The Stone to Steel area is dominated by the steep river valleys of the River Don
and Little Don Valleys, which drain the uplands of the Peak District and north to
Penistone and Thurlstone Moors. These rivers cut through the sandstone and limestone
on the border of the Dark Peak and Northern Coal Measures, and are overlooked by
the outcrops of Wharncliffe Crags and Hunshelf Bank.
The area supports many different wildlife habitats from scattered heathland to wild
meadows, evergreen plantations to fragments of ancient woodland, deep river valleys
and expansive reservoirs. These habitats are not only important for the many native
plants and animals but also create the unique visual landscape of the borders of
The upland areas support scattered heathland and moorland habitats and are bordered
by beech woodland and pine plantations, with fragments of ancient woodland surviving
in steep stream valleys.
The project area contains a number of reservoirs which were created in the Ewden
and Langsett valleys - these are now important focal points for recreation and water
sports as well as wildlife havens and bring a pleasing variation to the visual landscape.
The land-cover was originally determined by the underlying geology and soils, and
then transformed by thousands of years of ice, rain and wind. In Mesolithic times
the first human settlers started the process of adapting and altering the landscape
through harvesting, planting, mining and building, a process which continues apace
to this day.