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Special Areas of Conservation

7130 Blanket bogs

Raised bogs and mires and fens

Description and ecological characteristics

These extensive peatlands have formed in areas where there is a climate of high rainfall and a low level of evapotranspiration, allowing peat to develop not only in wet hollows but over large expanses of undulating ground.

The blanketing of the ground with a variable depth of peat gives the habitat type its name and results in the various morphological types according to their topographical position, e.g. saddle mires, watershed mires, valleyside mires. Other morphological types are less obviously defined. Eccentric mires, of which there are possibly only three in the UK, might be thought of as extreme, fan-shaped forms of valleyside mire that abut mineral ground at their upslope margins and have dramatic surface patterning aligned at right angles to the slope. Ladder fens form an integral part of some blanket bogs and have a characteristic surface patterning, with narrow pools and intervening low, narrow ridges parallel to the contours. Associated with this structure is a more species-rich flora than that of the surrounding mire expanse. This is due to local flushing of mineral nutrients through these fen areas, in contrast to the surrounding vegetation, which receives all its nutrients through precipitation, i.e. is ombrotrophic. Ladder fens may also be referable to 7140 Transition mires and quaking bogs.

Blanket bogs show a complex pattern of variation related to climatic factors, particularly illustrated by the variety of patterning of the bog surface in different parts of the UK. Such climatic factors also influence the floristic composition of bog vegetation. Many of the bogs in the Hebrides and Northern Ireland have affinities to types in western Ireland and thus exhibit more oceanic aspects of the range of variation, while those sites towards the eastern limit of blanket bog formation show more continental affinities.

An important element in defining variation is the relative proportion of pools on the bog surface. In general, the proportion of surface patterning occupied by permanent pools increases to the north and west, although the precise shape and pattern of pools appears to depend on local topography as well as geographical location. Variety within the bog vegetation mirrors this pattern and is also affected by altitude. Similarly, the number of associated habitats and communities, such as springs, flushes, fens and heath, is greater in the milder, wetter and geologically and topographically more complex north and west.

‘Active’ is defined as supporting a significant area of vegetation that is normally peat-forming. Typical species include the important peat-forming species, such as bog-mosses Sphagnum spp. and cottongrasses Eriophorum spp., or purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea in certain circumstances, together with heather Calluna vulgaris and other ericaceous species. Thus sites, particularly those at higher altitude, characterised by extensive erosion features, may still be classed as ‘active’ if they otherwise support extensive areas of typical bog vegetation, and especially if the erosion gullies show signs of recolonisation.

The most abundant NVC blanket bog types are:

  • M17  Scirpus cespitosus – Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire
  • M18  Erica tetralix – Sphagnum papillosum raised and blanket mire
  • M19  Calluna vulgaris – Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire
  • M20  Eriophorum vaginatum blanket and raised mire
  • M25  Molinia caerulea – Potentilla erecta mire.

M15 Scirpus cespitosus – Erica tetralix wet heath may also occur on blanket peat, but stands of Scirpus – Erica wet heath on shallower peats (<0.5 m depth) are generally referable to Annex I type H4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix. Hollows within blanket bog often contain M1 Sphagnum auriculatum, M2 Sphagnum cuspidatum/recurvum or M3 Eriophorum angustifolium bog pool communities, and, particularly in Scotland, there may be 3160 Natural dystrophic lakes and ponds. 7150 Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion occur locally around the margins of bog pools.

Heather Calluna vulgaris, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, cottongrasses Eriophorum spp., deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and bog-mosses such as S. papillosum, S. tenellum and S. capillifolium are characteristic of blanket bog throughout its UK range. Other species are more characteristic of, or more abundant in, certain areas. For example, the higher, drier eastern bogs typically support a higher proportion of hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum and bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus than those further west. Similarly, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and bog-myrtle Myrica gale are much more widespread and typical on western bogs. The distribution of some of the rarer bog-mosses, for example Sphagnum imbricatum and S. fuscum, is less readily associated with geography and may relate more to past management than to climate.

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 7130 Blanket bogs. Click image for enlarged map.

European status and distribution

In the EU, Blanket bogs are found primarily in the UK and Ireland, but the extent of surviving habitat is now much reduced in Ireland.

