The South West Peak Character Area comprises a tightly-packed mixture of landscape types which are described in the Landscape Character Assessment and Strategy: Open Moors, Moorland Hills and Ridges, Enclosed Gritstone Uplands, Densely Enclosed Gritstone Uplands, Slopes and Valleys with Woodland, Upland Pastures, Reservoir Valleys with Woodland, and Riverside Meadows.
The South West Peak contains some 5,459ha of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 4,451ha of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and 5,233ha of Specially Protected Areas (SPA). Notably the Goyt Valley and the Leek Moors SSSIs; and part of the South Pennine Moors SPA.
Habitats and species of importance
The South West Peak is home to upland heathland, blanket bog, botanically-rich rush pastures and hay meadows. Although semi-natural woodland is scare, some important concentrations remain, particularly along river valleys.
Species of importance here include lapwing, curlew and snipe; and the South West Peak boasts the only known site in the Peak District for the lesser butterfly orchid and one of two known sites in the Peak District for the Killarney fern.