Site History


 This disused limestone quarry is owned by Longcliffe Quarries.  

The site has not been worked since the early 90’s which means that nature has had plenty of time to develop. For a site of just short of 5 hectares it packs in a good mix of habitats.

As you would expect there are still areas of bare ground which provide an ideal place for insects to sunbathe. Surrounding these is beautiful flower rich short limestone grassland whilst at the fringes of the quarry is taller grass and woodland. There is even a disused dew pond which we hope to restore in time.

The quarry is particularly of interest because of the number of diversity of butterflies which occur here. Volunteers from Butterfly Conservation Trust have been walking a weekly transect at Hoe Grange for a few years and their results are fantastic, they have recorded a total of 29 different species of butterfly.

We are working closely with Butterfly Conservation Trust to ensure that the site is managed in the best way as a future haven for butterflies.

With Your Help, We are Making The World a Better Place

“A three minute film about the delights of East Midlands Butterfly Conservation’s Hoe Grange Quarry Reserve and its special butterflies, wildlife and plants.”


Most of the 4.75 Hectare site comprises a former limestone quarry which was worked until the early 90’s. There are records of quarrying being underway during 1902, when a cavern was discovered and a large number of prehistoric animal bones were found, including lion, elephant, bison, hyena, fallow deer and red deer. It is thought that the hyenas had a den inside a sink hole where they took they prey before eating it.



The quarry was linked to the nearby High Peak Trail in 1909 by means of a railway siding whereby limestone was taken by rail to other parts of the UK. Evidence of this remains on site today where there are 3 old railway wagons towards the south end of the site where the rail track used to be located. The rail link to the High Peak Trail was removed around 1950 and afterwards the limestone was transported by road. Quarrying activities finished in the 1970’s after which the site was left for wildlife and plants to take over as the former railway line behind the site provided an ideal route for the invading wildlife to colonise the area.

Old Railway Sheds 2021
Old Plant and Equipment in 2011

Latterly the site was used for the storage of old plant and equipment but following a site visit by Pat and myself back in 2010 and following discussions with the Warden Ray Walker, Longcliffe Quarries decided to relinquish their quarrying rights in 2015 and subsequently Hoe Grange Quarry become Derbyshire’s first Butterfly NR. The site is now a joint venture between the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation East Midlands and the site is being monitored by means of a butterfly transect by members of Butterfly Conservation East Midlands each week between the 1st of April to the 30th of September each year, with the first transect walked back in 2015.. The site is also regularly patrolled by the Warden Ray Walker who ensures that no anti social activities take place including no dogs being allowed on site. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of the Directors and Staff of Longcliffe Quarries everyone is delighted to be part of this special arrangement and indeed in 2019 Longcliffe Quarries were winners of the ‘Best Community Engagement Project’ at the prestigious Institute of Quarrying awards ceremony.

Recent visitors to the site include the BBC1 Countryfile team back in 2018 when they featured the changing lifestyle of the rare Wall Brown butterfly which is resident at the site. Then in 2020 the former High Sherriff of Derbyshire, Tony Walker, visited Hoe Grange Quarry and he was very impressed with both the habitat and also the conservation work that has been carried out in order to both attract wildlife and keep it on site as well. The first Open Day was organised in the summer of 2017 and since then there have been other Open Days in both 2018 and 2019 and we have organised the next one on the 3rd of July 2022 (see details on our home page).

railway sliding

Image to the left: Viv Russell, Ellie off the Countryfile team, Ken Orpe 

Image to the right:  Andy Littler with the Countryfile Production team in May 2018

Pat Orpe & Sarah Teale of BBC1 East Midlands Today - Open Day in 2017
Andy Littler + Countryfile Production Team - May 2018

Image to the left: Pat Orpe & Sarah Teale of BBC1 East Midlands Today – Open Day in 2017