Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group
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About Us

Welcome to Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group we cover the whole of Derbyshire including part of the Peak District National Park.

Our group aims to promote the study and conservation of the amphibians and reptiles of Derbyshire and their habitats. We achieve this by:

  • raising awareness of the ecology and conservation needs of Derbyshire's amphibians and reptiles
  • undertaking practical conservation projects
  • running approximately 20 Toads on Road patrols at locations across the county every spring during the toad migration season
  • carrying out regular reptile surveys and amphibian surveys
  • organising amphibian and reptile training sessions for members and the public
  • providing advice and information and answering queries for the public
  • developing recording, monitoring and research intitatives
  • providing a forum for those interested in amphibians and reptiles
  • working in partnership with other relevant organisations

We hope our website will help you to find the information you are looking for, but if you still have a query, please contact us and we will do our best to help.

Derbyshire ARG always welcome new members to the group, please email us on to join. There is a membership subscription of £5 per year, though that is reviewed at every AGM..

We are very grateful for any records of amphibians and reptiles in your local area that you can pass to us as it helps in mapping the distribution of species and protecting their known habitats. Either contact us directly or use the Record a sighting tab on this website.

The group is run by a committee which is elected at the AGM each year. For 2024 - 2025 the committee elected at the AGM on 13th January 2024 are:

Chair - Kelvin Lawrence, Vice Chair - Christian Murray-Leslie, Secretary - Chris Monk, Treasurer - Jayne Thompson
Committee members - Garry Dorrell, Richard Fenn Griffin, Chris Hallam, James Longley, Sheila Stubbs and Ben Wyke

Kelvin Lawrence is also the Derbyshire Toad Crossings Co-ordinator for the Group & for Froglife

See a previous newsletters here







Derbyshire ARG data policy





Rewilding success at British Mountaineering Council owned Horseshoe Quarry

Posted on Saturday 15th June, 2024

After Derbyshire ARG did surveys this year at Horseshoe Quarry the BMC have published the attached article

Horseshoe Quarry, also known as Furness Quarry, is a large, disused limestone quarry in Stoney Middleton, Peak District with a long history of climbing and owned by the BMC since 2005. Almost three decades on, rewilding at the site has already been fantastically successful, with hundreds of newts and toad tadpoles spotted in the pond this spring.

20240502 Horseshoe Quarry pond   Horseshoe Quarry pond (left)    Toad tadpoles just hatched in 2024 (right)  20240502 Toad tadpoles in pond

A short history of Horseshoe Quarry

Although climbers snuck in anyway, there was originally no CROW access to Horseshoe Quarry. So, in 2005 the BMC purchased an 8.5ha area of the site to secure access to walkers, climbers and cavers in perpetuity. Alongside this, a local management group was created to care for the area and promote local botanical and ecological interests, because the land lies within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Over the years there has been a great deal of rewilding work at Horseshoe Quarry including footpath improvement, the creation of a wildlife pond, ecological surveys, woodland management and control of invasive species. So much so that this former quarry has become a highly reputable recreational and environmental asset. 

In 2007 the Vision Project funded the creation of a wildlife pond to the south of the quarry floor, which is now teaming with wildlife, as Chris Monk, secretary of the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (ARG) discovered this spring. 

Rewilding: latest update

Chris Monk, secretary of the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group shares the good news.

What were the amphibian and reptile counts like before this restoration work?
Initially there was no pond in the quarry but a small area of shallow water that collected on the quarry floor and was used by amphibians. However these pools dried up in summer most years so the amphibian tadpoles would die. I was asked By the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) staff in May 2006 to survey the quarry and other ponds in the area for their Vision Project. This revealed just over 30 smooth newts, some frogspawn and toad spawn strings in the shallow pools.

How has the site improved for amphibians and reptiles?
The PDNPA asked Henry Folkard [award-winning BMC Peak District volunteer and tireless access campaigner] whether they could include the quarry in their new Proliferating Ponds in the Peak funding bid to have a completely new pond constructed. The funding bid was successful and work to build the pond started in spring 2007. It was built close to the pools on the quarry floor so that the amphibians could easily find it and a survey in 2008 found smooth newts in the new pond with none in the shallow pools.

