Flora & fauna

β€˜In a world of increasing ecological fragility, there has been no more important moment to focus on the health of nature and what it means to us as human beings, and how we relate to it.’ – Lord Edward Manners.

Rainbow Trout

How they got to the Derbyshire River Wye is a story of luck and escape.

Rare or endangered discovered
within the Park:

Oncorhynchus mykiss

The Derbyshire Wye holds the only confirmed population of spring spawning, wild, freshwater Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss.

How they got to the Derbyshire River Wye is a story of luck and escape.

In the 1890s, eyed ova were imported by boat from the Baja Coastal range in California. These eggs were hatched out into Ashford Lake just north of Bakewell, where they were grown on and became adults. After 5 years, a massive flood occurred which broke the lake dam, allowing these rainbow trout to escape into the Derbyshire River Wye. By chance, the river has many of the same characteristics as the original river from which they came in California, allowing them to thrive and become successful spawners.

There were continued attempts to import Rainbow trout ova into England in the early 20th century, but these came from a slightly different Shasta strain of trout and failed. This made the wild freshwater rainbow trout in the Derbyshire River Wye a very special and unique population of fish species within England and a much admired peculiarity enjoyed by ecologists and dry-fly fishermen alike.

One of the distinguishing features of the Derbyshire Wye Rainbow trout is that they spawn in the spring, rather than in the winter, like their American counterparts. Due to the ample food available on the Derbyshire River Wye, during the summer months, they have a very low mortality rate and are very fast growing. They can live for as much as to 6-8 years and can weigh in excess of 2 kg!

Confined to the Derbyshire Wye, which reaches to only 15 miles in length from its source near Buxton to its confluence with the River Derwent, they are largely confined to its waters, reducing the threat of their colonisation of other rivers and risk to other British native fish.

Called Rainbow trout due to their distinct and beautiful silvery skin, which has purple, pink and bluish streaks down its flanks, they make for a wonderful and rare species to see within the Medieval Park and are carefully monitored and tended to by the Haddon River-keeper.


The Haddon Estate has a firm policy of catch and release on all its rivers. So no fish are killed by fishermen on its beats. Likewise, all Haddon Estate rivers are wild fish and not stock.