Rod Wood, Cheddleton
Located amongst a mix of habitats, these meadows offer terrific views across to the Peak District. The three meadows here support a wide range of flowering plants including many which are uncommon in Staffordshire. Anyone visiting the reserve in late June/early July will be rewarded with a spectacular display including oxeye daisy, knapweed and orchids (see 'Species to spot' below). But you’ll need to get there before the fields are cut in mid-July. After mowing the grass is left on the ground to dry for several days, allowing any wild flower seeds to drop back onto the ground and make sure there are plenty of new plants in future years. It is then gathered for use as fodder and hay.
The range of wild flowers in the pastures and meadows provides a haven for butterflies all of which are abundant on warm, sunny days.
Header image (above) © Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
How to get there
From the A523 Leek-Ashbourne Road follow signs for RSPB Coombes Valley about 2.5 miles from Leek. Take this minor road, passing the RSPB reserve, for 1.5 miles to the top of the hill; Rod Wood is signposted on the right.
Species to spot
Best time to see: June - Aug.
Large and daisy-like, the oxeye tends to bloom around midsummer and in fact is called the Sunnwendbleaml - or 'solstice flower' - in Austria. Before the 16th century it was known as the 'Moon Daisy' or 'Dog Daisy'.
Best time to see: June - Sept
A thistle-like plant also known as 'black knapweed', although its flowers are actually bright pink. It is a popular source of nectar for the Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Painted Lady and many other butterflies.
Best time to see: All year
Often seen bounding across fields using their powerful hind legs to propel them forwards in a zigzag pattern. In early spring, Brown Hares are at their most visible as the breeding season encourages fighting or 'boxing'. Image © Damian Waters/drumimages.co.uk