Exmoor Bell Heather

There is an advancing purple hue across much of Exmoor at this time which I very much look forward to.  For a couple of months the Bell Heather’s magnetic colour advances over the drier stony ground.  The ‘Bog Heather’ prefers the damp peaty ground as it’s nickname suggests.  It’s flowers a lighter lilac and clustered together at the end of the stem. Of the several species of heather to be found on Exmoor these are the best known to me and I admire the contrast of colours when heather is alongside the golden gorse and rich green bracken.

Burning and grazing have been best known methods of keeping the heather in prime growth over the years.  It’s amazing how this plant can withstand the harshest of winter conditions.  Frost, snow and biting winds then rises from a brown carpet gradually to an olive green hue in May.  By early summer the Red Deer and Exmoor Ponies find the young shoots to graze and by August the massed blooms paint the moorland, hills and coast.  I like to travel from Dunkery to the Great Hangman area near Coombe Martin for some of the best views of sweeps of regal colour.

Whilst pleasing to the eye, heather is also sourced by bee-keepers locally and is a very satisfying way of buying honey with many outlets throughout the area.  Some being an ‘honesty box’ by the roadside.

As usual stopped off at The Exmoor White Horse Inn for a bite to eat and drink

Written by Peter