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Mutter's Moor is "an outstanding example of lowland heath:"
Mutter's Moor is situated on top of a steep hill. To the east it overlooks the Regency seaside town of Sidmouth. To the west the Otter Valley stretches beneath with views to Woodbury Common. The moor is an outstanding example of lowland heath.
Such heaths have become scarce nationally and conservation of the remaining area is now most important. The Heritage Coast Service, Clinton Devon Estates (the land owner) and the RSPB are undertaking a long term project to conserve this and other heathlands for the enjoyment of future generations. The thin acid and stony soil supports plants such as a variety of heathers and gorse, also bracken and bilberry are found. These host a wide range of insects especially moths and butterflies.
The bird community is interesting and summer visitors include stonechat, tree pipit and the nightjar, a long winged bird which flies at dusk and has a chirring call which carries across the heath. Ancient trackways lead onto and across Mutter's Moor and today there is a network of paths and bridleways which have been cleared signed and waymarked. Public access to the plantations however is much more restricted.
The South West of England is steeped in history and legend. One story which appears to be based on fact concerns the infamous Mutter gang which operated in the area during the 17th century. They were heavily involved in smuggling wines and tobacco from the nearby coastline.
One of the extended family of Mutters became an agent of the government forces which were responsible for controlling and eradicating smugglers. He was much despised by other members of the Mutter family and one night they murdered him. They were not content with this and dismembered his body and even went to the extent of throwing the parts into the bushes for passers-by to see.
Sidmouth - Mutters Moor.
An unusual daytime observation of a male Nightjar churring at 11.25 am. I picked up the 'song' from about 200 yards and on passing a likely location was surprised to see the bird perched on a branch ten feet away. Couldn't resit a quick photo before the bird took flight and it flew around uttering its 'krruit ' call and wing clapping.
This is a good opportunity to advertise Devon Birds' three Nightjar evenings scheduled for Stover Country Park (Sat 29 June), Hartland Forrest (Sunday 30 June) and Mutters Moor, Sidmouth (Wed 10 July). Details in the 2013 Programme and shortly to be announced in the press.
Devon CC profiles Mutter's Moor's geology and other features:
And excellent information from the District Council:
www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/uploads/documents/ourwork/Publications/Mutters moor and Peak Hill.pdf
Clinton Devon Estates are responsible for the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths which, at 2,800 acres, is "one of the largest remaining areas of lowland heath in England."
East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Trust - Clinton Devon Estates
Management planning on Mutter's Moor - Pebblebed Heaths
There are concerns about proposals to "open bridleways to all traffic" as reported last month in Sidmouth Independent News and by SOS:
The Herald article considers all points of view:
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