Over the years the amphibian population based around the pond has grown as there is now no risk of summer desiccation of the tadpoles. Also the pond has been colonised by great crested newts, so the pond is now used by all four amphibian species that are found across the White Peak.

What will you do with the survey information you collected?
The survey results are passed to the BMC and PDNPA, so that such a good amphibian population, especially with the presence of the legally protected great crested newt, is on record and is taken into account when considering management of the site.

How can BMC members and climbers using Horseshoe Quarry help maintain this improvement in wildlife?
By taking care when at the site to not disturb the boulders and rock piles in the old quarry as that could result in hiding amphibians being crushed or buried. Also by not introducing any plants or animals into the pond. Thank you. 

Anything else to mention?
Little is known about reptiles in the area - a single grass snake was seen in the quarry in 2009 by Henry Folkard, but they range quite widely so it was probably just assessing the location. Slow-worms and common lizards could be present in or near the quarry but they are often difficult to spot. If anyone sees a reptile then please report it to the BMC and the PDNPA ecologists.  

The initial pond work was funded by Derbyshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme (DALGS), which also funded the woodland walkway and link to the PROW down the Dale to the east. The recent pond renovation was funded via FiPL (Farming in Protected Landscapes).

The May 2024 survey of the pond by the Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group counted 241 smooth newts, 14 great crested newts and thousands of toad tadpoles. The disused quarry is obviously an ideal location for amphibians with a good pond for breeding and excellent terrestrial habitat with its loose rock piles providing a mass of resting and hibernating locations for them.



2023 Surveys and Events

Posted on Friday 22nd September, 2023

The Group's outdoor programme has now finished for this year, though we are attending one more indoor event in November and hope to set up an indoor members meeting & AGM in January or February..

The pond surveys carried out in the Peak District in the north of the county and in the National Forest in the south of the county were sucessful in involving a large number of members. They resulted in updated and new records of all 5 species of amphibians native to the county (common frog, common toad, smooth newt, palmate newt and great crested newt).The findings were reported to the landowners, Peak District National Park Authority, farmers and detailed site survey reports were done for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the National Forest Company, the Woodland Trust and the Rosliston Forestry Centre (run by South Derbyshire District Council and Forestry England).

Members and local residents/volunteers participated in the toad crossing patrols at many sites across the county and adder emergence surveys were carried out in the Peak District as happens every year.

Reptile surveys were carried out at our two cover object survey sites at Hassop and at Linacre with sightings of common lizard, slow-worm and grass snake. Initially this year looked as though it would continue the run of cancellations due to bad weather for the Stanage visual surveys at North Lees after a run of 5 cancellations starting last year and again this spring & early summer.  Eventually in August & early September we had better luck and actually managed to get out, survey and find lots of common lizards, including the first records from one of the moorland sites. We hope to get SSSI permissions for installing some cover object arrays next year in areas away from public pressure in the hope of finding some of the elusive snakes reported up there and for evidence of slow-worms. Meetings and advice were given to the National Trust about surveys and habitat works that could be undertaken on one of their sites that has an important grass snake population.

Our stall and display were taken to two public events this year, we were invited to the Friends of Pleasley Pit's Wildlife Day at the Pleasley Pit Country Park in May and in mid September we again attended the annual Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle Country Park, The latter managed to avoid the rain, which turned up just after it closed on the second day and we spoke to numerous people about our native reptiles and amphibians and took many records of casual sightings people had made in their garden or out in the countryside.

20230917 115325

Our stand at the Woodland Festival

Nature and Species Recovery in Derbyshire

Posted on Sunday 12th February, 2023

Derbyshire ARG was invited to a couple of meetings in January & February dealing with those issues

Firstly there was a seminar organised by Natural England to seek information on possible species recovery or re-introduction in the county for their upcoming grant scheme for projects.

Unfortunately there are no amphibian or reptile species that could be re-introduced into the county as the geology and weather means that the county is not suitable for any of the native species that are not already present (Smooth snake, Sand Lizard, Natterjack Toad or Pool Frog). Although we would like to see species recovery particularly to extend the adder population in the Peak District there is not enough information on how to successfully carry this out at present and certainly not within the short timescale for the grant scheme.

