Winding path through a wood
Google map
Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Cotterill Clough[a]Clough is a local dialect word for a steep-sided, wooded valley.[1] is a 6-hectare (15 acres) nature reserve 15 km (9 mi) south of Manchester city centre, adjacent to and to the west of Manchester Airport.[2] Part of the larger 10.34-hectare (25.55 acres) Cotterill Clough Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.[3] The reserve was purchased in 1934 by public subscription as a memorial to the Cheshire naturalist Thomas CowardEnglish ornithologist and journalist (1867–1933) (1867–1933). The Cotterill Brook, which flows through the reserve, is a tributary of the River Bollin.[2]

The reserve is not open to the public except for occasional guided walks, owing to its unsafe infrastructure and the decision of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust to preserve the standing dead wood.[2]


Cotterill Clough is a ravine formed by the Cotterill Brook eroding the surrounding Keuper MarlNow deprecated term for multiple layers of mudstone and siltstone that occur beneath parts of the English Midlands and beyond. rock. The site is mostly wooded, and contains the highest biological diversity of this type of woodland growing on base rich soils in Greater Manchester.[3]

Flora and fauna

There are three distinct zones within the woodland, the canopy on the first of which, on the edge of the plateau, is dominated by downy birch, pedunculate oak and sycamore. A second zone lower down the valley sides is dominated by ash and wych elm, along with ground flora that includes ramsons, dog’s mercury, bluebells, wood anemone, lesser celandine and black bryony. The bottom of the ravine supports species that have a preference for wetter soils, such as alder and various species of willows, with ferns, mosses and liverworts flourishing among the herbs.[2]

Woodland birds such as spotted flycatcher, three species of woodpecker, Eurasian blackcap and common whitethroat are all known to breed within the reserve. Among the invertebrate fauna 79 species of spider have been recorded, as well as the rare beetle species Dropephylla grandiloqua.[3]


a Clough is a local dialect word for a steep-sided, wooded valley.[1]