2016 courses available now.

Limited spaces available so book early.

Dry Stone Walling Courses

We also run introductory Traditional Stone Craft courses. Why not book onto one of our Dry Stone Walling Courses for Beginners, or if you've already completed the Dry Stone Walling Course for Beginners then we also offer an advanced Dry Stone Walling Course.

 dry stone walling

Stone Carving Courses

Try your skills at stone sculpturing with our Stone Carving Course.

The stone carving course is one of our most popular courses so its wise to book early.

stonecarving 

 

 

Ever heard of Dingy Skipper, Wall Brown, Small Heath or White Letter Hairstreak? They are all rare types of protected butterflies, and if it wasn’t for the National Stone Centre, they would be rarer still.

The six former limestone quarries that make up the National Stone Centre nowadays carry an interesting variety of wild plants and flowers, attracting an abundance of insects, such as bees and butterflies. Last year we invited the Butterfly Conservation to come and help us with a butterfly survey.

The Butterfly Conservation is a British charity devoted to saving butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout the UK. The aim of the organisation is to stop the alarming decline of many butterfly and moth species in Britain.

Ken Orpe, Butterfly Conservation recorder for Derbyshire, along with a number of experienced volunteers, set up a fixed route, which saw them walk the same route once a week for 26 weeks, to establish what types of butterflies the National Stone Centre hosts.

Ken and his colleagues were delighted when it soon became evident that the site contained four ‘BAP’-registered butterflies, meaning that they’re on the UK’s ‘biodiversity action plan’ list and that active steps are taken to bring the species back to healthy numbers. During their visits the Butterfly Conservation recorded the Small Heath, the Dingy Skipper, the Wall Brown and probably the rarest resident butterfly in Derbyshire - the White Letter Hairstreak, which is totally reliant on elm to survive.

Small Heath
 
Dingy Skipper 
 

 
 Small Heath - Ron Turner Dingy Skipper - Dave Evans    
Wall Brown male  White Letter Hairstreak 
 Wall Brown (M) - Derek Brownlee White Letter Hairstreak - Colin Bowler

Over the last 40 years the White Letter Hairstreak has become the most declining species in the whole of the UK, largely due to the effects of Dutch elm disease. Fortunately, there are a number of Wych elm trees on site at the National Stone Centre, and the White Letter Hairstreak will hopefully continue to thrive as long as the elms remain healthy and undisturbed.

The total number of butterflies recorded during Ken’s time at the National Stone Centre came to over 1,000, consisting of 24 species, together with some interesting day flying moths. There have also been interesting sightings of the Peak District version of the Brown Argus together with the day flying moth, Wood Tiger, both of which are very local to the Peak District.

With about 30 butterfly species regularly recorded across the UK each year, there is every possibility that additional butterfly species will be recorded at the National Stone Centre in 2016. The Butterfly Conservation has already signed up six volunteers who are eagerly awaiting another exciting butterfly season at the National Stone Centre.

Anthony Elgey, Trustee of the National Stone Centre, said, “This is great news that the Stone Centre is providing rare species an environment where they can flourish.”

Brimstone male  Comma  Common Blue - male 
Brimstone (M) - Brian Romans  Comma - Ken Orpe  Common Blue (m) - Dave Hatfield
 Painted Lady  Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell  Red Admiral
 Painted Lady - Mark Searle  Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell- Willy Lane Red Admiral - Jane Rogers
Holly Blue - Female Orange-tip Male Wood Tiger Moth
Holly Blue (F) - Ken Orpe Orange Tip (M) - Mick Ball Wood Tiger Moth - Ken Orpe

volunteer-opportunities

Did you know the National Stone Centre (NSC) is run by a small team of volunteers?

Recieiving no funding the NSC site remains open to the public through donations and monies raised through the exhibition entrance fee.

 

To maintain this site and keep it open to the great British Public we need volunteers to help run everything from administration to site management.

 

Can you spare some time to help manage this site?

Contact us today.

 

 

With a plan to impove the site there is much greater biodiveristy to explore. 

Natural England is the body looks after the National Stone Centre site and is in particular, reponsible for our custodianship of the SSSI (Site of Special Scientiific Interest) with respect to our on site  geology and geological fossil beds.  They are also responsible for our general management of the site; for example, the  woodland , flora and fauna but being non SSSI.

The NSC plan will replant with native english species, in particuler Hazel and other specific species found in the much older and well established Via Gellia valley that will encourage a wider variety of birds to adopt our site.  For example, Yew, Guelder Rose, Burnet Rose, Bird Cherry and Alder.  All bird friendly species.

qiw-ah-coverfinalThe founder of the National Stone Centre  and Ex Director of the National Stone Centre, Ian Thomas, has written a new book on the "Quarrying Industry in Wales-a history."  The book was funded largely by the Aggregates Levy Fund in Wales.

