KEY FACTS & FIGURES
¨ The Blackdown Hills were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1991, joining the family of what is now 40 AONBs in England and Wales.
¨ The AONB covers 360 sq kilometres and sits between 150 and 310 metres above sea level.
¨ It has three major river valleys, the Otter, Culm and Yarty.
¨ The population of the area is approx. 13,500 residents.
¨ The largest settlement is Hemyock.
WHAT MAKES THE BLACKDOWN HILLS SPECIAL?
Four key characteristics led to the Blackdown Hills being designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
¨ It is an isolated and unspoilt rural area relatively undisturbed by modern development, leaving ancient landscape features, special habitats, historical and archaeological remains intact.
¨ It has diversity of landscape patterns and pictures, with a truly wonderful visual quality derived from a complex patterning and mosaic of landscapes.
¨ There is a unique geology shared with the neighbouring East Devon AONB which defines the topography giving rise to the flat plateaux, sharp ridges and spring lined valleys.
¨ The area has a landscape with architectural appeal punctuated by small villages and hamlets and isolated farmsteads of architectural value and local distinctiveness.
THE LANDSCAPE – WHAT WILL YOU SEE?
The Northern Escarpment – Dramatically steep and well wooded. Linear east-west topography emphasised by the straight road running along the top. Small hedged fields. View Point – Quarts Moor, National Trust Car Park
Wooded Ridge – Softer and rolling eastern extent of the escarpment. Extensive woodland including conifer plantations. Avenues of mature beech trees banked along side roads. View Point – Staple Hill Car Park (Neroche Forest)
Upland Plateau – Gently undulating land crossed by long straight roads bounded mostly by Beech hedges and isolated mature trees. Larger fields of predominately improved pasture. View Point – Dunkeswell Airfield
Rolling Ridgeland – Similar landscape to the plateau, but rolling topography with smaller fields, avenues of trees along road sides and views across valleys. View Point Half Moon Inn Car park – Clayhidon
River Valleys – heavily wooded upper slopes spilling down into pasture, hedge and hedgerow trees. Numerous small winding roads and isolated farmsteads. View Point – Culmstock Beacon
A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – HOME TO WILDLIFE
These are just some of the special species that can be found in the variety of Blackdown Hills habitats………..
Grasslands, Heathland and Mire – Barn Owls, Heath Spotted Orchid, Marbled White Butterfly and Corky Fruited Water Dropwort.
Hay Meadows and other species rich calcareous Grasslands – Green winged Orchid, Gatekeeper butterfly and Birds Foot Trefoil.
Lowland Heathland and wet Heath – Ling Heather, Lousewort, Green Hairstreak Butterfly and Nightjar.
Hedgerows – Ash, Hazel, Dormice and Common Lizards.
Wet Woodlands – Grey Willow, King Cup and Siskin.
Ancient Broad-leaved Woodlands – Pendunculate Oak, Stinking Iris and Purple Hairsteak Butterfly.
Rivers and Streams – Kingfisher, Otter and Daubenton’s Bat.
COMMUNITIES OF THE BLACKDOWN HILLS
The Blackdown Hills embraces over 40 parishes, four local authority districts (East and Mid Devon, South Somerset and Taunton Deane) and two counties (Devon and Somerset).
Recent consultation for the Blackdown Hills Management Plan clearly showed that local communities have a strong sense of identity with the area regardless of which administrative district they live in.
There are a huge number of groups and organisations in the Blackdown Hills that care for community resources, offer recreational opportunities and provide for social gatherings.
A LIVING LANDSCAPE
Agriculture over the centuries has helped to form the landscape and still provides the life blood for its continued conservation. There are many micro businesses providing all types of goods and services and the IT revolution has led to a growth in home working. Recent years has seen a resurgence of locally distinctive products predominately within food & drink and arts.
The Blackdown Hills AONB is managed by the Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership
A new general awareness raising leaflet about the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has just been launched. A copy can be downloaded here and hard copies can be obtained from Corinne Matthews.