Tag Archives: Wales

Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses

On a cold but sunny winters day I made what is my second visit this area.  The picture above is from a previous trip when the weather was a lot warmer.  It was still freezing on my visit the other day, despite it being in the middle of the day.
DSCN0641Location & Access: The Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses straddles the English-Welsh border about 5 miles south-west of Whitchurch.  There is no major road to the site, so you’ll have to take one of the narrower country lanes off the A495, B5476 or B5063.  If you fancy taking a boat though the Llangollen Canal runs through the middle of the site.  The site is relatively flat and shouldn’t provide any problems, though the walk from one of the carparks can be a bit of a trek if you have mobility problems.

Geology: The geology of the area is perhaps less obvious than the hills & valleys I normally write about.  The Mosses are a rare environment, being a lowland raised bog and small areas of wetland it is a unique habitat for wildlife too.  Their formation began about 12,000 years ago as the ice sheets retreated north.  In amongst the till were depressions filled with water and melting ice.  These formed the kettle holes that dominated the north Shropshire, south Cheshire and Wrexham area.  Some of the these holes remained full of water and form the numerous kettle ponds that can be found in the area.  Good examples can be found in Ellesmere and Delamere.  In the case of the Mosses the hole filled up with layer upon layer of peat.  This has created an acidic peat bog that has made a fantastic, albeit soggy under foot, environment and a link to our country’s icy past.



Wildlife: Besides the peat bog and its like to an ancient glacial past the Mosses is a great place for wildlife…well when its not frozen over ;).

Alongside the myriad of insects and spiders there are also adders and a wide range of birds, and according to one local I spoke to, the rarely sited water shrew.  Unfortunately due to it being winter I didn’t see most of these.  I did manage to get some pictures of the water fowl in the area.


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These are my first attempts at photographing flocks of birds in flight.  I had mixed results with many of pictures focusing on the background rather than the birds, but I don’t think they’re too bad for a first timer.  The ducks that I’ve managed to get shots of include Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Wigeons (Anas penelope), Teals (Anas crecca) and Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos).  I also saw some Pintails (Anas acuta) and Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) but happened to be changing the battery at the time.

References: Fundamentals of the Physical Environment (3rd Edition) by P. Smithson, K. Addison & K. Atkinson (2002).  Geology (2nd Edition)by S. Chernicoff (1999).  Geology of Shropshire (2nd Edition) by P. Toghill (2006).  The Geology of Britain – An Introduction by P. Toghill (2006).   iGeology map from the BGS (2015).  Information leaflet from the site and produced by Natural England and Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru (Countryside Council for Wales).



Well I’m about 7 months into my blog writing and I’ve hit the 500 views mark, so as a thank you to those who have visited my site, read my ramblings and started to follow me here are some random scenic shots that I have taken over the years.  Enjoy 🙂

DSCF3541Sgwd Henrhyd in the south Brecon Beacons (Wales).  On a side note, this waterfall was used as the outside of the Batcave in The Dark Knight Rises.



Same waterfall, just from the inside.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye (Scotland)

A male Snow Bunting on Cairn Gorm.Gruinard Bay, North-west Highlands (Scotland).

I took the above two shots at the Wrekin, Shropshire (England) a few Autumns ago.


Part of Mitchell’s Fold stone circle near the Stiperstones, Shropshire (England).

Inside the Grotta di Nettuno in Sardinia (Italy)

Sea Arch, Sardinia (Italy)

Pistyll Rhaeadr – Fantastic Welsh Waterfall

With a rare day of sunny weather in Shropshire I took the opportunity to visit a place I’ve been to on a few occasions and I’ve thought I’d share a few images of today’s trip, plus those of the past.

Pistyll Rhaeadr (I confess to not knowing how to pronounce this properly as my Welsh is rather poor) is a wonderful, yet little known waterfall in north-east Wales, about 10 miles west of Oswestry.  Apparently it is the highest single dropping waterfall in Wales, and though it is no Niagara the area is a beautiful place to walk and you can get both underneath and to the top of the falls.

DSCF4344The main waterfall has two drops; the higher set dropping into a deep plunge pool, which sadly is accessible due to the sheer drop to get to it.  If you’re feeling brave you can take a path to the left of the falls.  TAKE EXTRA CARE WHEN WALKING AROUND THE FALLS, SOME OF THE PATHS ARE NARROW, THE ROCKS CAN BE WET AND THE DROP…WELL YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO THINK OF YOU’RE LIFE BEFORE HITTING THE BOTTOM, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.  Now that the boring warning is given…

Location & Access: The falls are easy to access, though you might take a bit of time finding them on a map.  They are located at around 52*51′ N, 3*22′ W.  The only way to reach them by road is to travel to the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant on the B4580 and then take the narrow road (with passing places) you to the falls.  The road ends at the falls so you can’t miss it.


There is a cafe and a carpark (£2 charge for the day) at the base of the falls, though a few hundred metres down the road there are a few places that you can park for free.  There are also toilet facilities on site.  Access to the base of the falls is good; there is a wide path with a gentle incline that should be no problem for most visitors.  This leads to a bridge over the stream that gives you a good view of the falls.  If you want to get to the top of the falls there is a path to the right, over some stiles and a steep walk up to the top of the hill.  This may be difficult for people with restricted mobility.

River Features: Pistyll Rhaeadr has many of the classic features you’d expect at a waterfall and an upland stream.  There are a series of plunge pools at the base of the falls.  Just watch out as you walk over the wet rocks…I couldn’t sit down properly for 6 weeks after I fell over whilst crossing here once.  You can see potholes and the eroding river bed.



At the top of the falls you get a great view of the valley, a remnant of the time when glaciers once carved out the landscapes.  The steep sided valley displays evidence of hanging valleys as well as the remains of glacial debris, though now heavily farmed over and not as evident as other parts of Wales.  The geology of the surrounding hills is that of the Llangynog Formation – a series of mudstones with a band of tuff approximately 457-459 million years old (Ordovician period).


One of the more unique features is that above the half-way plunge pull is a section of fallen & eroded rock that forms a ‘bridge’ across the stream before the water falls over again.  Sadly you can’t reach it, just admire it from afar.

DSCF4345The whole site is a fantastic place to spend a few hours if you’re ever near Oswestry.  The hills are beautiful and the falls are some of the best in region.