The Hidden Lake.
If I was to tell you of a place where an undiscovered species of spider has been recently found on a strange raft of growing vegetation which floats upon a hidden lake forty feet deep which has never been seen, and where insect eating plants have also been found you would think that I was referring to some location deep within the Amazon jungle, however believe it or not this unique place of Special Scientific Interest can be found on the outskirts of the picturesque Cheshire village of Wybunbury!
The depression which created Wybunbury Moss was caused by the last ice age when the movement of a glacier carved out the ground leaving a depression which over time became filled with peat added to this was the fact that the underlying rock was unstable, this led to subsidence causing the peat to float on an underground lake thirteen metres in depth.
The technical term for this unique place is known as a Schwingmoor (floating bog) and because it is extremely dangerous to walk upon it access is restricted to the public footpath which takes you past it and which still provides very good views of this special place.
The floating raft of vegetation is carpeted in Sphagnum moss where other plants can be found growing which include Cotton Sedge, Cranberry, Bog Rosemary, Heath Spotted Orchid, Marsh Violet and not forgetting the insect eating Sundew. Not only is it home to these plants but two rare spiders (one found as recently as 1994) and a beetle which can only be found at this location and exist no where else in the U.K.
There can be found to the west of the Moss a boggy area known as Tomwall well (Townwall well?) which at some time in the past would have supplied drinking water to the north part of the village, the waters were believed to have healing properties in it and although the area is now overgrown the spring still flows to this day.
Another connection to this unique place is a childrens book called “Nellie Longarms will get you if you don’t watch
out” it tells the story of Nellie Longarms and Jennie Greenteeth who are fabled creatures that live in the bog. They inhabit a dark wet and mysterious place full of submerged secrets. Rose and Millie stumble into their hidden, dark and mossy world and find themselves embarking on a puzzle solving adventure which leads them on a merry dance throughout their exciting summer holiday while stopping with their Grandparents in Wybunbury Moss in Cheshire.
To find Wybunbury Moss I followed the signposts for the A500 from the town of Nantwich, eventually I came to a large island (which was not floating) and this had a signpost for Wybunbury which I followed for about a mile and a half. Once I reached the village I stopped at the Swan public house which is next to the Leaning Tower of Wybunbury which was built in 1470 and has been straightened a couple of times during its lifetime.
At 120feet in height it had once been part of a large church which could have held up to 1600 people, however due to subsidence the rest of the church was demolished in 1976 just leaving the tower standing. The tower is a well known Cheshire landmark and engineers who worked on the “Pisa Project” in the later stages of the 20th century studied Victorian methods of stabilizing the tower, however whether or not the tower will have to be demolished like the church, only time and the stability of the ground will tell.
After entering the grounds of the church through the main gate, look to your left and you will see a gate with a yellow arrow on it follow this as it is the public footpath which will lead you through the graveyard and down the hill towards the Moss. An interesting feature you will notice as you travel through the graveyard is that all the footpaths have been created from grave stones, this must be the ultimate in recycling!
Follow the public footpath signs which will take you down to the fields where the Moss can be found, also look for information signs along the way which will show you where you are in relation to where the Moss is located. Remember stay on the footpaths, if you go walking on the Moss and fall through the games over, otherwise someone will probably be digging you out of a peat bog in 10,000 years time similar to the way Lindow Man was discovered, you have been warned!