UK status and distribution

Blanket bogs are found in the north and west of the UK, extending from Devon in the south to Shetland in the north. Scirpus – Eriophorum mire predominates in the west, particularly at lower altitude, while Calluna – Eriophorum mire is particularly abundant in the east and at higher altitudes. Erica – Sphagnum mire is widely but patchily distributed.

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Site accounts

  • Airds Moss South Western Scotland

    Airds Moss represents one of the few remaining areas of relatively low-altitude blanket bog in south-west Scotland, where agricultural conversion and forestry have reduced the original extent. The vegetation over some parts of the site is modified by past drainage and mineral extraction, and dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea. Elsewhere, areas of surface patterning occur, and more typical bog vegetation dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris, deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix is extensive, with locally abundant white beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba, cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccos and carpets of the bog-moss Sphagnum magellanicum.

  • Ben Wyvis Highlands and Islands
    Ben Wyvis lies between the high-altitude sites of the Grampian Mountains and the northern peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland, and supports species and features typical of both these areas. Blanket bog occurs across a wide altitudinal range but of particular note are the extensive areas of uneroded high-altitude bog supporting cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus, alpine bearberry Arctostaphylos alpinus and dwarf birch Betula nana.
  • Berwyn a Mynyddoedd de Clwyd/ Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains East Wales, West Wales and The Valleys
    Berwyn supports the most extensive tract of near-natural blanket bog in Wales. Much of the blanket bog vegetation is dominated by NVC type M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, with crowberry Empetrum nigrum and an often extensive hypnoid moss cover; within this community cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus is found close to the southernmost limit of its British range. On deeper peats, there are smaller stands of M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum mire, some of which exhibit distinctive surface patterning. The mire vegetation shows transitions to heather-dominated dwarf-shrub heath.
  • Border Mires, Kielder - Butterburn Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear
    This complex is part of what was once the largest continuous tract of Blanket bogs across northern England and is particularly important for the quality of the transition it represents between blanket bog and raised mire. Although much of the land has been afforested, significant areas of the original bog remain throughout the forested expanse and these have been selected to represent this habitat type in northern England. The climate is wetter here than in some other parts of northern England, and this is reflected in the composition of the vegetation, which is dominated by species of cottongrass Eriophorum and a reduced cover of heather Calluna vulgaris. At Butterburn Flow the wetter climate is also emphasised by quite distinct surface patterning of Sphagnum hollows separated by Sphagnum ridges in the largest of the open areas. It is a very good example of the Sphagnum-rich cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and Sphagnum papillosum vegetation type.
  • Caenlochan Eastern Scotland, North Eastern Scotland
    Caenlochan contains extensive areas of high altitude Blanket bogs representative of the eastern Highlands of Scotland. The blanket bog belongs to the M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire community and is extensive between 700 m and 900 m altitude. Above about 800 m, where the bogs occupy an extensive high plateau, heather Calluna vulgaris is replaced by cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea and the montane dwarf-shrubs crowberry Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum and bog bilberry Vaccinium uliginosum. These montane blanket bogs show floristic affinities with mountain bogs in Scandinavia.
  • Cairngorms Highlands and Islands, North Eastern Scotland
    The Cairngorms support extensive areas of blanket bog both on the lower slopes, where it gives way to 4010 Northern Atlantic wet heath and 4030 European dry heaths as the gradient increases, and at high altitude. This contrasts with most other sites, which tend to be dominated by bogs of more limited altitudinal range. At low altitude bogs occur along valleysides and in depressions amongst the undulating glacial deposits and there are good examples of M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum blanket mire. Where bogs occur within or adjacent to 91C0 Caledonian forest, Scots pine Pinus sylvestris is often present, forming stands of 91D0 Bog woodland. These bogs are generally rich in the bog-mosses Sphagnum capillifolium and S. papillosum. On the Cairngorms blanket bog probably extends to a higher altitude than on any other SAC in the UK, around 1000 m. The bogs at higher altitude are M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire and some of these are moderately extensive on the gently sloping plateaux below the mountain tops. Above about 850 m, heather Calluna vulgaris disappears from the blanket bog and is replaced by mountain crowberry Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum and bog bilberry Vaccinium uliginosum. Dwarf birch Betula nana occurs locally in this higher-altitude bog. Lichens of the reindeer group (Cladonia arbuscula and C. rangiferina) are abundant, and the Cairngorms have some of the best examples of lichen-rich bogs.
  • Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Highlands and Islands
    The scale and diversity of the Caithness and Sutherland peatlands in northern Scotland make them unique in Europe. They form the largest peat mass in the UK and are three times larger than any other peatland area in either Britain or Ireland. The site is important because of the considerable abundance of large (several square kilometres) continuous areas of Sphagnum carpets and hummocks, including Sphagnum fuscum, S. imbricatum and S. pulchrum, and for its numerous intact pool systems. Not only are these features usually rare and localised on other bog systems in the UK, but a very high proportion of this ground remains undisturbed. The vegetation is mainly cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix with Sphagnum papillosum as well as deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire. Freshwater pools and lochans are an integral component of the mire expanse.
  • Carn nan Tri-tighearnan Highlands and Islands
    Carn nan Tri-Tighearnan lies on a plateau at more than 600 m altitude. It is an example of an upland bog in the eastern Scottish Highlands. It is characterised by cool climate conditions and extreme ‘wetness’. Dense sheets of lichen-rich blanket bog are dominated by species of reindeer-moss lichen Cladonia. Such bog is very similar in character to areas of peat formation in central and eastern Norway. Other vegetation on this site consists of a dwarf-shrub cover, beneath which can be found relatively continuous carpets of Sphagnum. Surface patterning resulting from combinations of high-ridges and hummocks is evident in many places.
  • Carn-Glenshane Pass Northern Ireland
    Carn – Glenshane Pass represents a large area of intact blanket bog within the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland. The area is characterised by undulating topography and includes a large, well-developed hummock and pool system and extensive eroding hagg complexes within a thick mantle of blanket peat. The peatland vegetation generally supports a high dwarf-shrub cover of heather Calluna vulgaris and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix together with a mixture of sedges including deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum. Bog-mosses are well-represented and include the hummock-forming species Sphagnum imbricatum and S. fuscum. Areas of flushed peat are more species-rich and include a variety of additional plants, including bog-sedge Carex limosa and dioecious sedge C. dioica.
  • Claish Moss and Kentra Moss Highlands and Islands
    Claish Moss lies along the southern shore of Loch Shiel, while neighbouring Kentra Moss opens into Kentra Bay. They are representative of a highly oceanic blanket bog type found on the north-west coast of Scotland. These are two of the only three known ‘eccentric’ mires in Britain and are selected because of the rarity of this bog form. ‘Eccentric’ bogs are characterised by spectacular surface patterns and are similar in structure to types more commonly found in central Scandinavia, generally as raised bog. The development of this type is very unusual in a blanket bog landscape and is of special interest. The species composition is very rich, with 14 Sphagnum species having been found on the site, including Sphagnum imbricatum and S. pulchrum. Other species, such as the liverwort Pleurozia purpurea and brown beak-sedge Rhynchospora fusca, reflect the strong oceanic influence on the site. Transitions to saltmarsh are a notable feature of Kentra Moss.
  • Coladoir Bog Highlands and Islands
    Coladoir Bog on Mull in the Inner Hebrides features a variety of patterned mire types, with small areas of poor fen lying between some of the peat domes. It is the most northerly site for bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia. Some of the pools support brown beak-sedge Rhynchospora fusca, and the occurrence of Sphagnum imbricatum further indicates the undisturbed nature of much of the site.
  • Cuilcagh Mountain Northern Ireland
    Cuilcagh is one of the most extensive areas of upland Blanket bogs in Northern Ireland. The area is situated at a relatively high altitude in a high rainfall area and has a wide range of features, including well-developed pool, hummock and lawn complexes, acid flushes and bog bursts. The site contains a mixture of cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix with Sphagnum papillosum and extensive areas of deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum, with a generally low cover of dwarf-shrubs. Sphagnum fuscum and S. imbricatum are present. The site also contains transitions to montane, rock and lake habitats.
  • Dartmoor Devon
    Dartmoor is the southernmost blanket bog in Europe and is representative of blanket bogs in south-west England. The main vegetation community is M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire. Many of the bogs are dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and micro-topography is poorly developed. There are also widespread peat-cuttings, dug by hand in the 19th Century, but these have revegetated and many once again support a healthy cover of Sphagnum bog-mosses. Nevertheless, good areas are frequently encountered that are very wet, support frequent and widespread Sphagnum mosses of a range of species, and display small-scale surface patterning. Of particular note is the rare Sphagnum imbricatum, which occurs at two localities.
