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Side Farm Meadows Nature Reserve

Location: Cotton, Staffordshire
OS: SK 057 467

Habitat: Acidic grassland, scrub and woodland

Side Farm Meadow Nature Reserve in bloom at the start of the summer
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The Reserve

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 Succisa pratensis, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Harebell Campanula rotundifolia and Tormentil Potentilla erecta. Towards the bottom of the valley the grassland gives way to scrub and woodland composed mainly of Birch Betula mixed with Ash Fraxinus, Holly Ilex, Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna and Alder Alnus glutinosa.


Side Farm Meadows includes a variety of habitats – from the grassland and scrub to the meadows, as well as two ponds. These areas of water add to the valuable habitats found at the site and help to support 5 species of dragonfly.

In addition to the flora and ponds, the sheltered valley in which Side Farm Meadows sits offers shelter which creates the ideal habitat for invertebrates and large numbers of butterflies. The butterflies, which can be found on the reserve during the summer, include meadow brown, small health and large skipper.

Species to look out for



The nearest rail stations are Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield (visit National Rail for more information). There are also bus routes that pass near to the site. More information can be found here or by calling Traveline on 0871 200 22 33.

Visiting the site

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.