In the late summer and autumn dry heaths
present a riot of colour, with a mass of gold, pink and purple
flowers from the western gorse, common heather and bell heather
that characterise them.
Dry heath is by far the most extensive type of heathland in
lowland Wales, with approximately 8,900 hectares recorded during
the Phase I survey. Most dry heath is distinguished by the presence
– often dominance – of western gorse, which is a shorter, less
robust relation of the better-known European gorse. Most of the dry
heath in Wales occurs on acidic soils, low in nutrients, and is
called acid heath. There are areas of acidic dry heath in many
locations along the Pembrokeshire and Anglesey coasts.
A rarer form of dry heath, known as limestone heath, occurs on
calcareous soils. Limestone heaths are usually species-rich
habitats. They contain flowers more often found in limestone
grassland, such as rock rose, dropwort, salad burnet and thyme.
In North Wales, you’ll find limestone heath on the Conwy coast,
on the east side of Anglesey and in Flintshire and Denbighshire.
One of the best places to visit to see limestone heath is the Great
Orme Country Park and Local Nature Reserve, near Llandudno. In
South Wales, look out for limestone heaths on the Gower and
Most of the dry heath in West Wales is concentrated around
Pembrokeshire, Anglesey and Gwynedd, with much of this being in the
coastal belt or within a few miles of the coast. The diagram below
shows the area of dry heath that has been surveyed for each Unitary