Exmoor is loosely defined as an area of hilly open moorland in west Somerset and north Devon in South West England. It is named after the River Exe, the source of, situated in the centre of the area, two miles north-west of Simonsbath. Exmoor is more defined as the area of the former ancient royal hunting forest called Exmoor, surveyed 1815–1818 as 18,810 acres in extent; the moor has given its name to a National Park, which includes the Brendon Hills, the East Lyn Valley, the Vale of Porlock and 55 km of the Bristol Channel coast. The total area of the Exmoor National Park is 692.8 km2, of which 71% is in Somerset and 29% in Devon. The upland area is underlain by sedimentary rocks dating from the Devonian and early Carboniferous periods with Triassic and Jurassic age rocks on lower slopes. Where these reach the coast, cliffs are formed which are cut with waterfalls, it was recognised as a heritage coast in 1991. The highest point on Exmoor is Dunkery Beacon; the terrain supports lowland heath communities, ancient woodland and blanket mire which provide habitats for scarce flora and fauna.
There have been reports of the Beast of Exmoor, a cryptozoological cat roaming Exmoor. Several areas have been designated as Nature Conservation Review and Geological Conservation Review sites. There is evidence of human occupation from the Mesolithic; this developed for agriculture and extraction of mineral ores into Iron Ages. The remains of standing stones and bridges can still be identified; the royal forest was granted a charter in the 13th century, however foresters who managed the area were identified in the Domesday Book. In the Middle Ages sheep farming was common with a system of agistment licensing the grazing of livestock as the Inclosure Acts divided up the land; the area is now used for a range of recreational purposes. Exmoor has been designated as a national character area by Natural England, the public body responsible for England's natural environment. Neighbouring natural regions include The Culm to the southwest, the Devon Redlands to the south and the Vale of Taunton and Quantock Fringes to the east.
Exmoor was designated a National Park in 1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The Exmoor National Park is an upland area with a dispersed population living in small villages and hamlets; the largest settlements are Porlock, Dulverton and Lynmouth, which together contain 40 per cent of the park's population. Lynton and Lynmouth are combined into one parish and are connected by the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Exmoor was once a Royal forest and hunting ground, covering 18,810 acres, sold off in 1818. Several areas within the Exmoor National Park have been declared Sites of Special Scientific Interest due to their flora and fauna; this title earns the site some legal protection from development and neglect. In 1993 an environmentally sensitive area was established within Exmoor. Exmoor is an upland area formed exclusively from sedimentary rocks dating from the Devonian and early Carboniferous periods; the name of the geological period and system,'Devonian', comes from Devon, as rocks of that age were first studied and described here.
With the exception of a suite of Triassic and Jurassic age rocks forming the lower ground between Porlock and Timberscombe and from Minehead to Yarde, all of the solid rocks of Exmoor are assigned to the Exmoor Group, which comprises a mix of gritstones, slates, limestone and mudstones. Quartz and iron mineralisation can be detected in outcrops and subsoil; the Glenthorne area demonstrates the Trentishoe Member of the Hangman Sandstone Formation. The Hangman Sandstone represents the Middle Devonian sequence of North Somerset; these unusual freshwater deposits in the Hangman Grits were formed in desert conditions. As this area of Britain was not subject to glaciation, the plateau remains as a remarkably old landform; the bedrock and more recent superficial deposits are covered in part by moorland, supported by wet, acid soil. Exmoor has 55 kilometres of coastline; the highest sea cliff on mainland Britain is Great Hangman near Combe Martin at 318 m high, with a cliff face of 250 m. Its sister cliff is the 250 m Little Hangman.
