A troop of volunteers armed with spades and shears have spent years battling weeds and creepy crawlies to preserve an ancient Matlock landscape.
Hidden away between Steep Turnpike and Lime Tree Road, many Matlock residents could be forgiven for not knowing about the town’s own little piece of paradise.
But for more than ten years, volunteer rangers have been working to maintain the natural beauty of Denefields.
Gary Wain, community wild spaces officer for charty Groundwork Cresswell, Ashfield and Mansfield, which manages the site on behalf of Matlock Town Council, has been involved with the Denefields Project for three years.
He said: “It’s important to maintain the nature reserve because it’s quite a couple of traditional ancient fields.
“It’s not been developed over the years, mainly I think because it’s on a slope.
“It’s unimproved meadow land and there’s not much of it left because it is either built upon or farmed.”
Gary explained that in order to help wild flowers to grow on the site, the volunteers tend to cut back the grass.
“We have a variety of wildflowers including bluebells, ladie’s smock, meadow cranesbill and meadow sweet,” he added.
He said the site also features a pond and an old oak tree which dates back hundreds of years – known locally as the ‘bachelor tree’ or the ‘footy tree’ because of its proximity to Matlock Town FC’s football ground.
Over the years volunteers have worked on different projects on the site, including gardens to help encourage butterflies and bees.
“It’s just one of the few natural undeveloped unspoilt places in Matlock and it’s a nice green area for people to go and relax, but it’s also important for wildlife,” Gary continued.
He said the wildflowers attract insects, which in term attract birds.
At the moment there are approximately 12 volunteer rangers involved in the project and every Thursday a number of them meet to work on the site.
“We get everyone from students who come to get experience to retired people,” Gary said.
The rangers have uniforms which are provided by Matlock Derwent Valley Lions Club.
As well as Denefields, the team look after three other sites in Matlock – the wild thyme garden near Cavendish Road, Bailey’s tump, near Asker Lane,and the nature area on Wellfields allotments, in Chesterfield Road.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Gary on 07866678048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.