Activities and information about Dane-In-Shaw Pasture
Dane-in-Shaw Pasture SSSI can be accessed from the Biddulph Valley Way near the railway viaduct, from the Macclesfield Canal tow path or from the end of the cul-de-sac called Bosley View on Henshall Hall housing estate.
Once on the pasture there are no surfaced paths and the terrain is sloping and uneven in parts and can become very muddy, particularly during wet winter months.
Cattle graze the pasture between about May and December. These are generally friendly and take little notice of people passing but please do not allow dogs to harass the cattle.
No camping, fishing or fires are allowed on the pasture.
For further walking in the area see the Biddulph Valley Way page.
Dane-In-Shaw Pasture - site of special scientific interest
Dane-in-Shaw Pasture is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to it being a grassland of national importance. Take a walk through the Pasture in the summer and it is easy to see why this site is so important. Ox-eye Daisy, Common Spotted Orchid, Black Knapweed, Common Cat's-ear and many other flowers can be seen growing amongst the grasses.
On bright summer days butterflies flit from flower to flower searching for a feast of nectar, whilst dragonflies skim along the sparkling waters of Dane-in-Shaw Brook hunting for any unlucky insects that cross their path.
If you're lucky you may see a Kingfisher fly past in a flash of electric blue, or a Dipper bobbing on rocks in the brook hunting for invertebrates.
The grassland is carefully managed with cattle grazing the steep slopes alongside the brook during the summer and autumn. Before allowing the cattle onto the top meadow a hay cut is taken.
Ripe seed heads of Yellow Rattle signal to the farmer that hay making time has arrived. The seeds really can be heard rattling around inside the old flower head!
Overshadowing the western edge of the pasture are the Ten Arches or Congleton Viaduct. This railway viaduct was built to carry the West Coast Main Line over the the valley and was opened in October 1848. The embankment on the eastern edge of the site was constructed to carry the Macclesfield Canal which opened in 1831.
For a map showing Dane-in-Shaw Pasture SSSI download the Valleys and Pastures leaflet (PDF, 4.19MB).
Why Dane-in-Shaw Pasture SSSI is so important
Dane-in-Shaw Pasture is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is a nationally important grassland.
Since 1939 Britain has lost more than 95% of its unimproved grasslands due to agricultural intensification, neglect, overgrazing, ill advised tree planting and development.
Areas such as Dane-in-Shaw Pasture are important as they have not been ‘improved’ by ploughing and fertilising and so still have a good diversity of plants and the animals which are associated with them.