The coastal hills reach a maximum height of 314 m at Culbone Hill. Exmoor's woodlands sometimes reach the shoreline between Porlock and Foreland Point, where they form the single longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales; the Exmoor Coastal Heaths have been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the diversity of plant species present. The scenery of rocky headlands, ravines and towering cliffs gained the Exmoor coast recognition as a heritage coast in 1991. With its huge waterfalls and caves, this dramatic coastline has become an adventure playground for both climbers and explorers; the cliffs provide one of the longest and most isolated seacliff traverses in the UK. The South West Coast Path, at 1,014 kilometres the longest National Trail in England and Wales, starts at Minehead and runs along all of Exmoor's coast. There are small harbours at Porlock Weir and Combe Martin. Once crucial to coastal trade, the harbours are now used for pleasure; the Va
The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in Northern England in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954. The Dales comprises river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. In Ribblesdale and Garsdale, the area extends westwards across the watershed, but most of the valleys drain eastwards to the Vale of York, into the Ouse and the Humber; the extensive limestone cave systems are a major area for caving in the UK and numerous walking trails run through the hills and dales. The word dale, like dell, is derived from the Old English word dæl, it has cognates in the Nordic/Germanic words for valley, occurs in valley names across Yorkshire and Northern England. Usage here may have been reinforced by Nordic languages during the time of the Danelaw. Most of the dales are named after their stream; the best-known exception is Wensleydale, named after the small village and former market town of Wensley, rather than the River Ure, although an older name for the dale is Yoredale.
River valleys all over Yorkshire are called "+dale"—but only the more northern valleys are included in the term "The Dales". The Yorkshire Dales are surrounded by the North Pennines and Orton Fells in the north, the Vales of York and Mowbray in the east, the South Pennines in the south, the Lake District and Howgill Fells to the west, they spread to the north from the market and spa towns of Settle, Skipton and Harrogate in North Yorkshire, to the southern boundary in Wharfedale and Airedale. Natural England define the area as most of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with fringes of the Nidderdale AONB, but without the towns listed above apart from Settle; the lower reaches of Airedale and Wharfedale are not included in the area, Calderdale, south of Airedale and in the South Pennines, is not considered part of the Dales though it is a dale, is in Yorkshire, its upper reaches are as scenic and rural as many further north. Additionally, although the National Park includes the Howgill Fells and Orton Fells, they are not considered part of the Dales.
Most of the larger southern dales, Ribblesdale and Airedale, Wharfedale and Nidderdale, run parallel from north to south. The more northerly dales and Swaledale run from west to east. There are many other smaller or lesser known dales such as Arkengarthdale, Clapdale, Kingsdale, Langstrothdale, Raydale and the Washburn Valley whose tributary streams and rivers feed into the larger valleys, Barbondale, Dentdale and Garsdale which feed west to the River Lune; the characteristic scenery of the Dales is green upland pastures separated by dry-stone walls and grazed by sheep and cattle. A survey carried out in 1988, estimated that there were just over 4,971 miles of dry-stone walling in the Yorkshire Dales. Many upland areas consist of heather moorland, used for grouse shooting from 12 August. Much of the rural area is used for agriculture, with residents living in small villages and hamlets or in farmsteads. Miles of dry stone walls and much of the traditional architecture has remained, including some field barns, though many are no longer in active use.
Breeding of sheep and rearing of cattle remains common. To supplement their incomes, many farmers have diversified, with some providing accommodations for tourists. A number of agricultural shows are held each year. Lead mining was common in some areas of the Dales in the 19th century during 1821 to 1861, some industrial remains can still be found, such as the Grassington miners’ cottages. Certain former mining sites are maintained by Historic England; the Grassington Moor Lead Mining Trail, with its many remaining structures, has received funding from a variety of sources. The National Parks Service provides an app for those. In this agricultural area, tourism has become an important contributor to the economy. In 2016, there were 3.8 million visits to the Yorkshire Dales National Park including 0.48 million who stayed at least one night. The parks service estimates that this contributed £252 million to the economy and provided 3,583 full time equivalent jobs; the wider Yorkshire Dales area received 9.7 million visitors who contributed £644 million to the economy.
Visitors are attracted by the hiking trails, including some that lead to beautiful waterfalls and by the picturesque villages. The latter include Kirkby Lonsdale, Appletreewick, Clapham, Long Preston and Malham; the 73 mile-long Settle–Carlisle line railway, operated by Network Rail, runs through the National Park using tunnels and viaducts, including Ribblehead. The top-rated attractions according to travellers using the Trip Advisor site include Aysgarth Falls, Malham Cove and Ribblehead Viaduct; the dales are'U' and'V' shaped valleys, the former enlarged and shaped by glaciers in the most recent Devensian ice age. The underlying rock is Carboniferous Limestone, which results in a large areas of karst topography, in places overlain with shale and sandstone and topped with Millstone Grit, although to the north and west of the Dent Fault the hills are formed from older Silurian and Ordovician rocks; the underlying limestone in parts of the Dales has extensive cave systems, including the 87-kilometre long Three Counties System, making it a major area for caving in the UK.
