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Sussex – spring in southern England

This short break will introduce us to the beautiful county of Sussex and the best of its spring wildlife.

Our base for the week will be in the attractive village of Bramber nestling at the foot of the South Downs and centrally located for exploring the wildlife of the county.

During our explorations we will visit the important wetlands at Amberley Wildbrooks home to a huge array of plants, as well as interesting birds and invertebrates.

We will also take in an extensive area of chalk grassland at Castle Hill, home to a strong population of Early Spider-orchids. Exploration of some of the county’s ancient woodland as well as the important heathland habitat at Ashdown Forest are also included.

Our visit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Knepp Wildland, an interesting rewildling project in the heart of the county where we will find out more about the approach being used for conservation here and experience some of the growing number of species that are calling the estate home.

During some early mornings and evenings there will be opportunities for excursions to listen for the diverse repertoire of the Nightingale, as well as searching for foraging Barn Owls and bats, or listening to the dawn(ish) chorus, which is reaching its prime at this time of year.

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The holiday has been designed to give us an opportunity to experience the diversity of Sussex’s habitats and look for a good range of wild flowers, birds, butterflies and other wildlife along the way in the mid-spring.

Dates

27 April – 1 May 2020

Leader

Laurie Jackson

Price

£785

Single Room Supplement – £165

Included

Four nights’ accommodation, half board. Local transport as specified in itinerary.

Not included

Travel to Bramber, lunch, drinks with meals. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Group size

Minimum 4, maximum 13.

Day 1 We will meet this evening at our hotel in time for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together. Depending on the weather, we will visit a local nature reserve to listen for Nightingales.

Day 2 We visit Amberley Wildbrooks, part of the Arun Valley Special Protection Area, an area of wet grassland crisscrossed by ditches that is important for its wintering wildfowl, breeding waders and rare ditch invertebrates. An interesting array of wetland plants can be found and we hope to see early dragonflies, a range of birds and perhaps a Water Vole. We continue west to Rewell Wood where we hope to find Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Our day will also include a visit to Kithurst Hill, giving us an opportunity to catch up with spring species such as Duke of Burgundy, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak and Wall.

Day 3 We visit Castle Hill National Nature Reserve, where we will search for the petite Early Spider-orchid. Our afternoon will be spent at the beautiful Loder Valley Nature Reserve, part of Wakehurst Place with woodlands and meadows set around Ardingly Reservoir.

Day 4 We will have an earlier start to visit Knepp Wildland, where free-roaming grazing animals are being used as part of a process-led approach to habitat restoration. At this time of year the migrant birds will have started streaming in, and we should find Lesser Whitethroat, Nightingale, Garden Warbler, Cuckoo and perhaps even an early arriving Turtle Dove. Our final afternoon will be spent at Old Lodge in the heart of the Ashdown Forest, where we should find a different set of birds, including Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Dartford Warbler.

Day 5 One final breakfast, and an optional stroll to Beeding Brooks to look for birds then it is time to bid farewell to Bramber, hopefully taking some good memories of the diverse spring wildlife of Sussex.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders.

We will be based at the Old Tolgate Hotel in the village of Bramber. All rooms are en-suite.

Dinners are included in the price and we will buy packed lunches or visit tearooms for lunch during our daily expeditions.

Our transport for this trip will be by a small 16-seater coach/minibus.

Travel to Bramber is not included in this holiday. Bramber is located near the A283, just to the east of the town of Steyning. If travelling by train we can arrange for a taxi from Shoreham-by-Sea or Hassocks (cost not included)

The English weather is of course anything but predictable. We should expect warm conditions, although colder, wetter weather is always possible. We will not walk for long in hot or adverse weather conditions. Evenings and early mornings may feel chillier.

We will be walking for much of the day, each day, albeit at a slow pace and never covering any great distance. This includes areas of rougher ground and some slopes, and the ground at Amberley can be boggy. In some locations ‘facilities’ are scarce! You therefore need to have a reasonably good level of fitness although none of the walks are strenuous. There are likely to be steps at the hotel.