The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland National Park\n© Simon Fraser

Influence on biodiversity

Bogs © NNPABogCurlew © Laurie CampbellCurlewBlack Grouse © Laurie CampbellBlack Grouse
The silica-rich sandstone bedrock slowly weathers to form thin, acidic, nutrient-poor sandy soils which support heather moorland, particularly above 250 meters. Heather, mainly ling, grows in extensive patches on much of the upper slopes and crags of the hills.

Other associated dry heath species include bilberry, cowberry, crowberry, and bell heather (particularly on rocky outcrops). Species found on wet heath include crossleaved heath, deer grass and hare’s tail cottongrass.

This moorland is managed both for grouse, and as rough grazing for sheep where it often forms an acid grassland/heather mosaic.

Both the Simonside Hills and Harbottle Moors SACs, support excellent examples of both wet and dry heathland vegetation which occur in mosaic with blanket bog and raised mires and shallow loughs. Bog myrtle is found in wetter areas and some uncommon species such as dwarf cornel occur on ungrazed ledges.

Breeding waders such as golden plover, curlew and dunlin are found together with crag nesting birds such as kestrel, raven and peregrine.

The Grasslees Burn valley, which lies between the Harbottle Hills and the Simonside ridge supports remnant alder woodland and areas of semi-natural upland oak and birch woodland together with small areas of juniper scrub.

The sandstone crags, such as Great Dour and Echo Crags, often have curtains of pendulous lichens hanging from vertical faces, including several species of Usnea and Bryoria, and most of the English population of Alectoria sarmentosa. Dry underhangs have pink patches of Arthonia arthonioides.

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