  • Drumochter Hills Eastern Scotland, Highlands and Islands
    Drumochter has been selected for its extensive areas of blanket bog which lie not only midway between the oceanic blanket bogs of the west and the drier, more continental bogs of the eastern Grampians, but also midway along the north–south transition. The kinds of bogs represented and their surface patterns reflect this intermediate position. In the Pass of Drumochter there is the most easterly extensive occurrence of western M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire with typical species such as deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum. These low altitude bogs are generally rich in the bog-mosses Sphagnum capillifolium and S. papillosum. At higher altitudes M17 is replaced by M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire. The high altitude bogs show widespread hagging and extensive bare peat, a common phenomenon in the upland bogs in UK. Above about 800 m heather Calluna vulgaris is replaced by cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea and montane dwarf-shrubs, mainly bog bilberry Vaccinium uliginosum and crowberry Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum.
  • East Mires and Lumbister Highlands and Islands
    East Mires is one of four sites representing the wide range of variation shown by Blanket bogs in Shetland. The site has been selected for its areas of surface patterning and extensive tracts of active bog. Local areas of eroding bog show extensive secondary regeneration in the gullies and there are few areas of bare peat remaining. Of particular note in East Mires is the rare bog orchid Hammarbya paludosa, which forms a vigorous colony around the margins of a bog pool system.
  • Eilean na Muice Duibhe Highlands and Islands
    Eilean na Muice Duibhe on Islay in the Inner Hebrides occurs at low altitude on a coastal plain and contrasts with the other Islay Blanket bogs, which have different topographic features. The vegetation shows affinities to that found on many Irish bogs because species such as black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans and purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea are present, replacing species such as hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum that are more commonly found in the UK. There is a rich variety of surface patterning, from small lochs, through continuous Sphagnum lawns to many hummock-forming species. Of particular note are Sphagnum fuscum and S. imbricatum, which are frequent across this largely active blanket bog site.
  • Elenydd East Wales, West Wales and The Valleys
    Elenydd comprises the largest tract of blanket mire within the central Wales uplands. Considerable areas of the habitat display signs of modification, with impoverished vegetation dominated by grasses and with reduced amounts of dwarf shrubs and widespread bog-mosses Sphagnum spp. Areas of good quality mire are typically fragmented by species-poor vegetation dominated by purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea. However, there are extensive stands of M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum mire that contain locally abundant bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia, as well as areas of mire in which heather Calluna vulgaris and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum are dominant. Areas of hummock and hollow surface patterning are found locally.
  • Feur Lochain Highlands and Islands
    Feur Lochain at the northern end of the Rhinns of Islay in the Inner Hebrides differs from the other Islay Blanket bogs because it lies on a broad watershed ridge. It exhibits an extensive area of hummock, hollow and pool patterning and is notable for the abundance of white beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba. Marginal flushes and drainage basins with poor-fen vegetation add to the diversity of interest.
  • Flow of Dergoals South Western Scotland
    Flow of Dergoals is one of four sites representing Blanket bogs in south-west Scotland and displays well-developed surface patterning. It has distinct hollows with Sphagnum cuspidatum, though these are quite small and represent a comparatively small proportion of the bog surface. It is more generally dominated by a combination of low-ridge and high-ridge, with occasional Sphagnum hummocks and bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia. The carpet is dominated by Sphagnum magellanicum and S. papillosum rather than S. tenellum.
  • Garron Plateau Northern Ireland
    Garron is the most extensive area of intact upland Blanket bogs in Northern Ireland. The peatland complex is composed of a series of raised and flushed peat bog units and a number of oligotrophic lakes. There are large areas of well-developed bog microtopography, with a mixture of cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum, with a generally high cover of dwarf-shrubs and Sphagnum papillosum, S. fuscum and S. imbricatum. It is the main Irish location for both few-flowered sedge Carex pauciflora and tall bog-sedge C. magellanica. The areas of flushed peat are extremely rich floristically, with black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans and brown mosses. The site contains the only Northern Ireland populations of the Annex II species 1528 Marsh saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus and bog orchid Hammarbya paludosa.
  • Glac na Criche Highlands and Islands