There are over 2500 known caves. Visitors can try caving
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems. Deserts, rain forests, plains and other areas including the most developed urban areas, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that much wildlife is affected by human activities. Humans have tended to separate civilization from wildlife in a number of ways including the legal and moral sense; some animals, have adapted to suburban environments. This includes such animals as domesticated cats, dogs and gerbils; some religions declare certain animals to be sacred, in modern times concern for the natural environment has provoked activists to protest against the exploitation of wildlife for human benefit or entertainment. The global wildlife population decreased by 52 percent between 1970 and 2014, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund.
Stone Age people and hunter-gatherers relied on both plants and animals, for their food. In fact, some species may have been hunted to extinction by early human hunters. Today, hunting and gathering wildlife is still a significant food source in some parts of the world. In other areas and non-commercial fishing are seen as a sport or recreation. Meat sourced from wildlife, not traditionally regarded as game is known as bush meat; the increasing demand for wildlife as a source of traditional food in East Asia is decimating populations of sharks, primates and other animals, which they believe have aphrodisiac properties. In November 2008 900 plucked and "oven-ready" owls and other protected wildlife species were confiscated by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Malaysia, according to TRAFFIC; the animals were believed to be sold in wild meat restaurants. Most are listed in CITES which restricts such trade. A November 2008 report from biologist and author Sally Kneidel, PhD, documented numerous wildlife species for sale in informal markets along the Amazon River, including wild-caught marmosets sold for as little as $1.60.
Many Amazon species, including peccaries, turtles, turtle eggs, armadillos are sold as food. Others in these informal markets, such as monkeys and parrots, are destined for the pet trade smuggled into the United States. Still other Amazon species are popular ingredients in traditional medicines sold in local markets; the medicinal value of animal parts is based on superstition. Many animal species have spiritual significance in different cultures around the world, they and their products may be used as sacred objects in religious rituals. For example, eagles and their feathers have great cultural and spiritual value to Native Americans as religious objects. In Hinduism the cow is regarded sacred. Muslims conduct sacrifices on Eid al-Adha, to commemorate the sacrificial spirit of Ibrāhīm in love of God. Camels, sheep and cows may be offered as sacrifice during the three days of Eid. Many nations have established their tourism sector around their natural wildlife. South Africa has, for example, many opportunities for tourists to see the country's wildlife in its national parks, such as the Kruger Park.
In South India, the Periar Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary are situated around and in forests. India is home to many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries showing the diversity of its wildlife, much of its unique fauna, excels in the range. There are 89 national parks, 13 bio reserves and more than 400 wildlife sanctuaries across India which are the best places to go to see Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceroses and other wildlife which reflect the importance that the country places on nature and wildlife conservation; this subsection focuses on anthropogenic forms of wildlife destruction. The loss of animals from ecological communities is known as defaunation. Exploitation of wild populations has been a characteristic of modern man since our exodus from Africa 130,000 – 70,000 years ago; the rate of extinctions of entire species of plants and animals across the planet has been so high in the last few hundred years it is believed that we are in the sixth great extinction event on this planet.
