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.
Exploring Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses
Welcome to Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve, part of Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have been restoring the Mosses, since large-scale commercial peat cutting was stopped in 1990. This preserves the irreplaceable record of our past in the peat, conserves rare boggy biodiversity, provides wider environmental benefits and mitigates climate change by keeping the peat carbon stored in the bog.
The Mosses Trails
Discover all about the open wilderness of Fenn’s & Whixall Mosses, on these general trails. Look for sheets of furry bogmoss and cotton sedge, and for sundews, cranberries and bog rosemary. Listen for the bubbling call of the curlew. Spot the rare whitefaced darter dragonflies and raft spiders.
Stroll along the Llangollen Canal, one of Britain’s most popular waterways. Its views, lift-bridges and lush fen and alder carr woodland offer a rich contrast to the rainwater-fed Mosses. Watch out for kingfishers, flag iris and banded demoiselle damselflies.
The History Trail
Travel through time, starting from prehistory with its preserved bog bodies and record of past landscapes. Discover the history of drainage for agriculture, peat cutting and forestry, which nearly destroyed this internationally important wildlife site. Follow the journey from local medieval hand cutting through to modern industrial peat mining.
Explore the military use of the Moss, its rifle and bombing ranges and WWII Strategic Starfish Site.
The Bettisfield Moss Trail
The drainage of the English side and Welsh margins of Bettisfield Moss for hand-cutting peat allowed a smothering blanket of selfsown pine forest to invade. In 2001, this was removed allowing the NNR’s largest uncut area, in Wales, to bounce back from the brink of extinction. This sheltered trail travels through woodland, wet alder carr and newly restored mossland. Look for butterflies, including the bog’s rare specialist, the large heath, and the many different coloured bogmosses.
Whixall Moss Boardwalk and the Old Railway Line
Ramps allow easy access from Morris’s Bridge car park, along the level surfaced towpath and a boardwalk onto a restored area of Whixall Moss. Sit and enjoy wide views across the Moss.
Disabled visitors can arrange to borrow a key and drive along the disused railway line to see Fenn’s Moss. Spot Britain’s largest dragonfly, the emperor, and watch acrobatic hobby hunting.
Shropshire Way Loop
A detour has been created from the Shropshire Way-North, passing through the Mosses from Bettisfield village to Whixall School. A circular walk to explore Bettisfield and Whixall Mosses can be made by using the canal tow path to go from Roundthorn or Morris’s Bridge to Cornhill Bridge, then following the way-marked route back.
For general enquiries contact:
Peter Bowyer Senior Reserve Manager 07974 784795 or 01948 880362
David Tompkins Reserve Manager 07826 530767 or 01948 880362
Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve PDF – 1.6 MB