Last Friday 10th February the ARG Chair and Secretary attended the first Bolsover Local Nature Recovery Summit meeting at the Bolsover District Council Offices. The Council and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust had produced an Action Plan for Nature Recovery across the District. It was attended by a large number of representatives of wildlife groups, parish councils and community groups who also took part in workshop sessions across 3 themes.

Our suggestions of following up on the several registered toad crossings across the District as we do not know of any volunteer groups covering the crossings or of other unregistered sites. We also supported the creation and survey of more ponds across the District and suggested we hoped to re-establish a grass snake egg laying heap at one site where a former wildlife group had built them in the past and they were used by the snakes.

Linacre reservoirs reptile survey

Posted on Friday 16th September, 2022

At the request of Severn-Trent Water's ranger in March 2022 we gave a presentation on reptile surveying to his volunteer party As occasional sightings of grass snakes have been made around the reservoirs we laid out a mixture of cover objects. In early September we organised a reptile survey field trip to check on the survey cover objects and 4 grass snakes were found at two locations. It is planned to continue the survey next year in spring 2023.

20220910 Large adult grass snake

Large adult grass snake with it's head down a hole

20220910 Habitat pilejpg

Habitat pile created by S-T Water ranger & his volunteers cutting back dense stands of Rosebay willowherb and stacking the arisings. These will be good for grass snakes.

Results of our 2022 Peak District & north Derbyshire pond surveys

Posted on Friday 16th September, 2022

Thank you to the members who helped with
these surveys this spring. 16 members helped
out on one or more surveys and in total 67 ponds
were surveyed, mostly by torchlight, 4 by bottle
trapping and at 2 water samples were taken for
testing for great crested newts by environmental
DNA as part of the Freshwater Habitats Trust’s
PondNet survey now in its 8th year. The results
from the eDNA are not yet available but for the
other 65 ponds great crested newts were found
in 36 ponds.

2022 03 08 walled concrete dewpond

Walled concrete dewpond, torch light survey showed great crested and smooth newts present


20220514 GCN eDNA water sampling

Water sampling for Freshwater Habitats Trust's PondNet GCN eDNA project




Show Past Events

Reptile Surveys

Fri 12th April, 2024 - Sat 5th October, 2024

We will be completing  a series of reptile surveys across the summer and early autumn of 2024, open to anybody and no knowledge of reptile surveys is needed.

We have refugia (cover object) surveys out at Hassop near Bakewell, Linacre Reservoirs near Chesterfield and Hardwick Hall near Doe Lea. Hassop has been running for 10 years and is monitoring slow-worms and common lizard. We were asked to help set up refugia surveys at Linacre by Severn Trent Water's Ranger where we have monitored grass snakes and checked on common lizard by visual surveys at a separate location on the site. At  Hardwick we have assisted the National Trust Rangers in setting up a refugia survey this year to help assess the grass snake population.

In addition we are carrying out visual transect surveys at the Peak District National Park Authority's North Lees Estate to determine the status of Common Lizard across this large estate. There is a mixture of habitats there including the gritstone edges and dry stone walls, dwarf shrub heath, large areas of bracken domination, acid grassland fields, woodland plantations and some wetland and flushes.

Stanage surveys are planned for 27th July, 9th August, 7th & 14th September and 5th October

Hardwick Hall surveys are planned for 23rd August, 21st September and 4th October

Linacre surveys are planned for 12th July, 30th August and 27th September

Hassop surveys are planned for 20th July, 30th August  and 28th September

Book a place on the surveys by emailing the Group at

Hardwick grass snake

Grass snake at Hardwick June 2024

DaNES autumn show

Sat 9th November, 2024 - Sat 9th November, 2024

We will be attending again this year for the DaNES Insect Show 2024 at the Brackenhurst Campus of Nottingham Trent University. A large number of natural history & environment conservation societies and organisations have displays at the event and there will be a programme of talks. This is open to the public or anyone with an interest in biodiversity.

Derbyshire ARG will probably be joined by Notts ARG for a joint herpetological stand.


Further details nearer the date.

National Forest pond walk

Sun 13th April, 2025 - Sun 13th April, 2025

This year's pond and amphibian event for the public, organised in conjunction with Groundwork will be at the National Forest's Feanedock Wood at Moira.

Further details nearer the time

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For Toad Crossings and to contact our Derbyshire Toad Crossings Co-ordinator please email

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