Area: 17.1 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
This site is important as a traditionally-managed area of unimproved grassland which is of high botanical value and of a type which is becoming increasingly rare.
It is located on gently undulating ground of the Carboniferous shales of the Culm Measures of North Devon. The soils are heavy clays and drainage is restricted over most of the site: in some places the ground is permanently waterlogged.
The vegetation covering much of the drier parts of the site is grassland dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea with heath-grass Danthonia decumbens and sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum and containing dwarf shrub species, mainly cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, heather Calluna vulgaris, western gorse Ulex gallii, creeping willow Salix repens and petty whin Genista anglica. Sedge species, particularly green-ribbed sedge Carex binervis star-sedge C. echinata, tawny sedge C. hostiana, common sedge C. nigra, carnation sedge C. panicea and flea sedge C. pulicaris are common. Other herb species which occur include meadow thistle Cirsium dissectum, heath spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata, lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, lesser butterfly-orchid Platanthera bifolia, saw-wort Serratula tinctoria, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis and heath milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia.
In the wetter parts of the site compact rush Juncus conglomeratus is abundant and herbs such as meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, valerian Valeriana officinalis, marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, southern marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, lesser skullcap Scutellaria minor and whorled caraway Carum verticillatum occur, the last having a nationally very restricted distribution.
Amongst the vertebrate fauna harvest mouse Micromys minutus and common lizard Lacerta vivipara have been recorded, while the invertebrates include the uncommon marsh fritillary butterfly Eurodryas aurinia and the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth Hemaris tityus.