Corporate report

Shropshire's National Nature Reserves

Updated 11 January 2024

Applies to England

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 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.


To explore Fenn’s and Whixall Mosses follow the brown tourism signs from the Ellesmere to Whitchurch (A495), the Whitchurch to Wem (B5476) or Wem to Welshampton roads, to the Morris Bridge car park (SJ 493355) on the Llangollen canal, Whixall. Parking is also available at Roundthorn Bridge (SJ 501357).

To explore Bettisfield Moss, follow the figure of 8 track from the World’s End car park (at the end of the second road on the right, west of Dobson’s Bridge, Whixall).

Voluntary car parking charges can be paid in advance or on the day using the RingGo app.

The nearest train 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.

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 email Steve Dobbin (Reserve Manager)

For general enquiries email Peter Bowyer (Senior Reserve Manager) or Steve Dobbin (Reserve Manager)

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. This well-visited site has a variety of upland habitats and is a refuge for many upland species on the edge of their range.

Main habitats: heathland, upland oak woodland, acid grassland, hay meadow, mire and swamp.

Recreational events such as orienteering, mountain biking 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.

The upland birds include: red grouse, red kite, skylark, raven, wheatear, whinchat and stonechat, while cuckoo and snipe breed lower down the hill. The woodlands are home to pied flycatchers, redstarts and tree pipits.

Invertebrates range from armies of hairy wood ants, to magnificent green hairstreak and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and emperor moths. A range of moths and bumblebees benefit from the bilberry and heather nectar including emperor moths and the bilberry bumblebee.

The plant life varies from the dwarf shrubs of the heath, where cowberry and crowberry are common, to the acid grasslands where in late spring mountain pansies bloom and in the winter a wealth of grassland fungi can be found.

There is open and well-used public access to the reserve. The NNR car park is a good place to start and there is information here on walking routes as well as a 650m all-ability trail.

Our nature reserve events programme can be found on our Facebook page.

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
  • you should avoid any livestock present on the site, particularly if they have young and if you’re with a dog

You should:

  • keep your dog on a lead at all times
  • watch out for mine workings and heather burning
  • wear suitable clothes and footwear, such as 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 at weekends and Bank Holidays from Easter to September. Check their website for current operating times.

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. You can park at the Bog or Snailbeach as well as the main NNR car park, where voluntary car parking charges can be paid in advance or on the day using the RingGo app.

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.


The NNR relies on people volunteering to help with management works, monitoring and events. The Stiperstones Volunteer Group, a small friendly group of practical volunteers, meets twice a month on Wednesdays and Thursdays.


For general enquiries contact Simon Cooter (Senior Reserve Manager)

To discuss volunteering opportunities contact Cassy Clayton (Reserve Manager)

For more information on school visits or to book a school session, contact Jenni Tibbetts (Engagement Adviser)

Tel: 01743 792294 or e-mail:

Natural England

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