Natural England - Lathkill Dale (SSSI and NNR)

Lathkill Dale (SSSI and NNR)

Location and Access Information
Grid Reference: SK 187658

The steep-sided valley of Lathkill Dale lies 5 km south of Bakewell, between the villages of Over Haddon, Monyash and Youlgrave. Cut through the Carboniferous Limestone, it runs some 5km west-east between Monyash and Alport. It contains examples of a very wide range of habitats found in the Dales, including ancient broadleaved woodland, mixed scrub, calcareous and acidic grasslands, scree and rock-outcrop communities. There are car parks at Over Haddon, Moor Lane, Youlgrave and Conksbury Bridge and bus services run from Over Haddon, Monyash and Youlgreave. Lathkill Dale forms part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve (NNR).

For further details, see the Derbyshire Dales NNR page

Geological Interest

Three distinct types of geological interest occur at Lathkill Dale; limestone surface features (karst), caves and Carboniferous Limestone geology. The caves and spectacular limestone dry valley system of Lathkill Dale occupy a unique position on the central limestone plateau of Derbyshire. Seasonal flow from springs occurs along part of the main river but the caves and river receive no external supply of drainage, appearing to rely solely on percolation and collection of rainfall from the plateau.

The three detached caves are significant in terms of their size, and the sediments they contain provide valuable evidence of events which occurred during the Ice Age (Pleistocene), when under arctic tundra conditions the caves and gorge were being formed. Tufa, precipitated from calcium carbonate in running water has formed excellent tufa screens in the river bed. The rocks exposed in Ricklow and Monyash Quarries afford sections through an outstanding example of a shallow marine shelf-reef, a limestone structure composed of and formed by marine organisms, and of great importance in the interpretation of the geological history of the Derbyshire area during early Carboniferous times, some 340 million years ago.