Welsh Marches Cliffs & Steppe Grasslands IPA

Location: Shropshire borders from Welshpool in the north to south of Presteigne in the south.

Grid Reference: SO 285 725

Welsh Marches Cliffs & Steppe Grasslands IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • The species richness of vascular plants on inland rock
  • Outcropping along the eastern edge of Wales are some of the oldest rocks in Britain, amongst them, Stanner Rocks, a distinctive rounded hill clothed in part by woodland of native trees and pockets of important grassland.

    Lying in the rain shadow of the Welsh mountains these rocks enjoy an unusual continental climate and support extraordinarily rich assemblages of scarce flowering plants, such as the Radnor lily, together with mosses, liverworts and lichens.

    The nature reserve is not generally open to the public due to its precipitous nature and tiny, delicate uncommon plants, but access may be arranged through the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). There is a short length of public footpath that leads to a small area of quarry floor open to unaccompanied visitors.

    The site, precipitous throughout and largely facing south-east, includes a mixture of deciduous woodland, grassland and rocky outcrops, mostly natural. The woodland canopy is primarily of oak and ash, with an understorey largely dominated by hazel and wych elm. Thin soils, generally low in calcium content, surround the rocky outcrops.

    As well as tiny pockets of soil on rock face ledges or cracks, areas of mosses on the rocks and the woodland edges all support unusual plants including spiked speedwell, sticky catch-fly, rock stonecrop, bloody crane’s-bill, common rock-rose, nationally rare mosses and liverworts and the Radnor Lily, this being its only known site in Britain.