Twywell Hills and Dales

Region: Midlands

Twywell Hills and Dales Country Park is much-loved and well used by the local community in East Northamptonshire. Its open fields and hilly landscape make the site popular amongst dog walkers, ramblers and people looking to escape the busy towns.

The Present and the Future

The Land Trust was transferred the management of the site acquired from East Northants Council, (now North Northants Council NNC) in 2019. NNC will be investing capital funding to make a number of improvements to the area.

Throughout the initial stages of the handover, the Land Trust will work in partnership with ENC to develop the Friends of Twywell Hills and Dales group, which will ensure any improvements meet the needs of local residents and visitors to the site.

Part of Twywell Hills and Dales is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for botany but with an excellent invertebrate fauna which is replicated over more of the site. The site is also recognised as one of best place for butterflies in Northamptonshire. However, these elements of the site were in poor condition and the extensive grassland restoration project lead by the Land Trust has removed significant areas of scrub and is seeing large areas of grassland recovering to support the plants and butterflies, as well as making it better to walk around.

Butterfly Information by Andy Wyldes

Thirty two species of butterfly have been recorded on the site in the last ten years, making it one of the best places to see them in the county.

Skippers: Large, Small, Essex, Dingy, Grizzled.

Whites and Yellows: Large, Small, Green-veined Whites, Orange tip, Clouded Yellow, Wood White, and Brimstone.

Browns, Fritillaries, Admirals, Tortoiseshells: Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Silver-washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Purple Emperor, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma.

Coppers, Hairstreaks and Blues: Small Copper, Green Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Holly Blue, Brown Argus, Common Blue

The eastern part of the reserve comprises of woodland and a deep gullet of steep banks exposed by the extraction of limestone. Across from the car park is the area known as the Whitestones, which is formed by limestone spoil. This predominately grassland area with a mixture of scrub and flower rich hollows, is an excellent area for Grizzled and Dingy skippers, Green Hairstreaks, Small Coppers and Small Heaths in the Spring. Followed by large numbers of Marbled Whites, plus Common blues, Brown Argus, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, and the Golden skippers in late June & July. Peacocks, Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals, and in some years Clouded Yellows, can be seen feeding from a variety of plants, Bramble flowers, Knapweed and Scabious being amongst the favourites. A small yellow widespread flower, Bird’s-foot trefoil, known locally as “eggs & bacon”, is also the caterpillar food plant for three of the butterfly species here, The Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Common blue.

The Woodland Plantation is part of the wider Twywell Hills & Dales complex of habitats. Many of the butterflies found in the more open and grassland areas at Twywell can also be found in and around the Woodland area.

The Gullet & Woodland is worth visiting to find similar species, plus in the last couple of years, with the onset of climate change, the range of butterflies in the Woodland Plantation has been enhanced with two of our most colourful and charismatic butterflies, the Purple Emperor, and the Silver-washed Fritillary. Last year also saw the arrival of the Dark Green Fritillary to the grassland areas of the Whitestones.

Twywell Hills and Dales Contact

The site contact for our Twywell Hills and Dales space is Friends of Twywell Hills and Dales Nature Reserve who can be found on Facebook at

This space is managed by the Land Trust.

Visitor Information

Opening Hours

24-hour access is available, however the car park will be open from dawn to dusk.

Car Parking

There is free parking at the site. Car park open dawn until dusk.


Unfortunately there are no public toilets on site however there are a number of pubs in the surrounding villages such as Twywell, Cranford, Woodford and Barton Seagrave.
(click here to find the nearest public toilets)


Regularly the Barista Bus is found on site near the car park serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and cake as well as treats for our doggy friends. For confirmation of opening times check out their Facebook page - The Old Friar at Twywell is also located to the rear of the site.


There is a large open space which is accessible for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs, but there are some areas which are not suitable.


Paths are unsurfaced and range in condition from good to challenging in places.


Well behaved dogs are welcome on site. During parts of the year cattle graze on site. While 2/3 areas are not grazed on, clear red signage is placed at the entrances to the areas where cattle are. Please be respectful and keep your dog under close control when in these areas.

Things to do

A variety of walking routes are available, which vary in degree of difficulty. There are picnic benches close to the car park and plenty of grassed space for family fun.

Conservation, Wildlife, Flora, Fauna

This site is particularly interesting for butterflies and species such as Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue can often be seen. Botany is excellent on site and some areas are fenced off to protect the wildflowers in areas of Specific Scientific Interest.

Other nearby attractions

The Nene Valley, Stanwick Lakes, Thrapston (Historic Market Town).

Other Links

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Twywell Hills and Dales, Twywell, Kettering, East Northamptonshire, NN14 3AL

Site size: 52 hectares


There are currently no events relating to this space.

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The site was used as an ironstone quarry from 1920-1948. As quarrying developed through these years, machinery was brought in and a railway line was laid to carry the stone up to Islip furnaces. The affects from this process can be seen in ridges of the gullet area of the site.

This area is now designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its rich wildlife. It provides a home for great crested newts, badgers, rare butterflies, dragonflies and beetles. Its flora is also of particular interest and a range of wildflowers can be found across the hills and dales.


The Land Trust was transferred the management of the site from East Northamptonshire Council (ENC), who will be investing capital funding to make a number of improvements to the area.

The Land Trust will work in partnership with ENC to develop the Friends of Twywell Hills and Dales group, which will ensure any improvements meet the needs of local residents and visitors to the site.

Land Trust Contact

To contact the Land Trust about this site or how we could help manage your space please email our Estates Manager Michaella Hulley .

To enquire about holding an event on a Land Trust site, please click here.

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