The National Stone Centre occupies a dramatic site in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales, on the edge of the Peak District National Park and World Heritage Site. This is a place crammed with fossilised tropical reefs, rocks and minerals, centuries of industrial history and full of wildlife treasures. The site covers 50 acres (20 Ha), about half of which is designated nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its geological features. With over 120 disused lead mine shafts, six abandoned quarries and four lime kilns on site – there is plenty to see and do especially as entry to the site is free!
Attention – please be aware of the uneven nature of the site and the presence of old quarry faces and mine shafts. Children and animals should be kept under close adult supervision at all times.
Look around our indoor exhibition located in the Discovery Centre, which tells 'The Story of Stone' from the formation of the Earth to the present day. Enjoy some refreshment from the café and visit the 'Treasure in the Rocks' Shop, which has probably the finest selection of rocks, fossils and minerals in the Midlands.
In June 2000 over 150 members of the Dry Stone Walling Association from all over Britain built 19 different sections of dry stone wall in their own local materials over one very hectic weekend and completed the Millennium Wall. Wallers and dykers worked in their own traditional styles to make this wonderful outdoor museum of traditional walls.
A trail guide is available from the Discovery Centre covering the geology, ecology and history of our site. The trail largely follows an undulating natural route, but where possible, alternatives have been provided to the steeper slopes. The length of the basic trail is c750m or about half a mile, with options to extend beyond this.
A series of nine circular walks, all along designated public rights of way, have been designed to cover various mining and quarrying industries in the south eastern part of the Peak District. Walks vary in length from 3.5 to 6 miles (1.5 - 4 hours). A guide is available from the Discovery Centre or download information from a pdf file.
The activities at the National Stone Centre make learning fun. Try your hand at gem panning (visitors get to take the gems they find home with them!), fossil rubbing from a wide variety of fossils, or the 'Story of Stone' exhibition quiz – details from the Discovery Centre.
The NSC welcomes groups to visit our site. Various guided tours of the site and to a local working quarry are available for groups of between 10 and 25 by pre-booking. Pre-booked groups can also try fossil casting, gem panning, rocks and minerals and soil sorting. (For school visits please see our Education and Schools section).
The NSC often hosts special temporary exhibitions. In the past these have included exhibitions of moon rock, building materials, sculptures, geophysics, paintings and the mineral wealth of great estates. Please re-visit this site to find out when the next temporary exhibition is being staged.
Artists frequently work on this beautiful and awe inspiring site. Every September the National Stone Centre participates in the acclaimed Wirksworth Arts Festival, each year adding new temporary or permanent pieces. There are examples of stone sculpture and carving both inside and outside the Discovery Centre. Find the three stone towers designed by local artist Dennis O’Connor and built by expert wallers Gordon and Jason Wilton.
There is a designated parking area for less able visitors giving level access to the Discovery Centre and activity areas. Certain parts of the on-site trails (which follow natural contours) may not be fully accessible at all times. Motorised wheelchair users should be able to negotiate all the trails in the Trail Guide without difficulty. Toilets for less able visitors are located inside the Discovery Centre.
This site is legally protected through its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is a criminal offence to hammer for or remove any fossil, mineral or stone from the site. Due to the fragile structure and rarity of some specimens on site, the NSC operates a zero tolerance policy towards anyone damaging or removing any material from the site.
There is plenty of parking at the National Stone Centre site and coach parties are very welcome.