The last sanctuary for the Silver-studded Blue butterfly in the Midlands. The reserve is on a large Common that had been a Second World War airfield. A major restoration project is re-instating heathland and grassland vegetation across much of the site.
Other species to look out for
Foxes, rabbits, polecats, stoats and weasels are present. Common Lizards bask in the open in the summer. A variety of heathland birds use the reserve, including hobbies and skylarks.
The reserve covers the western half of Prees Heath - a registered Common that extends to some 126 hectares.
The old airfield runway runs down the middle of the reserve and the airfield control tower still stands near the northern end. On the blocks of arable land, the sandy sub-soil has been brought to the surface so that heathland and grassland can be re-established by seeding.
Butterfly Conservation purchased the reserve in 2006 after a long campaign and appeal in association with Prees Heath Commoners, local supporters and Shropshire Wildlife Trust. The purchase and restoration project was, however, only possible thanks to a major grant from GrantScape under their Biodiversity Challenge Fund. Funding support is also received from Natural England.
Reserve area: 60 hectares
OS Grid Reference: SJ 557 363 OS Map number: Explorer 241
- The reserve lies between the A49 and the A41 two miles south of Whitchurch
- Access to the reserve can be gained via a track off the A49, opposite the turning to Steel Heath
- Parking is available at the truckstop car park (pay & display) at the roundabout juntion of the A41 and A49, just north of the reserve
- The short walk onto the reserve involves crossing the busy A49
The railway station of Prees village is approximately two miles from the reserve, as is the larger railway station at Whitchurch. Both are on the Shrewsbury to Crewe line.
Site access and Safety
The reserve now has its own website with up-to-date information concerning events, guided walks, volunteer work parties, wildlife sightings and much more.
The reserve is very flat. However, there is an abundance of rabbits and consequently, there are many rabbit holes which, combined with the sandy soil, are a hazard. Please watch where you put your feet.
The reserve is Open Access land, so people can walk wherever they wish, but horse-riding is by permit only - there are no bridleways. Unauthorised vehicles are not allowed on the Common.
Dogs should be kept under control, especially from 1 March until 31 July to protect ground-nesting birds.
During the heathland/grassland restoration phase, seeded areas need to be allowed to regenerate; visitors’ co-operation with this is requested.
Most ticks are little more than an irritation, but a few can transmit Lyme disease, a rare and potentially serious illness which is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. It is therefore important to be informed and take some simple precautions.
Meres and Mosses
Butterfly Conservation is a partner organisation and a member of the Management Board for the Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership Scheme and Nature Improvement Area. The Reserve lies within the project area and is benefitting from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to improve public access and to carry out some restoration works on the old airfield control tower, which will provide visitors with a lot more information about the geological, military, social and natural history of the site.
Stephen Lewis, Prees Heath Reserve Manager (West Midlands Branch)
- Mobile: 07900 886809
- Prees Heath factsheet
- Prees Heath Airfield
- Prees Heath WWII Geology
- Prees Heath Common Reserve - A 2020 Vision for Heathland
- Prees Heath Newsletter 2009
- Prees Heath Newsletter 2008
- Prees Heath Newsletter 2007