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Midland Meres and Mosses

England - Wales

Midland Mere and Mosses © Natural England-Peter Wakely, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Location: The meres and mosses of the north-west Midlands extend from Shrewsbury in the south to the Knutsford area in the north, as far east as central Staffordshire and as far west as the Wrexham area in the lowland fringe of north Wales.

Grid Reference: SJ540415

The meres and mosses of the north-west Midlands form one of the most important wetland areas in England. They lie in a landscape of gently undulating plain broken by sandstone ridges, in an area which is mainly rural and agricultural.

The presence of tracts of peat and expanses of water in this landscape seems surprising, but can be accounted for by the influence of the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago and shallow hollows were flooded by melting ice sheets. An important feature of the IPA is the presence of a large range of different wetland habitats, including open water, swamp, fen, alder carr, marshy grassland and peat bog. The area is peppered with small peat and open water wetlands that are of international conservation importance.

Plants you may see when visiting the IPA

In wetter areas, the mosses are covered by peat-forming carpets of sphagnum bogmoss species and the snowy heads of hare’s-tail cotton-grass and common cotton-grass. Cranberries, bog rosemary, bog asphodels, and insect-eating sundews and lesser bladderworts are to be found here too. Great hairy willowherbs, water figworts, marsh woundworts, yellow irises, reeds, nettles and marsh cinquefoils fringe pools and watercourses.


Springtime: cuckooflower, marsh-marigold, primrose, butterbur, common dog-violet

Summer: bog asphodel, southern marsh orchid, bog rosemary, common cotton-grass

Autumn and winter: ivy, gorse, lichens, mosses and a variety of fungi, including fly agaric, ceps, shaggy inkcap, puffballs and mushrooms

The IPA holds populations of some species whose conservation is significant in either national or international terms, like the slender green feather moss, a threatened species that can be found in the fens and flushes here. The IPA has been identified mainly due to the presence of some important vascular plants like least water-lily, cowbane and the floating water-plantain - a threatened aquatic plant that can be found in the canals.


View map of the IPA

Further Information

For additional scientific information on why the Midland Meres and Mosses have been identified as an IPA, including details of existing protection, landuse and threats to the site please click here.