Barle Valley

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Barle Valley
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Barle Valley is located in Somerset
Barle Valley
Location within Somerset
Area of Search Somerset and Devon
Grid reference SS723423
Coordinates 51°09′56″N 3°49′40″W / 51.16565°N 3.82778°W / 51.16565; -3.82778Coordinates: 51°09′56″N 3°49′40″W / 51.16565°N 3.82778°W / 51.16565; -3.82778
Interest Biological
Area 104.2 hectares (1.042 km2; 0.402 sq mi)
Notification 1997 (1997)
Natural England website

Barle Valley (grid reference SS723423) is a 104.2 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Devon and Somerset, notified in 1997.

Marsh fritillary

The site includes the Somerset Wildlife Trust's Mounsey Wood Nature Reserve and Knaplock and North Barton SSSI notified in 1954. The site is within Exmoor National Park.

The Barle Valley contains extensive tracts of ancient upland sessile oak ancient woodland which exhibit variations in structure and species composition as a result of difference in past management, geology and topography. The diversity of the site is increased substantially by areas of valley mire, heathland and acid grassland. Eighty five woodland vascular plant species have been recorded including thirty one ancient woodland indicators from a single compartment. The meadows are one of the few sites for great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) on Exmoor. Springs emerging from the base of sandstone slopes generate nutrient poor acid mires dominated by Sphagnum and Polytrichum moss carpets. The lichen flora is exceptional both for its luxuriance and in the number of rare species. One hundred and sixty five taxa of epiphytic lichens are present containing a remarkably large proportion of ancient woodland indicators giving the Barle a very high index of ecological continuity.


Wood warbler

The site contains an outstanding assemblage of woodland breeding birds including particularly high densities of wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). These are all summer visitors.

The River Barle provides an important habitat for kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), while scrub and heath have breeding stonechat (Saxicola torquata) and whinchat (Saxicola rubetra).

Other species[edit]

Twenty species of butterfly have been recorded in the valley including the nationally scarce marsh fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia) and nationally vulnerable high brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe). Both roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) graze areas of wood pasture. The presence of otters (Lutra lutra) on the Barle has been regularly recorded. A colony of dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) inhabits at least one of the hazel coppices.[1]


  1. ^ "Barle Valley" (PDF). English Nature. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12.