Denby Delf

Upper Denby, Huddersfield

Located near to the village of Upper Denby, Denby Delf is a patchwork of habitats set in a wider pastoral landscape of pasture and arable farmland. ‘Delf’ signifies a quarry, and the reserve was once a working quarry reputed to have supplied stone for the building of the spectacular Denby Dale railway viaduct, as well as Upper Denby Church.

The reserve, also known as Mossley Roughs and Denby Common, comprises around 30 acres of meadows, bilberry heathland, disused quarry workings, acid grassland, scrub and woodland. In an intimate mix of habitats on a north facing slope, the reserve has spectacular views over to Emley Moor and down the Dearne Valley.

Heathland at Denby Delf looking over to Upper Cumberworth

The habitat

Two wildflower meadows provide a colourful and showy display of plants such as hay-rattle, meadow and creeping buttercups, ladies’ smock, and zig-zag clover as well as common spotted and southern marsh orchids. The meadows are cut for hay in July and receive no artificial fertilisers or pesticides, and are rare examples of this nationally declining habitat. 

The heath on the slopes supports a small population of green hairstreak butterflies whose larvae feed on the bilberries, and other characteristic upland heathland plants such as mat grass, bell-heather and heath bedstraw can be found there.

The heath also has scattered oak and rowan trees, which are well-used as song-posts by yellowhammers and meadow pipits. We aim to keep the right balance of heathland and woodland to favour animals and plants dependant on them.

Harebell at Denby Delf

A haven for butterflies

On the north of the site are old hedgerows and thick hawthorn and blackthorn scrub, which are much loved by summer migrant warblers such as blackcaps and whitethroats. Recent cutting of sheltered glades in this area has produced ideal conditions for hundreds of butterflies such as small and green-veined whites, ringlets and meadow browns, as well as a resurgence of the lovely spring flower wood anemone.

A small steep sided clough in the middle of the site was created from an old drift mine. It is now clothed in mature oak trees with an understorey of bluebells, and provides a perfect shady habitat.

What we do at Denby Delf

We aim to provide the best conditions for the wide variety of wildlife on the reserve. 

The hay from the meadows is currently taken by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stirley Farm at Almondbury in Huddersfield, where it provides a natural and sweet feed for their native longhorn cattle over the winter. 

Careful thinning of the scrub and colonising trees provides the right balance of open heathland and woodland. The ‘edges’ in between provide important variations in light, shade and shelter which add to the variety of conditions onsite. We have installed nestboxes to attract a range of hole-nesting birds.

We welcome visitors to the site to enjoy the wildlife and spectacular views.  A footpath provides a good circular walking trail for ramblers.