Braunton Burrows is the largest dune system in the UK and it’s right on your doorstep. Dramatic scenery with steep-sided high sand dunes, wild open grassland plains and over 400 species of vascular plants, this biosphere reserve is a must see. You can park in our Sandy Lane car park, which is situated right amongst the dunes. You could spend hours exploring this vast landscape that is also a great place for dog walking. The Dunes of Braunton Burrows don’t just look beautiful, they provide a home for thousands of species of plants, insects and animals, many of which are incredibly rare.
Water Germander is a rare indigenous perennial plant only found at one other site in the UK – a flooded limestone quarry in Cambridgeshire. Similar in appearance to mint, its pink flowers come to life from June to October, and when crushed, the leaves of the plant give off a strong smell of garlic. Other plants that can be found amongst the Burrows include the Yellow Bartsia, Shar Rush and Restharrow.
The snails and insects in turn provide an attractive habitat for birds. Where the vegetation is low there are typical ground nesting birds, such as the meadow pipit and skylark. The rabbits throughout the dunes attract common buzzards and kestrels hovering in search of their prey. Robins, dunnocks, the song thrush and wren can be found year round. Listen out during May for the call of the Cuckoo.
There are around 34 different butterfly species recorded as residing in Braunton Burrows. Rare species including dark-green fritillary, marbled white, grayling, small blue and grizzled skippers have all been spotted fluttering around the dunes.
Out of the 56 different species of butterflies found in the UK. 34 have been recorded on Braunton Burrows including some which are quite rare.
Many protected species thrive at Braunton Burrows, including the UK’s only poisonous snake, the Adder.
Although they are not aggressive and often hide away from movement, there have been cases of dogs being bitten. This is more common during warm weather when the snakes are sunbathing. If your dog gets bitten, go straight to a vets familiar with treating adder bites.
Owing to its similarity with the Normandy Coast, much of the North Devon coast was used for military training during WW2 in preparation for the D-Day landings, with Braunton Burrows being a key location. You can still find a small group of concrete landing craft mock-ups hidden among the dunes and bramble patches.
Today, the Burrows are still highly valued as a training ground for our armed forces which means that you can often see various aircraft dropping troops in amongst the dunes – difficult terrain makes it ideal for land-based navigational activities.
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