Shining Cliff Woods lie on the east facing slopes above the River Derwent, to the north of Belper. Grith Pioneers bought this area of woodland, from a timber merchant, in the 1930’s, in order to provide an opportunity for unemployed men to join a community in the woods. They aimed to be self sufficient and the men learned many skills, such as wood working, as well as growing food and building their accommodation.
The woods were designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by English Nature (now Natural England) in the 1980’s due to their unspoiled state and diversity of flora and fauna. The trees include both sessile and pedunculate oak, birch, hazel, broad leaved lime, yew, rowan, ash, holly and alder. There are also bilberry, wild honeysuckle, woodruff, bluebells, and many uncommon ferns, sedges, mosses and liverworts. Animal species living in the woods include hairy wood ants, foxes, badgers, rabbits, bats and many birds and insects.
Grith Pioneers are managing the woods to a plan agreed with Natural England. This mainly involves the steady removal of invasive, non-native species (sycamore, rhodedendron etc) which is mainly done over winter to minimize disturbance to wildlife. Occasionally seed, such as acorn and sweet chestnut, are collected and grown on to replant here or in neighbouring woodland.
We are happy for people to visit our wood, if you keep to the public rights of way, as shown on the Ordnance Survey map of the area, and keep dogs under control, to avoid disturbing ground nesting birds or the woodland floor. Any activity, other than the lawful use of public rights of way, requires prior permission from Grith Pioneers. Contact.