Corporate report

Cheshire's National Nature Reserves

Published 2 September 2014

Applies to England

Rostherne Mere

Rostherne is the largest of the Cheshire meres and also the deepest, with the original basin having been deepened by salt subsidence.

Main habitats: open water, woodland

Features of interest

Rostherne Mere is primarily of importance for its wintering wildfowl populations, particularly pochard. Mallard, teal, pintail and shoveler are also regular visitors and in cold weather ruddy duck, gadwall and goosander often visit the site. The surrounding reed beds support a large breeding population of reed warblers and bittern is a regular visitor during the winter months. Birds of the surrounding woods include all three native woodpecker species together with tawny owl, sparrowhawk and kestrel. Scrub areas are home to reed bunting, willow warblers and whitethroat.

After being absent for many years, otter have returned to the area. The reserve supports a population of harvest mice which are uncommon in Cheshire.

The reserve supports a number of butterfly species, most notably white-letter hairstreak, purple hairstreak and common blue.

Rostherne Mere is an extremely important site for freshwater research and has been used by many local universities for several decades.


We encourage the use of sustainable transport whenever possible. The reserve is 3 miles from Knutsford, close to Tatton Park.

Rostherne is on regional route 70 (Cheshire Cycleway) of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

The nearest train station is Ashley.

Bus services run along the A556, stopping at Bucklow Hill (a mile from the NNR). See the Traveline website for details.

A public footpath crosses a portion of the western boundary of the NNR.

A circular path leads around the southern part of the reserve, linking back to the car park across Tatton estate land.

The reserve can also be visited via the A.W Boyd bird observatory. Information on access and permits can be found on the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society website, who manage the observatory.


Telephone: 0300 060 6000

Wybunbury Moss

Wybunbury Moss NNR is situated in south Cheshire, at the centre of the ‘Meres and Mosses’ Natural Area, where it forms part of a series of peat bogs or ‘Mosses’.

Main habitats: peatland

Features of interest

Ice movement and erosion in the last Ice Age scraped a series of depressions in the landscape. Subsequent subsidence of the rocks underlying the peat-filled basin has left a raft of peat floating on an underground lake, one of only 3 known examples in the UK known to have formed in this way.

The peat raft is carpeted in sphagnum moss, along with cotton sedge, cranberry, bog rosemary, white-beaked sedge and the insect-eating sundew.

The Moss is also important for its invertebrate populations for which it is one of the most notable sites in Cheshire. A huge species list includes 2 rare spiders and a leaf beetle - Cryptocephalus decemmaculatus - which is not found anywhere else in England.

The peat raft is surrounded by reed swamp, woodland and meadows where marsh violet and heath-spotted orchid can be found.

See the site visitor leaflet for more details.


You can’t access the central part of the Moss which is very dangerous due to soft, unstable peat. There are, however, public rights of way which circle the reserve and a concessionary path which crosses part of the peat body.


The reserve is located 4 miles south of Crewe, near to the village of Wybunbury.

The nearest train stations are in Nantwich and Crewe.

Bus services connect Wybunbury with Nantwich and Crewe. See the Traveline North West website for details.

Access to the reserve is via minor roads from the M6 and the A500.

Public footpaths circle the reserve. These can be accessed from the churchyard surrounding the old church tower.


Telephone: 0300 060 6000