Blackdown and Sampford Commons cover a large area (155 hectares) in the north west of the Blackdown Hills AONB. They contain a range of habitats including a large area of dry heath, carr woodland, springline mire and marshy grassland. The area is particularly stunning in the late summer when the heather is in bloom.
The heath supports a wide variety of butterfly species and spiders and is regionally important for birds which favour heathland habitats.
The site also contains Butterfly Conservation’s Little Breach reserve – two small meadows between the heathland common and adjoining forestry, noted for butterflies and moths.
There are spectacular views from the heath, a feature which no doubt influenced the siting of Culmstock Beacon, high on the southwest point of Blackdown Common. Culmstock Beacon is one of a chain of Elizabethan beacons used for lighting fires to warn of advancing enemies.
Look out for:
Heather in bloom, including bell heather, ling heather, cross-leaved heath; western gorse, heath spotted-orchid, heath milkwort, round-leaved sundew, bilberry, devil’s-bit scabious, cotton-grass.
There is also a large population of common lizards in Blackdown and Sampford Commons.
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Includes a Butterfly Conservation reserve
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Part parish, majority private ownership.
Best time to visit:
Late summer when the heather is in bloom.
Grid reference: ST115162
Nearest postcode: TA21 9QX
Open access. The two commons cover a large area. There are some large gravel tracks but other paths can be steep, uneven and muddy. No parking at the site itself. On-road parking north of the commons at ST126166 or south of the commons at ST108153.