Abel Heath by Teresa Rogers 1/6
Credit Teresa Rogers 2/6
Abel Heath by Teresa Rogers 3/6
Railway cutting leading to the heath by Teresa Rogers 4/6
Harebells credit David North 5/6
Gorse credit David North 6/6

Abel Heath

Abel Heath is a registered common (CL103) and County Wildlife Site (CWS 1380) owned by the National Trust, lying between the parishes of Blickling and Aylsham. The site consists of unimproved acidic grassland, scrub and young oak woodland. It is intersected by four roads, and surrounded by arable land. A disused railway line passes along the south-east edge.
The grassland contains fine-leaved grasses, plentiful sheep's sorrel, with occasional harebell and heather. Together with areas of gorse and hawthorn, this forms an acid scrub/grassland mosaic.
Please note this site is not a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.


Habitat description from the Wildlife in Common Survey

This site is an unimproved acidic grassland with young oak Quercus robur woodland. It is intersected by four roads and surrounded by arable land. A disused railway line passes along the south-east edge. Part of this has been ploughed in, part of it has been filled in as it used to be a rubbish tip.

There is a good diversity of fine-leaved acidic grasses and mosses in the centre. This area is mown regularly but grades into more overgrown grassland. Here the grasses contain much sheep's sorrel Rumex acetosella and occasional gorse Ulex europaeus and hawthorn Crataegus monogyna scrub, forming an acid scrub/grassland mosaic.

Areas of acid grassland support hairy tare Vicia hirsuta, dovesfoot cranesbill Geranium molle, common vetch Vicia sativa, common cat’s ear Hypochaeris radicata, germander speedwell Veronica chamaedrys, ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata, heath bedstraw Galium saxatile and scattered gorse and abundant bracken Pteridium aquilinum. Heather Calluna vulgaris occurs in occasional patches, with rarer bell heather Erica cinerea. Harebell Campanula rotundifolia is rare. Other grassland species include agrimony Agrimonia eupatorium, common bent Agrostis capillaris, creeping bent Agrostis caninna, field woodrush Luzula campestris, lesser stitchwort Stellaria graminea, red fescue Festuca rubra, pignut Conopodium majus, sand spurrey Spergularia rubra, sweet vernal grass Anthoxanthemum odoratum, yarrow Achillea millefolium and Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus.

The east and western edges are characterised by young oak woodland with bracken Pteridium aquilinum as the dominant ground flora. Herbs found in these areas include primrose Primula vulgaris, daffodil Narcissus spp., red campion Silene dioica, ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea, woodsage Teucrium scorodonia, honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum and lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum.

Tree species recorded occasionally across the site include oak, ash Fraxinus excelsior, hawthorn, silver birch Betula pendula, field maple Acer campestre and hazel Corylus avellana. Goat’s beard Tragopogon pratensis, perforate St John’s wort Hypericum perforatum and greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea are occasional. Other forbs found, often associated with hedges and scrub, include lesser celandine Ficaria verna, barren strawberry Potentilla sterilis, garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata and dog violet Viola riviniana.  Two bee orchid Orphrys apifera spikes were recorded in the north east of the site. Native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta and hybrid bluebell Hyacinthoides x massartiana occur in the north of the common.

Download the survey results



Aylsham Road
Post code
NR11 6NP
Map reference
Grid reference
TG 174 272
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