Our wonderful heaths
Lightwater Country Park
We are surrounded by these beautiful habitats. They result from acidic land caused by historic farming practices, clearing forests, burning and grazing that impoverished the soil many millennia ago. It has left a landscape of great rarity and value to many species of wildlife.
There are three types of heather, shown opposite, all are present on our heaths and flower at roughly the same time, July to September, each year.
Most of our heaths have specially protected status. They were Special Protection Areas under European law and hopefully will remain so under our new laws.
The main protection is for three ground nesting bird species, the Dartford warbler, the woodlark and the nightjar. This is why people are asked to keep their dogs on leads or under close control from at least March to August.
But, the heaths have so much more to protect. Wildlife like sand lizards, silver-studded blue butterflies, golden-ringed dragonflies, adders and plants like the sundews.
Special insects include the heath grasshopper, the Potter wasp, the ladybird spider and the dusky cockroach.
There are also some more common species that help maintain the heaths such as red deer, muntjac and roe deer are all present locally. You will probably see some cattle like the Belted Galloways or ponies introduced to help graze the heaths and maintain the habitat.
Walks to enjoy
So many of the walks on this website include heathland to some extent. Look for this colour buttons on the walks pages.
The nocturnal Nightjar