    Glac na Criche, in Islay, Inner Hebrides, contrasts with the other Islay Blanket bogs in having a much more complex topography, giving rise to watershed, valleyside and valley mires. Areas of mineral flushing on this site are more species-rich than at neighbouring Feur Lochain, while truly ombrotrophic areas also support significant amounts of black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans, presumably in response to salt spray from the sea cliffs below.
  • Hascosay Highlands and Islands
    Hascosay is one of the few remaining un-eroded pool systems in Shetland. The blanket bog on Hascosay is remarkably intact and supports a range of shallow mud-bottomed, as opposed to Sphagnum-filled, hollows. A particular feature of this site is the dominance of the moss Mnium hornum, often accompanied by Aulacomnium palustre around the margins of bog pools. This combination of features is unusual in the UK. Sphagnum fuscum adds to the diversity of the community and is indicative of the undamaged nature of the bog.
  • Hoy Highlands and Islands
    Despite its island setting, the extensive blanket bog on Hoy, dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris and hare’s-tail cotton-grass Eriophorum vaginatum, is akin to the more continental bogs found in the drier parts of the mainland, although more typically oceanic communities do occur locally. Lichen-rich blanket bog with Cladonia spp. is characteristic of higher parts of the site. In addition to pool systems and areas of extensive bog-moss Sphagnum cover, the site supports numerous peat mounds, a feature typical of, but local within, northern blanket bogs.
  • Inverasdale Peatlands Highlands and Islands
    This relatively low-altitude site lies on a large peninsula in Wester Ross. Watershed and valley side mires dominate the area and include several areas of pronounced surface patterning. The oceanic nature of the site is reflected in the vegetation which includes both white and brown beak sedges Rhynchospora alba and R. fusca, respectively. Extensive Sphagnum cover, including hummocks of Sphagnum imbricatum and S. fuscum, indicates a general absence of disturbance.
  • Inverpolly Highlands and Islands
    Extensive blanket bog forms part of a characteristic suite of habitats associated with Lewisian knob and lochan topography. Inverpolly is representative of Blanket bogs in a wet, cool, oceanic climate. The largest extent consists of the western M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, occupying much of the extensive flat and lower-lying ground. At higher altitudes smaller tracts of an oceanic form of M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire also occur. The complex of mires on the site is similar to that on Rannoch Moor, with gradations between blanket mire and wet heath on shallower peat, wet valley bog in hollows and soligenous mires where seepage through the peat occurs. The oceanic bogs are characterised by high bog-moss Sphagnum spp. cover and the occurrence of deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, bog myrtle Myrica gale, white beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba and great sundew Drosera anglica. The large Atlantic liverwort Pleurozia purpurea, a characteristic species of north-western bogs, is abundant. On the wettest flats the bog is semi-floating with bog-mosses Sphagnum dominating and pools with a rich flora including bog-sedge Carex limosa, many-stalked spike-rush Eleocharis multicaulis and lesser bladderwort Utricularia minor. One such area within M17 forms an outstanding example of oceanic valley mire.
  • Kilhern Moss South Western Scotland
    This upland site is one of four sites representing Blanket bogs in south-west Scotland. It is dominated by extensive wet flats of Sphagnum and is floristically very distinctive. It is dominated by the rare pool-edge bog-moss Sphagnum pulchrum in a virtually mono-specific sward. Plants common within the moss lawn include great sundew Drosera anglica, bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia and cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccos.
  • Kirkcowan Flow South Western Scotland
    Kirkcowan Flow is the largest of the four relicts of the former flow-ground in south-west Scotland and is most representative of this geographic region. The site contains a number of features not found on the other three sites, including extensive surface patterning with Sphagnum cuspidatum hollows. The core of the site displays a mixture of partially-patterned watershed bog and extensive flushed slopes very similar to Feur Lochain on Islay.
  • Ladder Hills Highlands and Islands, North Eastern Scotland
    Lying to the north-east of the Cairngorms, Ladder Hills is perhaps the most continental site in terms of the nature of its blanket bog. This extensive area of high-altitude bog is dominated by the M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire community with abundant Cladonia lichens. The upland nature of the site is also apparent from the abundance of cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus. Small cranberry Vaccinium microcarpum is also present.
  • Lake District High Fells Cumbria
