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Shropshire - Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses

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Morning All,


I have just returned from a trip to Shropshire. Very intermittent internet access so my apologies if I owe anyone a response and have not done so yet.


I didn't have much time for botanising but I drove an hour or so for a quick visit to Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses. Mosses is a local name for the peat bogs. These were worked for peat on a commercial basis and were also drained for forestry. Now recognised as one of the most significant raised bogs in the UK it has taken >20 years of work to get the resotration to it's current state. 


A pile of old peat blocks cut while the site was in production:




Here is a link to a website with information about the site>


General view showing one of the old peat cuttings:




These were worked in strips and the strips are side by side across the whole area. These low-lying bands are now filling with water and support a diverse community of plants and animals.


Close up of one of the low lying areas. Spagnum growing over liquid peat of unknown depth!




I only had an hour or so at the site before having to drive back to meet up with the family and it was clear that this was not enough time to do the area justice. It is one of the best nature reserves that I have been to and is a credit to those that have worked so hard to save it. 


However, I was there to try to spot CPs. This is where it becomes tricky. Access is strictly limited to the mown tracks on the site. These are designed to give safe, dry access and are raised slightly from the level of the sphagnum. On the paths that I explored this meant that the boggier parts were a couple of metres from the tracks. This is fine if you want to observe the birds etc but difficult if you would like to be close up to the smaller wetland plants. If you want to leave the tracks you need a permit.


I did find one small area where I could get close to the wet peat and managed to see an old favorite, Drosera rotundifolia:




In summary, this is a superb wetland area. It is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), both of these classifications give it good legal protection. It is great to see a wetland area being restored and conserved. Although I have only explored a small part of this site I suspect that the access rules may mean that it is difficult to see small plants. For CP observing and photography I have found areas such as Wales, the Lake District and the New Forest easier as you can get very close to the plants.




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They are great sites! Shame their is only the one species of drosera left there, But still nice to see none the less! :)

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