Wildlife-rich Peak District farmland purchased by the National Trust

The charity spent £2.15 million on the hay meadows and grasslands, in a bid to halt the dramatic decline of butterfly and bee populations.

Meadows at High Fields, purchased by the National Trust © Michael Scott & Caters

Two farms in the Peak District, covering 1.86 km2, have been acquired by the National Trust (NT), which aims to conserve and enhance the wildlife.

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The £2.15 million deal secures the equivalent of 260 football pitches worth of rich hay meadows and wildlife rich grassland in the White Peak.

Watch this video from the National Trust to find out more:

“Both farms support unusually large areas of hay meadows and flower rich grassland which are not just beautiful to look at, but are important habitats for wild plants and insects in particular,” says Jon Stewart, general manager for the NT in the Peak District.

“Whilst we cannot be certain of the impact of post-Brexit support for farming and land management, we do know the White Peak is an area that could be farmed more intensively; and by buying this land we have the opportunity to conserve and enhance what is there and work with other farmers and land managers to contribute to caring for the wider landscape and ensuring connectivity.”

The purchase was made possible by legacies left to the NT by generous supporters, and is the largest farm acquisition made by the charity since it bought Trevose Head In Cornwall in 2016.

The farms consist of land at High Fields at Stoney Middleton and Greensides near Buxton, both home to an eclectic array of British flora, small mammals, insects and birds, all of which thrive on the plant species which will now be protected.

Dark green fritillary butterfly in the White Peak. © Michael Scott & Caters
Dark green fritillary butterfly in the White Peak. © Michael Scott & Caters

Bees and butterflies, including the common blue, rely on the variety of flora present, such as the yellow mountain pansy and common rock rose, both flowers of which thrive in the unusual geology of the area and the acidic, neutral and calcareous soils it provides.

Dan Abrahams from Natural England says, “We are delighted that the National Trust has acquired these two highly significant areas of land within the White Peak.”

“One forms a unique ring-fenced farmstead of the highest conservation value, while the other is a key part of the wildlife-rich landscape adjacent to Longstone Edge. We look forward to working closely with the National Trust over the coming years to maximise the potential of these sites.”

Part of the purchased land in the White Peak. © Michael Scott
Part of the purchased land in the White Peak. © Michael Scott
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The purchase coincides with this year’s National Meadow Day (7 July), organised by the Save Our Magnificent Meadows partnership, where participants throughout the UK can get involved with fun activities designed to promote meadow preservation.