    Lake District High Fells represents blanket bog in north-west England. Blanket bogs are generally scarce in the cSAC as there is so little flat land where peat can form; however there are relatively extensive areas of blanket bog in a number of the component SSSI (Armboth Fells, Shap Fells and Skiddaw Group) with smaller areas in Buttermere Fells and Birk Fell. The main NVC type present is M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire but M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum raised and blanket bog is also present at Shap Fells and M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire is found in Buttermere Fells. Much of the bog is dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum with varying amounts of cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, deer-grass Trichophorum cespitosum and crowberry Empetrum nigrum. There are often carpets of Sphagnum and Sphagnum-filled hollows with species such as S. papillosum and S. magellanicum. Other species found locally in the bogs include bog rosemary Andromeda polifolia and cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus, particularly on the higher ground. On some bogs purple moor grass Molinia caerulea and bog myrtle Myrica gale can be locally abundant and are typical of bogs in the western part of their range. The site also has transitions to many other upland habitats including dry heath, rock and lake habitats.
  • Lewis Peatlands Highlands and Islands
    This extensive area of blanket bog represents the second-largest expanse of this habitat in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. With their north-westerly and island location, the Lewis Peatlands are probably the most extremely ‘Atlantic’ of all the blanket mires in the UK and indeed Europe. The vegetation is predominantly, though not exclusively, of the M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire type, with purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum often dominant and accompanied by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bell heather E. cinerea and the western bryophytes Campylopus atrovirens and Pleurozia purpurea. One particularly characteristic feature is the widespread occurrence of the woolly fringe-moss Racomitrium lanuginosum. Although this species is quite common as a hummock-former in northern and western blanket bogs, particularly in areas of peat erosion where it caps the remaining peat haggs, it is only in the extreme north-west that it forms extensive carpets, a niche which elsewhere is the preserve of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp. A mosaic of bog habitats is present including pools, depressions and small lochans with wet and dry heath on intervening knolls. A number of oligotrophic lochs lie within the site as well as the headwaters of numerous small rivers and streams.
  • Merrick Kells South Western Scotland
    Merrick Kells is the most southerly of the characteristic oceanic Blanket bogs in the west of Scotland. It has an exceptionally wet climate, reflected in the range of pool patterns, from watershed mire to valleyside flow, and in the vegetation. There is a relatively high cover of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp., particularly S. papillosum, but S. magellanicum is also abundant and the site is noted for its frequent sward of S. pulchrum. Bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia occurs infrequently.
  • Migneint-Arenig-Dduallt West Wales and The Valleys
    Migneint and Dduallt mark the limits of a large upland block located along the eastern fringe of Snowdonia National Park. The site supports the largest area of blanket bog in north Wales after Berwyn and is particularly significant for the extent and quality of comparatively Sphagnum-rich M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire. M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum blanket mire is also widespread, with localised representation of the bog-moss Sphagnum magellanicum and, rarely, S. imbricatum ssp. affine. Other notable species found at the site include lesser twayblade Listera cordata, tall bog-sedge Carex magellanica and few-flowered sedge C. pauciflora, here approaching the southern limit of its British distribution. The significant representation of more degraded vegetation types, including M20 Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, attests to a long history of anthropogenic modification including burning, grazing and moor-gripping – significant parts of the site were formerly managed as grouse moor. Large areas of dry and wet heath are also present, while soligenous mire communities feature as widespread and extensive components of the blanket mire.
  • Mochrum Lochs South Western Scotland
    This lowland site in south-west Scotland has a small, vigorously-growing area of blanket bog, but unlike other sites in this geographic region, the surface features are generally flat rather than hummocks and hollows. Vegetation is dominated in places either by Sphagnum tenellum or, in the drier areas, by S. capillifolium, with a range of plants typical of healthy bog growth including S. magellanicum, S. papillosum, bog-rosemary Andromeda polifolia, white beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba and cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccos.
  • Moidach More Highlands and Islands
    Moidach More is representative of Blanket bogs in the eastern Scottish Highlands. Although it lies at almost 300 m, it is a low-altitude example and complements Carn nan Tri-Tighearnan, which has a higher cover of lichens. Of major interest on this site is the surface patterning, which consists of soft, low hummocks and shallow hollows or water-filled pools and is not known to occur elsewhere in Grampian. While the hummocks contain the bog-mosses Sphagnum fuscum and S. imbricatum, the hollows are dominated by S. cuspidatum. Scots pines Pinus sylvestris are present in one area. Other species include small cranberry Vaccinium microcarpum and the rare moss Dicranum undulatum. Areas of wet and dry heath are also found, particularly on the adjacent hill slopes.
