General characteristics

Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (5%)

Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (60%)

Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (2%)

Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (10%)

Dry grassland, Steppes (10%)

Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (10%)

Mixed woodland (3%)

Habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic Coasts

This site represents an extensive length of largely hard coastal cliff in south-west England, with a range of maritime influences and vegetation developed on hard neutral to acidic sedimentary rocks. It demonstrates a range of vertical or near-vertical cliffs with intervening slumped sections. The greater part of this very long site, totalling approximately 60 kilmetres, is west-facing, fully exposed to Atlantic storms and therefore strongly maritime in character. The section east of Hartland Point faces north and northeast and is relatively sheltered. Inland of the crevice and grassland communities, maritime heath and short coastal grassland with wild thyme Thymus polytrichus and spring squill Scilla verna are particularly significant, and locally these show transitions to scrub and woodland in the adjacent valleys. This includes an unusual wind-pruned cliff woodland, the Dizzard, with an exceptionally rich lichen flora.

Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles

Stretches of old sessile oak wood occur at various points along this section of coast. The trees are frequently wind-pruned, sometimes to the point where they are barely taller than the heather Calluna vulgaris. The oak communities include small patches of richer ash Fraxinus excelsior and alder Alnus glutinosa woodland. The bryophyte and lichen assemblages are particularly rich, and the Atlantic influence is also shown in the abundance of hay-scented buckler-fern Dryopteris aemula.

Habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

European dry heaths

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Natural England [2015].