Spring in Haddon Medieval Park

Spring: a return to colour

Spring is such a joyous time in the countryside, a return to sunshine and lighter days, with leaves once more gracing the trees and new life blooming. It’s wonderful to watch the tiny daily changes throughout the season in the organic parkland of Haddon Hall’s Medieval Park, where nature is left to her own perfect devices.

The first delicate snowdrops in the woods and on the riverbanks gave us a wonderful display in January and February, until they were replaced just as triumphantly with the brightest daffodils in March. Blossoms appeared on the fruit trees and hawthorns in April, and now bluebells, forget-me-nots and wood squills are scattering their blue amid the grasses.

Spring feels like the season when the natural world shakes off the winter greys and embraces colour again, and we have certainly seen plenty of colour here!

River life

The crystal-clear Derbyshire River Wye meanders its way lazily through the heart of the parkland. Spring is a time when it has just as much life flying above it as swimming within it.

The waters are now being skimmed by swallows, house martins, dippers and kingfishers, and swarming on the surface are clouds of newly-emerging mayflies. Mayfly nymphs live only in clean, unpolluted rivers, and we are very proud that the Derbyshire River Wye is one of the top five cleanest rivers in England.

The Medieval Park is home to the Southern Iron Blue, one of the two mayfly species identified as being the most threatened in the UK and requiring conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

The river is also home to the UK’s only population of wild, Spring-spawning rainbow trout, who are just as happy as we are to see so many mayflies!

To find out more about the wildlife in and around the river, join us for a Wildlife Walk on 9 July, led by renowned author and naturalist Christine Gregory.


Spring sees a flurry of activity with the birds that make the Medieval Park their home. A recent survey found 58 different species here, including 12 on the Conservation Red List and 11 on the Amber List.

Many are migratory species that have made long journeys to spend their summers with us. Notable Spring arrivals include the House Martins and Swallows which nest in the eaves of the Hall and swoop over the meadows and river banks of the Park catching flies. The woodland pastures have seen and heard the return of Whitethroats, Pied Flycatchers and Blackcaps, also known as ‘Northern Nightingales’ for their wonderful fluting song.

To find out more about the Bird Life of the Medieval Park, join us for a Wildlife Walk with international bird expert Dr Geoff Mawson on 17 July!

New arrivals in the Longhorn herd

The first of the year’s calves have now been born to our herd of beautiful free-ranging English Longhorn cattle and they’re enjoying their huge new playground.

English Longhorns are a native breed dating back to the 1700s, first bred by an agricultural revolutionist aptly named Robert Bakewell (1725-1795). With the introduction of the Shorthorn in the 1800s and other more commercial meat and milk breeds, their population declined rapidly, becoming rare by the 1960s.

It’s a breed that is perfect for Haddon Medieval Park because they relish being outside all year round and work together as a herd with a strong matriarch. Our cows are allowed to live out their natural lives with us, dying only of old age.

Explore Haddon Medieval Park

This Summer and Autumn we are delighted to be able to offer a series of Wildlife Walks and Photography Workshops within Haddon Medieval Park, as well as our regular programme of Parkland Walks.

These events give you the chance to explore the normally private spaces of Haddon Medieval Park and discover more about its rich history and its wildlife, as well as our future plans for the protection and regeneration of this ancient landscape as we return it to its original 14th Century form.

Sat 9 July – River Life Walk led by Christine Gregory
Sun 17 July – Birds Walk led by Dr Geoff Mawson OBE
Sat 23 July – Butterflies Walk led by Steve Orridge
Wed 27 July – Photography Workshop
Thu 4 August – Medieval Parkland Walk
Sat 13 August – Medieval Parkland Walk
Sat 20 August – Butterflies Walk led by Steve Orridge
Sat 10 September – Medieval Parkland Walk
Sat 17 September – Medieval Parkland Walk
Sat 1 October – Photography Workshop
Sat 8 October – Trees Walk led by Ruth Ross
Sat 22 October – Medieval Parkland Walk
Sat 29 October – Medieval Parkland Walk