Burning The Great Hangman

Great Hangman North devon

The Great Hangman in North Devon is an excellent example of heather moorland – 150 acres of western gorse, ling and bell heather. It's a stunning sight in August, when the heather is in full bloom.

The National Trust supports light grazing by sheep, cows and Exmoor ponies. Their liking for coarse grass, gorse and shrubs is just the selective grazing that's needed to encourage the heather.

A burning need

Every winter, controlled 'swaling' is carried out on the moor, where small areas of heath are burnt to encourage the heather to regenerate.
The new growth allows insect life to thrive, including rare weevils, leaf beetles and the endangered High Brown Fritillary butterflies, as well as mottled grasshoppers, crane flies and Burnet moths.
Such a traditional approach has produced a vigorous heather moorland in better condition than most moors in Southern England. The area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by English Nature.