The 224 page, full colour, bilingual book entitled ‘Quarrying industry in Wales – a history’ is a UK first, illustrating for a broad readership, the development, an industry vital to us all but invariably overlooked. Wales, usually associated with coal, steel and slate, all ably recorded, is still a key source of stone.

It has been well received and is available direct from The National Stone Centre for £19.95, including postage and packaging to UK (overseas postage at cost).  To read more details and place your order visit this link: Quarrying Industry in Wales

Our 2015 programme dates are now on line.

Please browse the dates to choose one that meets your personal requirements

and then please look to booking one or more courses ON LINE.

Click here to read about our dry stone walling courses

Click here to read about our stone carving courses

The new Veolia supported “ GeoTrail” signage has just been installed so there are now new information boards, finger posts and site maps around the site pointing out items of special interest.

This is an exciting new development highlighting the special geological aspects of the site that lie behind the allocation of site being designated a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” (SSSI). A scheme that is overseen in our case by Natural England.

The older “General National Stone Centre Trail” (Designated Blue) encompassing the Geology, Ecology and Industrial Archaeology will be re-instated shortly.

The National Stone Centre is a Charity receives no public funding.
The National Stone Centre has undergone significant changes recenty and our new set of Trustees are working hard to ensure that is well loved and returns to being viable.

It is important to realise that the National Stone Centre is a long standing charity based organisation based around the education of school children who visit the site during the academic year. Our assets are largely un-gated and the general public are most welcome to walk around and explore the numerous interesting aspects of the site.

But without your financial support, we will not be able to keep the site open for the schoolchildren to explore the unique geological aspects of the site or for you to enjoy as general family visitors, geologists, cyclists, ecologists, general (High Peak Trail) walkers or dog owners.

We therefore humbly request that you do pay your requested parking fee, use the facilities, buy food and purchase items from the superb selection of geological based items (books, fossils and gem stones etc) offered for sale in the Treasure in Rocks shop and lastly donate whenever you visit. Our regular visitors (we have many who visit us twice a day), please enjoy the café, the Exhibition, the site in general and donate regularly using our various donation boxes. Three are large grit stone Honesty/Donation Stones and one is the Ex Wirksworth Town Council, Council Chamber Safe (the one next to the old train in the car park). Other smaller ones are scattered within the Discovery Centre.

Without your financial support, we will not be able to continue to offer access to the site.

With a large daily footfall of visitors who make use of our facilities, many on regular basis, we would appreciate if the same people could donate a little of their time to help us maintain the facilities they continue to tell us they regularly tell us they enjoy..

If you can spare us the equivalent of a couple of hours a week or even just a couple of hours a month (one dog-walk equivalent or so), please contact us via our web contacts page.

New “Honesty Stone”, “Donations Stone” and Car Parking/Donations “Honesty Safe”
We have installed two new donations stones and a Donations Stone, Car Parking “Honesty Stone” and Car Parking “Honesty Safe.”.  The safe is in the main car park near the access to the High Peak Trail was donated by Wirksworth Town Council.  The other two are made out of “Black Rocks” gritstone that was unexpectedly “unearthed” when excavating foundations for a new warehouse.

One is sited at the entrance to The EcoCentre since all their course visitors to EcoCentre park on National Stone Centre land.  Presently parking is effectively free of charge with almost nothing being donated to the internal EcoCentre Car Parking “Honesty Box” over the period of a year. This Honesty Stone will hopefully be more obvious and encourage their clients to donate additional “car parking” money than we receive at present.

The other is a general “Donations Rock” down by the Discovery Centre.  We would appreciate regular users of The National Stone Centre land, for example dog owners who often frequent twice daily, to walkers and families who use our facilities for many personal reasons, for example to fathers allowing their children to drive motorised miniature vehicles on our land, through to various users who carry out their hobbies on our site (without our permission) etc.  

Need for Donations
The land is 100% owned by the charity, “The National Stone Centre.”  We are 100% volunteer based and receive no public money to support any of our activities, whether our educational work with schoolchildren (presently around 2000 children a year) or the maintenance of the facilities.
Whatever you can afford, would be greatly appreciated so please make a donation to help us maintain the site for public use and the charity as a whole when visiting us by whatever means, whether on foot, by bike, car, campervan or by bus!

The website has be redesigned and is still in a “Beta Testing” stage so please bear with us as it shakes down and final developments take place. You can now book and pay for courses on line as well as send us donations.

Please feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us any comments you may have on the site or use the form on our Contact Page.

New signage around the site is in preparation and should be in place shortly.  New Trial Guides have been prepared.

You are most welcome to come and visit us and see for yourself.

We have also spent time re-organising the Discovery Centre with a refurbished Café area and “Treasure in the Rocks” shop space.

We have spent the winter months refurbishing and renewing the exhibition in the Discovery Centre.  The Exhibition was formally re-opened on May 5th 2014.


The new exhibition covers the story of “Building Britain” from the start of geological time through to today.  It is the first revamp of the exhibition since 1990.

It has been well received so come and see for yourselves.