Features index

Nature in our Walls

Dry stone wall and stile

by Sandra Maycock

Derbyshire, as we know, is famed for its dry-stone walls and Crich parish is no exception. Walking around the parish I've noticed an abundance of low stone walls dividing houses and fields.

I looked on the internet for information and found an interesting article by DEFRA & partners: Defining stone walls of historic and landscape importance. In it there is reference to such old and ancient walls being likened to the significance of old hedgerows; therefore, they should be retained. The article also suggests that stone walls are important features of our landscape and should be regularly checked, allowed to air from vegetation and that tree roots can weaken their foundations.

Fossil at Townend
This fossil is one of those found regularly in the parish - always worth keeping your eyes peeled!

Crich parish has many stone walls, in varying states of repair. Boundary walls around homes and gardens tend to be in good repair, although some do have plant life growing over them. Those in the country lanes tend to support more low-growing plant life where wildlife can live, shelter or feed with less disturbance. These walls then provide rich habitats which are vital to smaller animals living in cold, windy and often wet environments.

When you next go out for a walk, see if you can find and identify creatures or plants living in our stone walls. At dusk, night time or early morning go outside, near to old stone barns or outbuildings to see if there are bats or owls flying. Also look out for the special features of stone walls: they are often continuous, sometimes with 'standing stones' or strong stone gate posts, which are indicators of being old or even ancient.

Most of all, as the majority of stone walls are only one metre high, enjoy the views - nature at its best!

photo by Geoff Brown