Scenery and Natural History of the Matlock Area

The section above shows how Matlock came to be sitting at the intersection of the White Peak (limestone) and Dark Peak (gritstone/sandstone) areas.  This gives the area a diversity of landscape and soils, and therefore of flora.  The area to the north of Matlock is gritstone and has light, acidic soils.  That to the south is limestone and therefore alkaline soils.  However these general tendencies can be complicated by “head” deposits.  For an explanation of how this scenery developed see the section on the geology of the Peak District.

Gritstone Areas

The gritstone areas to the north of Matlock have typically light, poor, acidic soils.  Moorland shows poor drainage with run-off from high ground.  There are exposed rocks and cliffs (some being old quarries).  Whilst it has given the area some fine building stones, the gritstone edges themselves tend to have a limited range of flora. Examples of this type of scenery can be found at Farley Moor, Cuckoostone Dale and Lumsdale / Bentleybrook Quarries

Click on each image below to see explanation

As the pictures show, the upland areas are typically moorland or forestry.  Soils are thin and sandy with numerous gritstone rocks.  Trees such as pines and birch tend to predominate.  In open areas, heather, bilberry, cranberry and rhododendron thrive on the acid soil.  Where there are exposed rocks and cliffs, they are typical of the “Dark Peak” region further north.

Limestone Areas

The limestone areas to the south of Matlock (Matlock Bath and Cromford, and both sides of the Derwent) are quite different from the gritstone to the north.  The soil, being alkaline or neutral and well-drained, is more fertile.  Again there are exposed rocks and cliffs but they are typical of the “White Peak”.  Oak and ash are common and there is a wider variety of flowers and vegetation, including the specialist lime-lovers.  Examples of this can be found on the slopes of Masson Hill and the woods of Shining Cliff and Matlock Dale.  To find out how the spectacular Matlock Gorge, beloved of artists, was formed, please see this link

Click on each image below to see explanation