Dimmingsdale

Dimmingsdale is truly one of Staffordshire’s hidden gems.

This enchanting and beautiful valley is a haven for walkers, nature lovers and those seeking tranquillity and spectacular scenery.

Forming part of the Churnet Valley in the Staffordshire Moorlands it is located between Alton and Oakamoor and is managed by Forestry Commission and Staffordshire County Council.

Lakes, streams and rivers combine with a mixture of broadleaf trees and spectacular Scots Pines and huge sandstone rocky outcrops to create spectacular scenery and an amazing haven for wildlife, which is beautiful at anytime of the year.

Its beauty and tranquillity has been recognised by regional and national media – The Sunday Times stated Dimmingsdale was one of the most beautiful places to walk in winter, Midlands’s television stated it as one of the best places to view Autumnal colours and it regularly features in regional press as one of Staffordshire’s hidden gems. Affectionately known as “Little Switzerland” and “Fairy Glen” it was also described by a priest as”the closest place to heaven”!

Nature and Wildlife

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.

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.

Staffordshire Nature Conservation also host regular talks and presentations at the Ramblers Retreat.

Dimmingsdale is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

History of Dimmingsdale

Dimmingsdale has an interesting history!

It was once a scene of industrial squalor where smelters extracted iron and lead ore from rocks mined in the Peak District. However, by the 1800’s the smelting trade was dead.

It was around this time that the Earl of Shrewsbury chose to transform Dimmingsdale into his own personal country paradise thus creating this glorious valley.

And now the Forestry Commission has turned an aristocrat’s dream into a delight for all to enjoy, by creating a range of walks throughout this tranquil valley.

The Legend of the Chained Oak:
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.