Location and access
OS map ref: SK 376219 (Sheet 128)
The reserve lies at the head of Staunton Harold Reservoir near Calke Abbey. It is best approached via the B587, north from the A42 Ashby junction. Follow the road for 2 km past Staunton Harold Hall, take the first left turn towards Calke and park in the Picnic Area car park, which is on the left before reaching the reservoir. Access to the reserve itself is on the roadside about 50 m beyond the bridge over the reservoir.
Public transport - contact Traveline for further information www.traveline.org.uk or phone 0871 200 22 33.
Please keep to the paths - it is dangerous to stray from them, as there are several old mine shafts on the reserve.
There is no access to the meadow.
We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible. Most of our reserves are easily accessible by bicycle, with many close to the National Cycle Network. Please note that cycling is not permitted on the nature reserve itself.
Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but only on leads.
The reserve, which is partly in Derbyshire and partly in Leicestershire, is owned by Severn Trent Water and managed by the Trust. It covers 23.5 ha and is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
History, habitats & management
Almost all of the woodland part of the reserve has been affected by mineral exploitation. Limestone and lead mining took place for 200 years up to the end of the nineteenth century. The largest of the pools is the now flooded Laundry Quarry from the base of which mine adits were driven south and limestone extracted. The mined limestone was burnt in kilns at the bottom of Laundry Quarry. A branch of the Ashby to Ticknall Tramway was opened in 1830 to carry the burnt lime from the site.
The pools to the north of this tramway are flooded quarries. Limestone was illegally extracted around 1850 and caused the collapse of the roof of the workings, thus creating a terrain much as is seen today, with exposed gritstone faces up to 4 m high.
A cottage on the eastern bank of Laundry Pool became a Laundry for Staunton Harold Hall in 1898. This has now disappeared and all other buildings on the site were razed at the time of the construction of Staunton Harold Reservoir, completed in 1961. No limestone is now exposed, but limestone shales are exposed in numerous places. Two prominent bands of sandstone occur and these have been exploited in the past for building stone.
Habitats include heath grassland, open water, streams, damp woodland, scrub and bracken-covered glades.
The large field to the south and east of the wood has acid soils, which support heath grassland species including sheep's fescue and heath grass, with frequent heath bedstraw and harebell. Hares are often seen in the field, as well as green woodpeckers, which feed on ants. The field's wildlife interest is maintained by a careful programme of grazing, without the use of fertilisers or chemicals.
The main management task is to keep the paths open and the bridges and steps in good order. Removal of sycamore, a highly invasive non-native tree, is also being undertaken.
Features of interest
The path around the reserve is almost all through mixed woodland. The area around the entrance is hawthorn scrub. The geology gives rise to a varied flora and the general mixture of habitat types results in a very varied insect fauna. Deer are occasionally seen on the reserve and the birdlife is typical of broadleaved woodland. The Laundry Pool, which acts as a settling pond for the Calke Brook, contains large pike and perch. (Fishing is not allowed.) In January / February, a large number of snowdrops bloom at the south-western end of the reserve.
Live near here? Want to help out?
Why not join one of our teams of volunteers. We have regular work parties covering reserves in this area including Dimminsdale. For more information contact us.