Otter Haven or Heaven ? Derbyshire

by Veronica

Today's day out took me to the beautiful Cheshire/ Derbyshire border in England's Peak District to an Otter Haven. It was nothing short of enchanting. A hidden gem.

The Chestnut Centre ; Otter Haven and Owl Sanctuary lies in the wooded estate of Ford Hall, Chapel-en-le-Frith. It is a secluded and beautiful refuge for otters, owls and other wildlife.

Much of this area was the home of the Bagshawe family and they had several houses in the area. Ford Hall, the ancestral home of the Bagshawe family, is situated in a low, wooded valley in the high gritstone hills of the Dark Peak. The Hall has historical significance as well as being an animal sanctuary.

The Rev. William Bagshawe, who came to be known as the Apostle of the Peak, held services in secret at Ford Hall after he had been expelled from his ministry for not conforming to the Book of Common Prayer in the 17th Century. When the last of the Ford Bagshawes died without an heir, the Hall was bought by Roger Heap who converted the estate into a safe haven for wildlife

A Giant Otter
A Giant Otter
Chestnut Centre Otter Haven
Chestnut Centre Otter Haven

The Chestnut Centre

The entrance to The Chestnut Centre interested me as soon as I arrived. I decided it must be part of a former Stately Home or Hall, just by looking at the entrance gates. They are curved and very old stone and having seen many others, I decided even before I knew about Ford Hall. This was  no ordinary house gateway. Take a look!

outside the centre
outside the centre
Derbyshire is beautiful
opposite the entrance
opposite the entrance
 
The gateposts were a telltale sign of the age of the estate.
The gateposts were a telltale sign of the age of the estate.

Even better just after the entrance on the right, I spotted a very old Quaker burial ground dating from the 1660's. I was fascinated by this and am determined to know more about the background to it.

Burial ground post
Burial ground post
Burial stone in Quaker ground
Burial stone in Quaker ground

The walk

A beautiful walk led us down to the Wildlife Haven. The Peaks were stunning today and the air was clean and fresh.

A small Copse
A small Copse
Picnic areas
Picnic areas
The Peak above the Ford Hall Estate
The Peak above the Ford Hall Estate

The Sanctuary

The walk down to The Sanctuary was through a secure gate to protect the animal wildlife. The first thing we encountered were some owls  and otters. The animals are in a protected woodland habitat and are fed a proper diet too at various times in the day.

the otter habitat in the haven/sanctuary
the otter habitat in the haven/sanctuary
Giant Otter
Giant Otter
Asian Otter
Asian Otter
sunbathing Giant Otter
sunbathing Giant Otter

Badger Sett

A Badger Sett was in the Otter area. The burrows were clearly evident.

Badger burrows
Badger burrows
More burrows around the Sett
More burrows around the Sett

Owl Sanctaury

So many different types of owls there were ;  Varieties of which I had never heard. One variety was particularly fascinating. It would not co-operate for the camera but this type of owl is one which lives underground in burrows. It inhabits abandoned burrows and doesn't dig. The owl itself is very small, the smallest owl I ever saw

 

Grey Owl
Grey Owl
TIny owl
TIny owl

It amused us to see a Giant Skunk cabbage growing by the brook. It is sometimes called a Skunk Lantern because of the yellow lantern shape on it. It supposedly gives off a bad smell if touched. The yellow "lantern" can be seen at the back.

Giant Skunk Cabbage
Giant Skunk Cabbage

Pet Cemetry in the woods

There is a rather endearing pet cemetery where the family at Ford Hall used to bury their pets and leave a grave stone as a marker.

Pet gravestone
Pet gravestone
Pet gravestone
Pet gravestone

It is a North of England Spring of course,  so what else but everywhere is covered in beautiful wild bluebells.

Wild bluebells in the woods
Wild bluebells in the woods

There is seating everywhere especially quirky style like these Fly Algeric toadstools

Fly Algeric Stools
Fly Algeric Stools

All in all this was a lovely half day out. The place is isolated, peaceful, enchanting and educational.

I am so blessed to have such beauty within easy drive from my house, this being 30 minutes by car.

I loved it there today.

Updated: 05/17/2016, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 07/19/2016

Indeed and I think the fact that this one is mainly specific to unusual creatures like otter and owls makes it rather more interesting. The toadstools were decorative and I would think best used by children. I'd probably have difficulties getting up again !

As you know, I love a day out and this was one with a difference.

blackspanielgallery on 07/18/2016

Having wildlife sanctuaries is important.
I like the toadstools, but are they comfortable? Regardlrss, they are decorative.

Veronica on 07/15/2016

It is a lovely half day visit I would think. The scenery is stunning and the air crisp . The animals are beautifully cared for in a very natural environment which is what I like to see.

frankbeswick on 07/15/2016

Sounds like a good day out for children.

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