Friends of Allestree Park

Allestree Park in Derby, England

Wildlife of Allestree Park - Introduction

The wildlife of the park is influenced by the rocks which lie beneath it.


Most of the park, including the lake,  is underlain by thin-bedded shales and sandstones, technically part of the Millstone Grit formation but very different from the thick-bedded sandstone of the true Millstone Grit of the Peak District a little further to the north. They were originally laid down by mighty rivers, about 300 million years ago in the  Carboniferous Period. These rocks have been eroded to form a relatively fertile soil in which a wide range of trees and plants grow.


The higher parts of the Park, on the west side,  are made of the Sherwood Sandstones, formed 250 million years ago in the a vast desert which occupied much of what is now Europe. The thin sandy and acid soils formed from these sandstones support a limited array of trees, notably birch, with a ground flora dominated by bracken - a particularly vigorous fern.

Within these two major habitat zones is found a huge array of different plants and animal species, a few of which are pictured here.



An Exposure of Sherwood (Bunter) Sandstone in   Big Wood

These sandstones were originally laid down as sediment in temporary lakes in a vast desert which covered what is now Britain some 250 million years ago. They contain water-worn pebbles (inset) formed at the same time, during flash-floods.                 .                                                           
pebble beds

 Big Wood in late April


Big Wood stands on the poor dry soils which were formed over  the Sherwood Sandstones. Much of the wood was planted over the last two hundred years, but It probably contains fragments of  'ancient woodland', indicated by patches of bluebells.

big wood bluebells - 1

Stag’s-horn Fungus, Big Wood, November


This spectacular fungus, which grows on dead wood, is  one of the many species found in the wood in autumn.


 stagshorn fungus

Ragged Robin, Woodlands Field, June


This striking relative of red campion is found in marshy locations.

ragged robin

 Yellow Iris or Flag, east end of the Lake, June


This, spectacular flower grows in shallow water at the lake margin

yellow iris

 Small Copper Butterfly, north of Lake, July


This exquisite insect has become more frequent in the Park recent years as more areas of  grassland are spared regular mowing.

small copper

 A party of drake Mallards, Upper Lake, winter


The Mallard is the commonest of British ducks, but one of the most beautiful, especially the male, the drake, looking its best in winter and spring. 




   Photos by Bill Grange


Please note: This is only an introduction to the rich wildlife of Allestree Park. There are several articles on this site on various aspects of the park's natural history. Click on 'articles and special features' tab at the very top of this page.

Articles, observations or photographs on any aspect of Allestree Park's wildlife will be gratefully received for publication on this website.



Allestree Park Nature Trails:

There are now two nature trails in the Park, both marked out by numbered posts and with full leaflet guides with full colour illustrations. For information on these, including how to obtain the leaflets, click on the picture below:


nature trail post



Sunday, January 20, 2019