Sunday, 8 July 2012

Exmoor National Park

ON the last day of our mini-holiday to the SW of England, we visited the northern edge of Exmoor National Park.  The first walk of the day was from Hunter's Inn to the coast, along the Heddon Valley.  The unusual feature of this valley is the exposed scree slopes where the loose substrate makes it hard for many plants to get a purchase.  Only the colonisers who can cope with little soil thrive; amongst these are wall pennywort, common stone crop and sheep's-bit.  The first two of these can be found on many dry stone walls, a man-made habit that emulates this scree environment.
Wall pennywort
Common stonecrop and sheep's bit

The valley also hosts outstanding stunted and twisted oak woodland.

We later went on to visit the open countryside too.  At the other extreme of habitats the boggy moorland supports heather, rushes and grasses, and is actively managed by sheep grazing.  This keeps the dominant plants at bay and allows the more delicate species such as lousewort and heath spotted orchid to prosper.

Finally on almost every hedgerow the stunning foxglove spikes stand proud.

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