The aim of Dronfield's Lea Brook Valley Project is to enhance the beauty, amenities and wildlife habitat of the valley, for the benefit of both the town and the wildlife.

This project is an excellent example of people coming together from different organisations and being able to work together for a good cause. Dronfield is a Derbyshire town half way between Sheffield and Chesterfield and just three miles from the Peak District National Park.

In 2005 the practical part of the project started up when a group of volunteers decided to join forces to clean up the half-a-mile stretch between Sheards Drive and Lea Road. After 18 months of hard work, the valley was transformed from an underused area filled with rubbish, to a thriving beauty spot, enjoyed by residents and wildlife alike. Rubbish was removed, a new woodland path built to protect wildflowers, timberwork repaired, bat and bird boxes installed and stream pollution was reduced.

The local volunteer group meets on the first Thursday of every month at 9.30am at the recycling bins in the car park next to Dronfield Sports Centre. A range of activities take place varying from litter picks, repairing bird and bat boxes to maintaining footpaths.

Woodland path. Photo by Norman Crowson

Woodland path. Photo by Norman Crowson

Wildlife in the valley now includes more than 127 species of wild flowers, at least 85 species of birds (45 of these species nesting), 3 species of dragonflies, 8 species of butterflies and 5 mammal species. Work has begun to develop a sustainable wetland area at the top of the valley; this is a partnership with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, The Town Council and the owners of the land, Yorkshire Water.

We are preparing a management plan to guide the work done by all parties concerned. As a start to this process, in November 2013, we joined forces with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Water in national tree planting week. A new row of 1000 trees was planted at the edge of the wetland, behind the screen of long-body poplars at the top of the valley. This allows the existing poplars to be replaced; they affect the TV reception of the houses nearby (a number of residents have requested their removal). This is an exciting addition to our work plan improving the top corner of the pond area; it is an important area for biodiversity and the wildlife benefit.

A new hands on, part-time internship position of Project Manager, has arisen at Lea Brook Valley.

If you would like more information or would like to get involved with the work happening at Lea Brook Valley, please contact Norman Crowson via uk@arocha.org or leabrook.valley@btinternet.com.

In addition to A Rocha UK, the project works together with Churches Together in Dronfield and District, Dronfield Town Council, Yorkshire Water, Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity Partnership, Dronfield Civic Society, Dronfield Natural History Society, NE Derbyshire District Council, the Dronfield Footpaths and Bridleways Society, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the local people.

Lea Brook Valley

Lea Brook Valley map board graphic. You're most probably not actually 'here'!