Area: 50.7 hectares.
The site is managed as a nature reserve by the Devon Trust for Nature Conservation.
Chudleigh Knighton Heath is a fine example of lowland Devon heathland and is an important representative of damp heathlands of South West Britain.
The site supports a varied flora which includes both rare and local species and is notable for its breeding populations of birds, amphibians and insects.
The site lies at an altitude of between 125 and 175 metres on the eastern side of the Bovey basin. The soils, which demonstrate a range of acidity, have developed from drift deposits superimposed on clays of Jurassic and Cretaceous age. The greater part of the site comprises open heathland characterised by an abundance of western gorse Ulex gallii, European gorse U. europaeus, heather Calluna vulgaris, bell heather Erica cinerea, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and bristle bent Agrostis curtisii. Plants such as lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, tormentil Potentilla erecta and common milkwort Polygala vulgaris characterise the drier areas of the heath and while wetter areas in the south west of the site support cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bog mosses Sphagnum spp and southern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa and marsh St John’s wort Hypericum elodes. Two species of plants which have a very restricted distribution in Devon and which occur on the site are petty whin Genista angilica and pale dog violet Viola lactea.
The roadside verges and other areas at the periphery of the heath support a flora characteristic of somewhat calcareous and disturbed soils. This includes species which are rare or uncommon in Devon, such as fragrantorchid Gymnadenia conopsea, blue fleabane Erigeron acer, small toadflax Chaenorhinum minus and pale flax Linum bienne.
The site is fringed in part by woodland dominated by pedunculate oak Quercus robur and hazel Corylus avellana, and by scrub, dominated by silver birch Betula pendula and willow Salix spp. The variety of habitats present supports a diverse breeding bird community which includes grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia and nightingale Luscinia megarrhynchos. Red-backed shrike Lanius colluria and nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus have also been recorded.
There is a rich lepidoptera funa which includes the green hairstreak Collyphrys rubi butterfly, and a number of moth species rare in Devon including Phoceuusa paupella, Stenoptilla zopholactylus and Monopsis weaverella.
Small pools on the heath provide the breeding grounds for a range of amphibia including the uncommon warty newt Triturus cristatus.