  • Mointeach nan Lochain Dubha Highlands and Islands
    Mointeach nan Lochain Dubha is one of two Blanket bog sites on Skye in the Inner Hebrides. The bog lies at the headwaters of a number of rivers and burns and displays a range of linear and rounded pool-patterning, although it lacks the extreme flushing of lower Sligachan Glen in the Sligachan Peatlands. The vegetation includes a rich cover and variety of Sphagnum, including an abundance of the rare Sphagnum pulchrum as well as S. fuscum and S. imbricatum.
  • Mointeach Scadabhaigh Highlands and Islands
    Mointeach Scadabhaigh in the Outer Hebrides represents the largest expanse in the UK of Blanket bogs containing ombrotrophic vegetation with black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans, a species which is normally dependent upon mineral-enriched groundwater. Bogs of this type have a very limited distribution in the UK and represent the extreme western fringe of Blanket bogs in Europe. There are only three known examples of this type, the others being on Islay and in Sutherland, and the surface at this site is the most clearly ombrotrophic of the three. The undamaged nature of this site is indicated by the widespread occurrence of Sphagnum imbricatum, S. magellanicum and S. fuscum.
  • Monadhliath Highlands and Islands
    Monadhliath supports one of the most extensive areas of high-altitude blanket bog in the UK. It is also relatively remote from the sea and thus contrasts with the numerous areas of oceanic blanket bog. Lichen-rich bog with Cladonia spp. is extensive on the high plateau. A significant proportion of the bog is eroded, with extensive areas of gullying. The vegetation reflects the high altitude, with species including woolly hair-moss Racomitrium lanuginosum, mountain crowberry Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum and bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus.
  • Moor House - Upper Teesdale Cumbria, Tees Valley and Durham
    This site in the northern Pennines represents Blanket bogs in the north of England. The site includes the least damaged and most extensive tracts of typical M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire in England and shows this community type up to its highest altitude in England. This large expanse of peat displays the full range of features typical of the Pennines, with extensive erosion, mainly on higher areas, interspersed with large swathes of bog dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris or cottongrasses Eriophorum spp. A few areas display small-scale surface patterning, with distinct Sphagnum hollows and intervening ridges. Some parts of the site show characteristics of the western-type Scottish Blanket bogs, whereas the lichen-rich areas are a feature of bogs in Fennoscandia.
  • Moorfoot Hills Eastern Scotland
    Most of the blanket bog in southern Scotland is in the wetter west, but the Moorfoot Hills represent the much drier, eastern aspect of the range of variation of the habitat. The site supports extensive areas of intact M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire with numerous examples of surface-patterning, including pool systems together with erosion gullies, many of which have re-vegetated. The bog-moss Sphagnum capillifolium is particularly widespread and the abundance of cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus and occurrence of Cladonia spp. lichens reflects the relatively high altitude of the site.
  • North Pennine Moors Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley and Durham
    The North Pennine Moors hold the major area of blanket bog in England. A significant proportion remains active with accumulating peat, although these areas are often bounded by sizeable zones of currently non-active bog, albeit on deep peat. The main NVC type is M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, but there is also representation of M18 Erica tetralixSphagnum papillosum blanket mire and some western localities support M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire. Forms of M20 Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire predominate on many areas of non-active bog.
  • Pettigoe Plateau Northern Ireland
    Pettigoe is the only extensive lowland area of blanket bog in Northern Ireland. The site contains a large number of well-developed pool complexes, frequent acid flushes and basin mires. The vegetation is a mixture of generally Sphagnum-rich mire with cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and Sphagnum papillosum, with extensive areas in which deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum are dominant. A notable floristic feature is the abundance of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans on the bog plain, a characteristic feature of hyper-oceanic lowland Blanket bogs. The rare bog-mosses Sphagnum fuscum, S. imbricatum and S. pulchrum occur on the site. Species such as intermediate bladderwort Utricularia intermedia and oblong-leaved sundew Drosera intermedia are abundant here but are generally absent from other Blanket bogs in Northern Ireland.
  • Rannoch Moor Eastern Scotland, Highlands and Islands
    Rannoch Moor lies in a high-level basin at about 300 m altitude. Its central location in Scotland is reflected in the gradient of variation in vegetation types that occurs across it. In the west of the site the vegetation has a high proportion of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, but further east this decreases while the proportion of woody dwarf-shrubs rises. Rannoch is a complex Blanket bog because much of the active peat is broken up between rocky knolls and small valleys, and there are many small ladder fens, which separate the ombrotrophic units into relatively small compartments. This is the only site in Britain at which Rannoch-rush Scheuchzeria palustris is found.
