Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve
Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve is a national nature reserve which straddles the border between England and Wales, near Whixall and Ellesmere in Shropshire, England and Bettisfield in Wrexham County Borough, Wales.
It is managed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales (replacing the former Countryside Council for Wales) and comprises three peat bogs, Bettisfield Moss, Fenn's Moss and Whixall Moss. Fenn's Moss is the source of the Wych Brook, a tributary of the River Dee. The River Roden, a tributary of the River Tern, also rises in the vicinity and forms part of the border of England and Wales near Wem Moss (see below). The Llangollen Canal runs near the southern edge of the reserve and the Ellesmere Canal joins it nearby.
Part of the same geological Moss Complex, though separated by a strip of agricultural land, are Cadney Moss (now reclaimed for agriculture and forestry) in Wales and the adjacent Wem Moss (in virtually pristine condition) in England. They are collectively called The Fenn’s, Whixall, Bettisfield, Wem & Cadney Moss Complex and form Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog. The complex, at 948 hectares (2340 acres), is so big that it is visible from space (Only Thorne and Hatfield Moors near Doncaster are bigger.)
The reserve is part of the Midland Meres and Mosses, an Important Plant Area which was declared a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1997. It is also a European Special Area of Conservation.
The area is an extremely rare survivor – most mosses in the UK have been drained for agriculture, forested or become commercial peat digging areas at some stage. Commercial peat cutting ceased here altogether in 1991 and restoration work, as far as this is possible, has been carried out since then.
Wildlife in the nature reserve includes kingfisher, mute swans, watervoles, damselfly and dragonfly species such as the white-faced darter, various species of duck, and even the rare bird of prey the hobby. Plants include cotton sedge, bog moss (Sphagnum), great hairy willowherb, bog myrtle, water figwort, flag iris, cross-leaved heath, bog rosemary, cranberry and sundew; common alder trees, alder buckthorn, grey sallow and crack willow predominate.
In 2001 a partnership between English Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales and British Waterways (since succeeded by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and the Canal and River Trust respectively), developed circular waymarked trails through some areas of Fenn's and Whixall Mosses.
- Gordon Emery - Guide to the Maelor Way (1991) ISBN 1-872265-98-7
- Gordon Emery - Curious Clwyd (1994) ISBN 1-872265-99-5
- Fenn's, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses: National Nature Reserve (Natural England)