps and damp hollows. The abandoned spoil heaps are covered in limestone grassland and provides a habitat for less common insects and butterflies. We saw so many different butterflies fluttering around in the breeze!
- The Gullet is a deep gorge-like quarry formed by digging. The area has been designated a SSSI (site specific scientific interest) because of its rich wildlife. Whilst the pond is home to a variety of invertebrates and to a colony of great crested newts. We didn’t visit this particular location today but will definitely coming back to visit again within the next few weeks!
- The Wood is mainly coniferous and was created after the ironstone extraction ceased, beginning with the planting in 1932. Further planting took place during the 1950’s. The wood contains a network of wide grassy rides, from where you may be fortunate to see fallow or muntjac deer, unfortunately on this occasion we didn’t but gain we will visit soon and hopefully spot one!
As a side note, we began by following the signposts to Cranford but my dog couldn’t figure out the style so I ended up having to pick him up. This in itself is trouble enough as he’s a big boy but he had rolled in lots of puddles/mud on the way. Safe to say I looked like I had been in the puddles too! We then changed our route and ended up walking about 2 miles to Tywell and back again.
Tip: take some cash with you as here is a pub with a lovely garden in Tywell!
Have you discovered this local SSSI? If you have, what wildlife have you spotted whilst walking around the area? Do you have any routes leading to/from the area that you would recommend? I’d love to hear your opinions!