Visit the tropical seas of Derbyshire
A few weeks ago, I took a trip back in time: 330 million years ago, during the Lower Carboniferous – Britain was located just south of the equator and Derbyshire was a series of tropical seas, crisscrossed by deep water gulfs, shallow lagoons with fringing and patch reefs.
Don’t believe me? Then go see for yourself! Set in the heart of the Derbyshire dales, the National Stone Centre is nestled into a small valley crammed with ancient tropical reefs, rocks and minerals and centuries of history.
The trail around the centre site allows people to visit 6 former quarries, 4 lime kilns and houses over 120 disused lead mine shafts – all within 50 acres of Derby countryside.Don’t think Geology is for you? The National Stone Centre has a lot to offer; art, industrial history, local history, conservation and ecology and a wide range of countryside exploits (such as dry stone walling) which are offered as courses.
Every September the National Stone Centre hosts the acclaimed Wirksworth Arts Festival providing materials and a muse for the artists who come and work on the site. Many pieces of art are now permanent features of the centre.
Visitors can learn about the story of stone in the discover centre and children can pan for gems whilst their parents sit back and relax enjoying homemade food and cakes and coffee at the café. It was pleasant to observe the children carrying their own pan of sand to shallow (safe) ponds of clean water and to watch their eyes brighten with glee as the semi-precious gems became apparent.
The National Stone Centre is a SSSI and is the home to the Millenium Wall which was the result of the combined efforts of 150 members of the Dry Stone Walling Association who clubbed together to construct a dry stone wall composed of 19 different sections, each section reflecting the local style and unique local materials.
It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area – and remember to check out their variety of countryside skills that they offer as courses.