Heathland and Bog


Like most of Northern Ireland’s mountains, the highest parts of the Belfast Hills are topped by a mosaic of upland heath and blanket bog. The thin peat and acid soils support plants which specialize in surviving in these difficult habitats. Many hollows are waterlogged most of the year and form a blanket of mosses such as sphagnum and flowering plants such as bog cotton and bog asphodel. You can also find carnivorous plants such as sundews and butterwort. Hillocks as small as a few inches above the water give other plants a chance to establish. Bell heather and bilberry, along with small bog pools, give a wonderful mosaic appearance in late summer and autumn. The summits, dominated by heather, are home to the very occasional red grouse. Birds of prey such as merlin and hen harrier hunt skylarks and meadow pipits nesting in the heathland.