Side Farm Meadows

Location: Cotton, Staffordshire

Grid Reference: SK 057 467

A beautiful example of an important upland habitat.

Small fields slope down to a winding stream, and the vegetation is typical of grazed, heathy pasture, with water seepage lines inhabited by species such as marsh violet and opposite-leaved golden saxifrage.

Side Farm is situated in the secluded valley of Cotton Dell in north-east Staffordshire. Perhaps because of the steep and difficult terrain, much of the valley has escaped agricultural ‘improvement’ and provides important habitat for a range of wildlife.

A bit on the Side

The Side Farm nature reserve includes a combination of acidic grassland, scrub and woodland. The grassland areas are grazed by a mixture of cattle and Jacob’s sheep.

The meadows are sprinkled with wild flowers including Devil’s-bit scabious, oxeye daisy, bird’s-foot-trefoil, harebell and tormentil. Towards the bottom of the valley the grassland gives way to scrub and woodland composed mainly of birch mixed with ash, holly, hawthorn and alder.

In addition to the flora, the sheltered valley also provides an ideal habitat for invertebrates and large numbers of butterflies can be found on the reserve during the summer including meadow brown, small heath and large skipper. The reserve also includes two ponds, which provide further valuable habitat, supporting five species of dragonfly.