Meadow and moorland: summer wildlife in the Dark Peak

Bilberry bumblebee on bilberry plant

From the hardy plants of the upland moors to the delicate wildflowers of the meadows, the Dark Peak is alive in summer with vivid sights, sounds and colours. Watch out for the elusive bilberry bumblebee, and listen for the calls of the nesting birds on the moors.

Wildflowers of the Vale of Edale

On your way to Jacob's Ladder through Upper Booth in the Edale Valley, there are many wildflowers to be found and in turn a wide variety of butterflies and bees attracted by them. Hay meadows have been cultivated across the Dark Peak in an effort to encourage this diverse insect life.

One way grassland is turned into hay meadows once again is by introducing semi-parasitic wildflowers such as Eyebright and Yellow Rattle. These flowers attach themselves to the roots of grasses and take their nutrients. The grass thins out, making more room for wildflowers. Eyebright is distinguished by its small white flowers with streaks of purple and yellow patches. Yellow rattle has bright petals that enclose seeds which ‘rattle’ as you brush past them.

Eyebright
Small white wildflower

Another wildflower that you are likely to see is bird’s-foot-trefoil, so called because its seed head looks like a three-toed bird's foot. It's also known as 'bacon and eggs'  because of its colour . Bird's-foot trefoil is from the pea family and its red buds and yellow flowers are loved by butterflies as it flowers between June and September.

Heather and more on the uplands

Heather is perhaps the most common summer sight on the moors. Bell heather and cross-leaved heather flower between July and September. Heathers are especially important for bees.

Flowering heather attracts bees and other insects
Flowering heather against sky