Fenn's Whixall and Bettisfiled Mosses NAtional Nature Reserve (NNR)
The site is always open
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
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 shoveller. 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 watervoles.
Things to see and do
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.
There is a busy events programme
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.