Corporate report

Shropshire's National Nature Reserves

Published 31 October 2008

Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses

Straddling the English border, near Whitchurch in Shropshire and Wrexham in Wales, lies one of the biggest and best raised bogs in Britain. Its astonishingly varied wildlife makes it a place of international importance

Main habitats: lowland raised bog, wet woodland, wet peaty fields, heathland and Teesdalia grassland.

Features of interest

The reserve has 18 species of bog moss, as well as many other characteristic bog plants, such as the insect-eating round-leaved sundew, and more uncommon plants, too, like bog asphodel, bog rosemary, lesser bladderwort, white-beaked sedge, the rare mosses Dicranum bergeri and D. leioneuron and regionally rare golden bogmoss Sphagnum pulchrum.

Cloudberry grows at a much lower altitude than at its principal upland sites, and northern species like crowberry meet southern ones like cranberry, reflecting the location of the Mosses at the southern limit of raised bog growth.

Invertebrates are thriving after the restoration of the bog, including raft spider, the window-winged sedge caddisfly, and 29 species of dragonfly and damselfly. True bog specialists, including the white-faced darter dragonfly and very rare picture-winged bog craneflies, are now back from the brink of extinction.

There are also 670 different species of moth including the pretty little purple-bordered gold, the northern footman, dingy mocha and Manchester treble-bar. The 32 species of butterfly include the unmistakable brimstone, the green hairstreak and the real bog butterfly - the large heath - which lives on cotton sedge and cross-leaved heath.

Adders and common lizard are also thriving. With the restoration of water levels, there have been major changes in the birdlife of the Mosses, the 166 recorded species including wetland birds such as breeding curlew, teal and shoveler. There have been many more sightings of raptors including hen harrier and hobby and over-wintering short-eared owl.

The richer outflow ditches of the Mosses are a stronghold for water voles

See the site visitor leaflet for more details.


The nearest station is Prees, 4 miles away.

Hourly bus services from Shrewsbury to Wem to Whitchurch stop at Tilstock, 3 miles from the Reserve, except on Sundays. On Mondays and Fridays, Shropshire Link provides a demand responsive service into Whixall from Wem, Ellesmere and Whitchurch (0845 678 9068).

The reserve is near Route 45 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

Schools and community groups

A limited service may be offered for guided visits for local schools in the immediate area, depending on staffing resources, involving pond dipping and insect collection. Teachers are also welcome to use the NNR Base coach parking, toilets, classroom and collecting equipment and field guides for self-guided visits.

University and college groups will also be guided around the NNR.

Contact site staff for more information.


The NNR relies heavily on people volunteering to help with management works, events, research and administration. Student or graduate placements are welcomed, as are local people who can come in to help for a day or more a week.

The Fenn’s Volunteer Group, a small friendly group of practical volunteers, meets twice a month on the second Sunday and the fourth Thursday.


To discuss volunteering opportunities contact Pete Bowyer (Reserve Manager) on 07974 784795,

For general enquiries contact Joan Daniels (Senior Reserve Manager) (Mon- Wed) on 07974 784799, or Pete Bowyer (Reserve Manager) on 07974 784795,

Natural England
Manor House NNR Base
Moss Lane
SY13 2PD

Telephone: 01948 880362


The Stiperstones NNR includes the major part of the Stiperstones ridge in south Shropshire, near the Welsh border.

Main habitats: upland

Recreational events such as orienteering and rock climbing are by permit only.

Features of interest

This is a wild and atmospheric landscape, with a geology of national significance. The Ordovician ‘Stiperstones Quartzite’, which makes up the ridge was shattered during the last ice age to create the jagged, boulder-strewn landscape seen today.

Common lizard and common frog live on the reserve and local birdlife includes red grouse red kite, skylark, raven and stonechat.

Invertebrates range from armies of hairy wood ants, to magnificent green hairstreak butterflies and emperor moths.

There is open and well-used public access to the reserve. The Stiperstones Stomp is an 8km path that takes in the sights of the ridge and surrounding countryside, while there are also a number of shorter alternative routes and a 650m all-ability trail.

See the site visitor leaflet for more details.


Be aware that:

  • many of the paths are rocky and steep
  • weather conditions can change quickly and become severe, especially in winter
  • lightning strikes are common in this upland area
  • livestock may kick, bite, butt and trample, particularly if they have young and if you’re with a dog
  • sporting rights are privately owned; traps and snares are in use and shoots may take place at any time from 12 August to 1 February inclusive

You should:

  • keep your dog on a lead at all times
  • watch out for mine workings and heather burning
  • wear suitable clothes and footwear, eg walking boots
  • carry spare clothes and refreshment
  • take a mobile phone or let someone know your route and estimated arrival time


The nearest train stations are in Welshpool (20 kilometres to the west) and Church Stretton (10 kilometres to the east).

There is a mainline train station in Shrewsbury (18 kilometres to the north east).

The Shropshire Hills Shuttles are 16-seater mini-buses which provide easy access into the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for walking, sightseeing, pub lunches, picnics and more. They operate every weekend and Bank Holiday Monday from Easter to September. The Stiperstones is a stop on the Shuttle’s route.

The reserve is 3 kilometres east of the A488, which runs parallel to The Stiperstones ridge.

By car, access is via minor roads from the A488. As well as the main NNR car park on the road to Bridges village, you can also park at The Bog Centre or Snailbeach.

The NNR is on the route of the Shropshire Way, a 264 km trail from Shrewsbury to Ludlow.

Schools and community groups

Stiperstones NNR hosts visits by school groups. See the school and community groups page in the National Archives for full details.


If you want to carry out scientific studies or collect specimens you should write to the:

Senior Reserve Manager,
Natural England

Tel: 01743 792294 or e-mail:

For more information on school visits or to book a school session, contact Jenni Tibbetts on the above address, telephone 01743 792294 or e-mail

Wem Moss

An excellent example of a lowland raised bog, Wem Moss NNR is home to raft spiders, large heath butterflies and large numbers of adders.

Main habitats: peatland

Management: Wem Moss is owned and managed by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

Features of interest

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Wem Moss web page.


Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Telephone: 01743 284280