Dovedale Stepping Stones

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It sounds incredible but every year, each of us uses five tonnes of stone which finds its way into an enormous number of products. The fascinating story of how we all use stone from morning to night is told at the National Stone Centre in Wirksworth, on land acquired from Tarmac by Derbyshire County Council on behalf of the National Stone Centre.

Derbyshire is the largest quarrying area in the country, and in the 1990s, it produced twenty million tonnes of stone a year. This makes it an excellent site for the National Stone Centre, which is an educational charity supported by over eighty public, industrial and academic organisations.

Officially opened in October 1990, on the site of six disused quarries, the National Stone Centre tells the story of stone, in geological history and industrial history. The exhibition at the visitor centre takes you on a journey through time, from the creation of the Earth over four billion years ago to the present day. It shows how stone has been used through the ages for building: the different uses it has been put to as a result of cultural changes and the advancement of technology. From sugar to toothpaste and tyres to cosmetics the amazing list of the uses of stone seems endless.

Outside the visitor centre, the  quarry trail takes you back over thee hundred million years. Viewpoint panels along the trail indicate where you are: the bottom of a lagoon, the side of a reef, or by the tropical Derbyshire coastline! There are plenty of remains of animal life to be seen, with shellfish embedded in the rocks and for the observant shark's teeth. Evidence of lead-miners pick marks can be found. In more modern times the site has been used for quarrying, before being abandoned in the mid 1960s after providing stone for the M1 motorway.

The Millennium Wall at the National Stone Centre was built by members of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain, over a weekend, in 2000. Wallers both professional and amateur travelled from all parts of the country to participate. There was even one who travelled over 1.100 miles from Orkney, just to act as a helper! On completion of the wall a short blessing was given and Her Grace, the Duchess of Devonshire, Patron of the Dry Stone Walling Association and the National Stone Centre, then walked the wall and chatted with all who had taken part. 

The wall is a permanent exhibition composed of eighteen sections of wall, each six metres in length, and forms the most extensive known collection of dry stone walls in any one place. All the sections were constructed using local stone that had to be transported to the National Stone Centre from all parts of the country prior to the event. Apart from demonstrating the skills and individual styles of the wall builders, the walls reflect the many different types of stone used in the process.

The National Stone Centre, Porter Lane, Middleton by Wirksworth, Derbyshire, DE4 4LS, is open all year round.


10a.m. - 4p.m. Winter Months

10a.m. - 5p.m. Summer Months

Open seven days a week all year (closed Christmas Day)

Tel No. 01629 824833





Gem panning
Story of Stone exhibition
Fossil rubbing
General site trails

Fossil casting
Guided site trails
Visit to large operational quarry

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Open all year except Christmas Day. From 10am - 4pm Winter Months and 10am - 5pm Summer Months. Further information of activities lower down the page.  Tel No. 01629 824833.


A permanent exhibition composed of eighteen sections of wall, each six metres in length, and forms the most extensive known collection of dry stone walls in any one place.


The National Stone Centre continues to hold dry stone related structure courses. Contact the centre for further information.


The Sculptor-in-Residence at the National Stone Centre, offers Stone Carving Courses at the centre throughout the year.



By Car - At the eastern end of the B5035, just off the B5036 Wirksworth to Cromford road.

By Bus - regular services from Derby, Matlock, Bakewell, Ashbourne.

By Train - to Cromford or Matlock Bath Station.

By Trail - situated just off the High Peak Trail, to the west of Black Rocks.

Special Parking - ready access to Discovery Building and activity area. Certain parts of the on-site and off-site trails (which follow natural contours) may not be fully accessible at all times.



Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


The site is expanding to include many other features of interest to the local person and visitor alike. Why not bookmark this site for future reference.

1.  To return to the main site click the link below.

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2.  To return to the contents page of the main website click the link below.

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A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby


During the first few days of every month an illustrated Newsletter will be posted to this website. This will enable you to preview what the plans are for the future, what you might have missed and provide you with some dates for your diary. Click to view the latest.   




The following are a selection of  features on this website. All the places of interest and walks are within a short distance of the National Stone Centre.


Carsington & Hopton Feature

Carsington & Hopton Walk

Cromford Canal

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

High Peak Junction

High Peak Trail

Middleton Top

Peak District Mining Museum

Steeple Grange Light Railway

Wirksworth Feature

Wirksworth Heritage Centre

Wirksworth Walk


All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.