Destruction of wildlife does not always lead to an extinction of the species in question, the dramatic loss of entire species across Earth dominates any review of wildlife destruction as extinction is the level of damage to a wild population from which there is no return. The four most general reasons that lead to destruction of wildlife include overkill, habitat destruction and fragmentation, impact of introduced species and chains of extinction. Overkill happens whenever hunting occurs at rates greater than the reproductive capacity of the population is being exploited; the effects of this are noticed much more in slow growing populations such as many larger species of fish. When a portion of a wild population is hunted, an increased availability of resources is experienced increasing growth and reproduction as density dependent inhibition is lowered. Hunting, fishing and so on, has lowered the competition between members of a population. However, if this hunting continues at rate greater than the rate at which new members of the population can reach breeding age and produ
Penwith is an area of Cornwall, United Kingdom, located on the peninsula of the same name. It is the name of a former local government district, whose council was based in Penzance; the area is named after one of the ancient administrative hundreds of Cornwall which derives from two Cornish words, penn meaning'headland' and wydh meaning'at the end'. Natural England have designated the peninsula as national character area 156 and named it West Penwith, it is known as the Land's End Peninsula. The Penwith peninsula sits predominantly on granite bedrock that has led to the formation of a rugged coastline with many fine beaches; the contact between the granite and the adjoining sedimentary rock is most seen forming the cliffs at Land's End, the most westerly point in the district and this geology has resulted in the mining that has made Cornwall famous. Tin and copper have been mined in the area since pre-Roman times and the landscape is dotted with ruined mine buildings. Inland, the peninsula is granite with a thin top soil.
This combined with Cornwall's exposed position and the prevailing weather systems from the Atlantic Ocean means that, with the exception of the high moor areas, much of the area is a semi-bare plateau standing around 130 m above sea level. This is most evident on the north coast between St Just and Zennor where the remains of the ancient seabed of the Pliocene era are visible, its highest point is Watch Croft. There are several deep valleys cut into this plateau such as Lamorna on the south coast, where sufficient shelter from the weather is gained for trees to establish and grow; the shelter of these valleys and the mild climate gives Penwith a flora not seen anywhere else in the UK. Penzance's Morrab Gardens is able to grow bananas. Penwith contains an artificial lake, Drift Reservoir, located appromimately 3 miles west of Penzance. In addition to Penwith's status as a Heritage coastline, west Penwith, an area of 90 square kilometres, is considered an Environmentally Sensitive Area. Penwith lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A third of Cornwall has AONB designation, with the same status and protection as a National Park. The principal towns in Penwith are Penzance, the port town and seat of local government, St Ives, one of the county's most popular seaside resorts; the district is rural, contains many villages, principal amongst them being Botallack, Carbis Bay, Drift, Gwithian, Lamorna, Levant, Long Rock, Madron, Morvah, Nancledra, Paul, Pendeen, Sancreed, Sennen, St Buryan, St Erth, St Hilary, St Just in Penwith, St Levan and Zennor. For a full list of settlements in Penwith see List of places in PenwithAs a small peninsula at the tip of a larger peninsula, the district is somewhat isolated from the rest of the UK. Two major transport routes terminate in the district, the A30 road and the Great Western Main Line railway; the St Ives Bay Line provides local transport between St Ives, the main line at St Erth. A ferry to the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles west-south-west of the district, is based in Penzance. Penwith contains a great concentration of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Celtic British archaeological remains.
The most significant of them are described in a field guide first published in 1954. Tewdwr Mawr ruled over the area from Carnsew in the mid-6th century before returning to his patrimony in Cornouaille in Brittany around 577. Penwith's population has remained broadly static for the last one hundred and fifty years. Penwith is believed to be the last part of Cornwall where Cornish was spoken as a community language. Dolly Pentreath, known as the last recorded speaker came from Paul in Penwith. A year following the death of Dolly Pentreath in 1777 Daines Barrington received a letter, written in Cornish and accompanied by an English translation, from a fisherman in Mousehole named William Bodinar stating that he knew of five people who could speak Cornish in that village alone. Barrington speaks of a John Nancarrow from Marazion, a native speaker and survived into the 1790s. Chesten Marchant, d. 1676, a woman from Gwithian, is believed to have been the last monoglot Cornish speaker. Canon Doble's Cornish Saints Series included saints from this area: nine of these were reissued in 1960.
Penwith had a population of 65,000 in the mid-2007 estimates. 96.4% of Penwith residents were born in the UK. 72% of people in the district gave Christianity as their religion, whilst nearly 18% of people stated that they are non-religious, compared to 15 percent nationally. Penwith has the 6th highest rate of divorce of any district in England and Wales at 13.4% of the over 16 population, correspondingly has one of the lowest percentages of married couple households. Penwith district has one of the lowest levels of home ownership in the country and is ranked 4th for those without central heating; the district has one of the lowest rates of second car ownership and is ranked 300 out of 376 districts in England and Wales. The district has some of the highest indicators of bad health in the country and is ranked 28th and 41st for those described as having long term illness and general poor health respectively. Penwith has one of the highest unemployment rates of any district, ranked 51st out of 376 districts, one of the lowest rates of degree level education at 16%, compared to the national average of 20%.
