Area: 81.9 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
The site is a large traditionally managed area of unimproved grassland, very rich botanically, of a type which has much decreased in extent in recent years.
The site is located on the Carboniferous shales of the Culm Measures of North. Devon. It occupies land on both sides of a gently sloping valley of a stream which flows south-west to north-east at this point. The soils are acidic clays with restricted drainage.
The vegetation consists almost entirely of marshy unimproved, acidophilous grassland with purple moor grass Molinia caerulea the most abundant species present. Other widely occurring species are heath-grass Danthonia decumbens, sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum, sharp-flowered rush Juncus acutiflorus, heather Calluna vulgaris, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, creeping willow Salix repens, petty whin Genista anglica, tormentil Potentilla erecta and deergrass Trichophorum cespitosus, the last being uncommon in this area of Devon. The sward is characterised by abundant sedge species, mainly tawny sedge Carex hostiana, star sedge C. echinata, carnation sedge C. panicea, green-ribbed sedge C. binervis and glaucous sedge C. flacca, and herbs such as betony Stachys officinalis, devil’s-bit scabious Succisa pratensis, lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, heath spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata, common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium, saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and heath milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia. The uncommon lesser butterfly-orchid Platanthera bifolia and Dyer’s greenweed Genista tinctoria and the nationally scarce wavy St John-wort Hypericum undulatum also occur.
In the areas of very poorly drained ground a different plant community with soft-rush Juncus effusus, compact rush J. comglomeratus, marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, marsh St John’s-wort Hypericum elodes, bog violet Viola palustris, slender spike-rush Eleocharis uniglumis and bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata is found.
The fauna includes breeding curlew Numenius arquata and adder Vivipera beris.