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29 October 2014

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You are in: Shropshire > Nature > Nature Features > Brown Moss

Brown Moss

Brown Moss

Brown Moss

In terms of geology, Brown Moss in north Shropshire is a relatively young site. However, Liz Etheridge, Geology Officer with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, considers this one of Shropshire's most fascinating locations.

Getting There

Brown Moss is near Edgeley, which is south of Whitchurch, off the A525.

You can access the site from Edgeley or by following the brown signs from the A41, just north of Prees Heath.

"This is a real Ice Age landscape and you can look out and almost see the tundra."

Liz Etheridge, Geology Officer with Shropshire Wildlife Trust

There is plenty of parking and a circular route will take you round the nature reserve.

Brown Moss

Brown Moss is very different from the other locations in our geological tour. No mountainous areas or steep cliffs here.

Brown Moss is about as flat as you can get - a landscape of pools and mosses, surrounded by peat.

This scene is much younger than our other locations. It's an area scraped out as ice sheets retreated at the end of the last Ice Age, over 10,000 years ago.

As the glaciers withdrew they left large chunks of ice behind, stranded. The weight of these ice blocks caused a shallow indentation, which they then filled with water as they melted. Geologists often refer to these as kettle holes.

Even today, this is about as close to an Ice Age scene as you can get and it almost looks as if woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos should still be wandering next to the mere.

Brown Moss

Brown Moss

One of the most exciting aspects of Brown Moss is that this is geology in the making.

What's happening around you (and even underfoot) is the same process of building up layer-upon-layer of vegetation which took place on other sites millions of years ago. This peat only started to form around 10,000 years ago.

However, if we left it buried, and allowed it to bake for long enough, it would turn into coal.

Brown Moss on a summer's evening

Brown Moss on a summer's evening

Minerals like coal, limestone and iron ore have played a huge part in Shropshire's history. It's no coincidence that Coalbrookdale was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Similarly the economy of the county depended for many years upon its mineral wealth - minerals often created during the carboniferous period (around 300 million years ago).

Liz is quick to point out the importance of protecting sites such as Brown Moss.

Peat has a variety of uses, including horticultural, but it's also part of our geological past and mineral future.

Parking at Brown Moss

Parking at Brown Moss

Peat also does a valuable job of locking away carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and is one of many ways that our planet naturally regulates its greenhouse gases.

Despite the near Ice Age view in front of us, this is an area that's constantly changing. New land is emerging from the mere and quickly being colonised by a number of land plants.

Brown Moss is also a haven for wildlife. Over 200 varieties of wild plants make their home here - perhaps surprising, as it looks practically bare.

Meanwhile, wildfowl, great crested newts, dragonflies, great spotted woodpeckers, and jays all flourish here.

Ducks at Brown Moss

Ducks at Brown Moss

The walking is also very good. The area's very level, with plenty of parking within the reserve. There are also very clear footpaths that keep you a safe distance from the pools.

The terrain, however, is extremely varied, including marshes, open water, woodland and heathland. Inevitably it can get a bit soggy underfoot in parts and a good pair of shoes/boots are advisable.

See more...

Take a look at our panoramic picture taken on a summer's evening at Brown Moss Nature Reserve. Click the link below or on the top right.

Getting There

Brown Moss is near Edgeley, which is south of Whitchurch, off the A525.

You can access the site from Edgeley or by following the signs from the A41, just north of Prees Heath.

There is plenty of parking and a circular route will take you round the nature reserve.

last updated: 30/04/2008 at 13:37
created: 07/06/2005

Have Your Say

Comment on this article

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David G
Fascinating area ...lakes & hummocks...what the Americans call' knob & kettle'

louie
nice trackbut hard to find

Jack C
great 4 biking lol

Michal M
Ive been at Brown Moss and I have captured some fantastic photos for my college project.

Chris B
Visited today and found the area very interesting. However, our enjoyment would have been enhanced with either a map or directional signs indicating length of walk (i.e. time to walk) near the Car Park

Andreas Fuchs
Warning: Do not cross the dryed out lake area as you can sink down as nearly happend today (10 September 2005)

Anon
Looks like a nice place to visit and given the picture of the car park it seems to be encouraged but how does one get there? Where is it? Some directions would be good :-)

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