Location and Topography
Bolton lies in the North West of Greater Manchester, bordering on Lancashire, and ranges from relatively flat land in the south, to the high moorland of the West Pennine Moors in the north, which rises to a height of 444 metres above sea level at Winter Hill.
Despite nearly half of the borough being urban land, significant areas of UK BAP priority habitats remain. This includes magnificent upland Oak woods such as Gale Clough and Shooterslee Wood SSSI. A significant proportion of the county's moorland (upland heath and blanket bog) is found in Bolton, which looks stunning in August when the heather is in bloom.
The borough holds the highest proportion of scrub in the county, and the second highest proportion of semi-improved neutral grassland. Bolton has important areas of bog, especially at Red Moss SSSI, where recent restoration work by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust has resulted in the reappearance of Sundew.
There are also numerous ponds, canals, lodges and reservoirs, all contributing to the diverse range of habitats. Nob End SSSI supports an unusual (for Greater Manchester) collection of plant species because of its alkaline substrate, present as a result of past industrial activity.
Three species of newt, as well as Common Frog and Common Toad, breed in the borough's ponds and lodges. Mammals to be seen in Bolton include Badger, Roe Deer, as well as those ferocious predators, Stoat and Weasel.
Otters are starting to return to the rivers and brooks, and hopefully will increase in numbers over the next few years.
Specialist moorland birds, such as Curlew, Raven, Golden Plover and Wheatear can be seen in the upland areas. Many species of rare plant, not recorded elsewhere in Greater Manchester, are found in Bolton, including Carline Thistle, Oak Fern, Vervain, Water-purslane and several species of Bog Moss (Sphagnum).
Seven species of Bat have been recorded, many of these roost in buildings in urban areas. Dragonflies and Damselflies frequent the ponds and streams, adding a splash of colour in late summer, and many species of Butterfly can be seen on the wing on sunny days.