  • Ronas Hill - North Roe Highlands and Islands
    North Roe represents a distinctive blanket bog type found only in the far north of Scotland, where there is a sub-arctic oceanic climate. The bog type is characterised by large peat mounds, and all stages of mound development can be seen at this site, ranging from early formation, to domes of several metres high, through to collapsed examples and finally crater-pool formations.
  • Slieve Beagh Northern Ireland
    Slieve Beagh is one of the most extensive areas of intact blanket bog in Northern Ireland. It contains a comparatively large area of a mixture of generally Sphagnum-rich mire vegetation with cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and Sphagnum papillosum, together with deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum with high dwarf-shrub cover. It is less markedly oceanic than other Northern Ireland sites but has some limited areas of surface patterning
  • Sligachan Peatlands Highlands and Islands
    Sligachan is one of two sites on Skye representing two unusual and distinct mire types. Sligachan displays an enormous variety of blanket bog features. The southern half of the site consists of a series of valleyside flows interspersed with flushed blanket mire communities. The high base-status of the water means that the blanket bog vegetation of this southern part is extremely rich, containing species such as black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans and broad-leaved cottongrass Eriophorum latifolium and brown mosses such as Drepanocladus spp. The northern part of the site is a broad valley forming a mire complex with extensive areas of pool patterning of a linear type. Slightly more broken ground is largely infilled with accumulated peat and has several unusual peat structures, such as dams of peat over 2 m high that hold back large pools containing pipewort Eriocaulon aquaticum, small examples of ladder fens and oddly-shaped pool patterns.
  • South Pennine Moors Cheshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire
    This site represents blanket bog in the south Pennines, the most south-easterly occurrence of the habitat in Europe. The bog vegetation communities are botanically poor. Hare’s-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum is often overwhelmingly dominant and the usual bog-building Sphagnum mosses are scarce. Where the blanket peats are slightly drier, heather Calluna vulgaris, crowberry Empetrum nigrum and bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus become more prominent. The uncommon cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus is locally abundant in bog vegetation. Bog pools provide diversity and are often characterised by common cottongrass E. angustifolium. Substantial areas of the bog surface are eroding, and there are extensive areas of bare peat. In some areas erosion may be a natural process reflecting the great age (9000 years) of the south Pennine peats.
  • Strathglass Complex Highlands and Islands
    Strathglass Complex encompasses much of the east–west gradient that occurs in blanket bog north of the Great Glen. Both wet, oceanic M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire and the drier, more upland M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire occur extensively. Bog vegetation is at its most extensive on the lower slopes of these high hills, extending up glacial troughs and in to high corries and on to ridges. The blanket bog grades into a diversity of heathlands and grasslands on the better-drained upper slopes. The wetter M17 blanket mire forms part of typical west Highland complexes of bog, wet heath and dry heath but, unusually, also occurs within 91C0 Caledonian forest. At high altitudes Calluna vulgaris in M19 is replaced by other dwarf-shrubs such as crowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea, cowberry Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum and bog bilberry Vaccinium uliginosum. Notably, these include the scarce dwarf birch Betula nana and alpine bearberry Arctostaphylos alpinus at one of their few known locations in blanket bog outside Ben Wyvis.
  • Teal Lough Northern Ireland
    Teal Lough is comparatively small but contains an exceptionally well-developed microtopography with the most extensive pool system found in Northern Ireland. The habitat is similar to Hebridean Blanket bogs with abundant lesser bladderwort Utricularia minor and oblong-leaved sundew Drosera intermedia. The rare hummock-forming bog-mosses Sphagnum fuscum and S. imbricatum also occur on the site.
  • Tingon Highlands and Islands
    Tingon demonstrates diversity of its surface patterning, erosion and other mire features, which cover a substantial tract of ground on the Tingon peninsula. Peat mounds are also a feature of the site. The vegetation is dominated by cottongrasses Eriophorum spp., heather Calluna vulgaris, deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and bog-mosses Sphagnum spp.
  • West Fannyside Moss South Western Scotland
    Habitat occurrence description not yet available.

SACs where this Annex I habitat is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.

Please note that the map shows sites where the presence of a feature is classed as ‘grade d’, but these sites are not listed. This is because ‘grade d’ indicates a non-significant presence.