The Quantock Hills along with Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks are well known for the quality of their heathlands. The mix of different types of heath are an important feature of the Quantocks.
The upland heath is dominated by dwarf shrubs of ling heather with whortleberry, bell heather, cross leaved heath and western gorse also present. The western heath are dominated by bell heather and western gorse.
On the better drained deeper soils of the lower slopes bracken is more prevalent. The bracken is often found with whortleberry, wavy-haired grass and dwarf shrubs such as heather and gorse.
The heaths support a range of characteristic animals. Birds include: Dartford Warbler, Whinchat, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Linnet, Wheatear and Raven. Nightjars can be heard during the summer months, whilst you may be lucky and spot a Hen Harrier gliding over the heath during the winter. A variety of invertebrates including a wide range of moths and butterflies such as the Small Heath and Grayling are to be found.
Although primarily woodland animals Red Deer can often be seen grazing on the heath in the early morning and late evening. The close proximity of heathland to scrub and woodland habitats creates a ‘transition zone’ of particular ecological importance. This area can be favoured by some animals and birds, such as Redstart and Tree Pipit.
Due to the increase of agricultural improvement of land the amount of heath left in the UK has decreased. Because of the ecological importance of this habitat the heathlands on the Quantock Hills are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The bridleways on the hilltops can be narrow and sometimes pot holed, but for a gentle ride with breath taking views is a stunning location.
The Quantock Hills boasts some of the SouthWest’s finest mountain bike trails with something for everyone.