Penwith is ranked as the district having the 28th largest retired population in England and Wales. Penwith is an area of extreme economic deprivation, it is ranked as the 25th most deprived district in Engl
The Blackdown Hills are a range of hills along the Somerset-Devon border in south-western England, which were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1991. The plateau is dominated by hard chert bands of Upper Greensand with some remnants of chalk, is cut through by river valleys; the hills support an extensive range of wildlife leading to the designation of 16 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There is evidence of human occupation since the Iron Age. Fortifications include the remains of ancient hill forts, Norman motte-and-bailey castles and Second World War airfields. There are religious buildings such as Dunkeswell Abbey and village churches; the hills are crossed by a network of minor roads with major transport routes including the M5 motorway running around the periphery. The Blackdowns form a natural region, designated as a national character area - No. 147 - by Natural England, the public body responsible for England's natural environment. Neighbouring natural regions are: the Devon Redlands to the west, the Vale of Taunton and Quantock Fringes to the north, the Mid Somerset Hills to the northeast, the Yeovil Scarplands to the east and the Marshwood and Powerstock Vales to the southeast.
Straddling the borders of Somerset and Devon, the Blackdown Hills AONB covers an area of 370 square kilometres. Cut with sharp valleys, the hills reach their highest point of 315 metres above sea level at Staple Hill in Somerset; the hills in the southern part of the area, near Honiton in Devon, are more gentle. The Blackdown Hills are a sparsely populated area; the River Culm rises at a spring near Culmhead and flows west through Hemyock Culmstock to Uffculme before joining the River Exe on the north-western outskirts of Exeter. The name of the river is thought to mean'knot' or'tie', in reference to the river's twists and loops; the River Otter rises near Otterford, where a stream feeds the Otterhead lakes:. It flows south for 32 kilometres through East Devon to the English Channel at the western end of Lyme Bay; the Permian and Triassic sandstone aquifer in the Otter Valley is one of Devon's largest groundwater sources, supplying drinking water to Taunton. The other rivers are the Corry Brook.
Villages in the northern, Somerset part of the hills include Staple Fitzpaine, Buckland St Mary, Whitestaunton and Churchstanton. The larger, more southerly area in Devon includes Dunkeswell, Smeatharpe, Blackborough, Membury, Sheldon and Chardstock; the geology of the Blackdown Hills together with the adjoining East Devon AONB is unique in south-west England, forming part of the only extensive outcrop of Upper Greensand in the region. The Blackdown Hills form a flat plateau dominated by hard chert bands, made up of clay with flints, of Upper Greensand with some remnants of chalk; the cretaceous rocks rest over eroded Triassic beds, with an outcrop of Rhaetian beds. In the western areas the Upper Greensand is devoid of calcareous material but the sands yield fossils of marine bivalves and gastropods preserved in silica. Along with the rest of south-west England, the Blackdown Hills have a temperate climate, wetter and milder than the rest of England; the mean temperature is 10 °C and shows a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but because of the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the United Kingdom.
January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 1 °C and 2 °C. July and August are the warmest months, with mean daily maxima around 21 °C. December is the most cloudy month and June the sunniest. High pressure over the Azores brings clear skies to south-west England in summer. Cloud forms inland near hills; the average annual sunshine totals around 1,600 hours. Rainfall tends to be associated with convection. In summer, convection caused by solar surface heating sometimes forms shower clouds, a large proportion of rain falls from showers and thunderstorms at this time of year. Average rainfall is around 35–60 inch. About 10–20 days of snowfall is typical. From November to March, mean wind speeds are highest; the predominant wind direction is from the south-west. There are 16 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Blackdown Hills ranging from the 156-hectare Black Down and Sampford Commons to Reed Farm pit at just less than 1-hectare. In total they cover 640 hectares, or just under 2% of the AONB.
Of these SSSIs 79% are deemed by English Nature to be being positively managed. SSSI is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom, selected by Natural England, for areas with particular landscape and ecological characteristics, it provides some protection from development, from other damage, from neglect, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The grasslands, heathland and mire support extensive populations of birds such as barn owls and nightjar, with butterflies including marbled white, green hairstreak and the gatekeeper butterfly; the flora includes the heath spotted-orchid, corky fruited water dropwort, green-winged orchid, heather and birds foot trefoil. The hedgerows and woodlands are made up of ash
Machair refers to a fertile low-lying grassy plain found on part of the northwest coastlines of Ireland and Scotland, in particular the Outer Hebrides. The best examples are to be found on North and South Uist and Lewis. Machair is a Gaelic word meaning "fertile plain", but the word is now used in scientific literature to describe the dune grassland unique to Western Scotland and north-west Ireland, it had been used by naturalists since 1926, but the term was not adopted by scientists until the 1940s. The word is used in a number of placenames in Ireland and Scotland in areas where no machair has been supported. In Scotland, some Gaelic speakers use "machair" as a general term for the whole dune system, including the dune ridge, while others restrict its use to the extensive flat grasslands inland of the dune ridge. In Ireland, the word has been used only in place-names, the habitat’s existence there was only confirmed. In 1976, an effort was made to define machair, although a number of systems still evade classification.
This proved a difficulty when the habitat was listed on Annex I of the Habitats Directive in 1992, leading to the distinction between "machair grassland" and the "machair system." Machair is distinguished from the links on the east coast of Scotland by a lower mineral content, whereas the links are high in silica. Machair plains are calcareous, with calcium carbonate concentrations of between 20% to 80% on the beaches, decreasing further away from the shore; the pH of a machair is greater than 7, i.e. it is alkaline. The inner side of a machair is wet or marshy, may contain lochs; the modern theory of machair formation was first set out by William MacGillivray in 1830. He worked out that shell fragments are rolled by waves towards the shore, where they are broken up further; the small shell fragments are blown up the beach to form hillocks, which are blown inland. Human activity has an important role in the creation of the machair. Archaeological evidence indicates that some trees had been cleared for agriculture by around 6000 BC, but there was still some woodland on the coast of South Uist as late as 1549.
Seaweed added nutrients to the soil. The grass is kept short by cattle and sheep, which add trample and add texture to the sward, forming tussocks that favour a number of bird species; the soil is low in a number of key nutrients, including trace elements such as copper and manganese, which makes it necessary to feed cattle supplements or take them to summer pastures elsewhere. The sandy soil does not hold nutrients well, making artificial fertilisers ineffective and limiting the crops that can be grown to certain strains of oats and rye, bere barley. Machairs have received considerable ecological and conservational attention, chiefly because of their unique ecosystems. Kelp in the sea next to the machair softens the impact of waves, reducing erosion, when it is washed ashore by storms, forms a protective barrier on the beach; as it rots, the sand flies it abounds in provide rich feeding for flocks of starlings and other passerines, wintering waders and others. If covered with sand, it will compost to form a fertile bed where annual coastal flowers and marram grass will thrive.
They can house rare carpet flowers, including orchids such as Irish lady's tresses and the Hebridean Spotted Orchid and other plants such as the yellow rattle. Bird species including the corn crake, dunlin, common redshank and ringed plover, as well as rare insects such as the northern colletes bee, the great yellow bumblebee and the moss carder bee. Arable and fallow machair is threatened by changes to the way the land is managed, where the original system of crofts is under threat from a reduction in the number of crofters and the use of "modern" techniques. Changes to the Common Agricultural Policy, where production was decoupled from subsidies, reduced the amount of grazing taking place in many crofting areas, led some areas to be undergrazed or abandoned. A lack of native seed increases the need for herbicides. Rising sea levels caused by global warming pose a threat to low-lying coastal areas, leading to increased erosion. In January 1993, the storm which ran MV Braer aground off Shetland eroded 3 metres of machair along the entire length of Uist and Barra.
On 11/12 January 2005, a storm blowing in excess of hurricane force 12 destroyed hectares of machair and killed a family of five