Sussex - high summer in southern England
This short break takes us from rolling chalk downland to the heath, bog and woodland of Ashdown Forest, in search of wild flowers, butterflies and dragonflies.
3 – 7 July 2022
Single Room Supplement – £185
Four nights ’ accommodation, half board. Local transport as specified in the itinerary. Entrance fees as specified in the itinerary.
Travel to Bramber. Refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
Minimum 5, maximum 14.
Our base for the week will be the attractive village of Bramber nestling at the foot of the South Downs.
Our explorations take us to the important heathland of Ashdown Forest, home to rare plants and insects, along with a fantastic assemblage of birds including Common Redstarts, Dartford Warblers and Woodlarks.
We will also visit the South Downs National Park, which at this time of year should be full of colour from the rich chalk grassland flora. On the coast, we visit Seaford Head, with stunning views of the iconic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, and check out the saltmarshes of nearby Cuckmere Haven.
During a visit to the vegetated shingle at Shoreham Beach where we will look for specialist plants including some exciting local rarities, as well as the colony of Wall Lizards.
Our holiday wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Knepp Wildland, an interesting rewilding 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; all during the height of Purple Emperor season.
This 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.
Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
Day 1 Our holiday starts in the village of Bramber where we will meet at our hotel in time for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together.
Day 2 We travel toward South Downs National Park and the iconic cliffs of the Seven Sisters. We start our day at Seaford Head, where we should see good displays of wild flowers including Musk Mallow, Common Centaury and Thrift, along with a range of summer butterflies. Kittiwakes and Fulmar nest on the cliffs here, and amongst the scrub we should spot Linnets, Stonechats and a selection of warblers. We gradually descend into the Cuckmere Valley, where plants such as Greater Sea-spurrey, Sea Aster and Common Sea Lavender grow in the intertidal habitats, and we will look out for waders probing the mud for morsels. Heading back west, we explore the vegetated shingle at Shoreham Beach. Plants here include Biting Stonecrop, Yellow Horned-poppy and Sea Kale, and we will also be on the look out for Wall Lizard at one of its three Sussex colonies.
Day 3 We explore a different side of the National Park as we take a walk to Lullingon Heath, home to one of the largest extents of chalk heath habitat in Britain. The chalk and acidic deposits here produce an interesting mix of plants including heathers and Tormentil, alongside typical chalk grassland species. We will be out in the Downs most of the day and walking around four miles, enjoying views over Friston Forest and out to the sea.
Day 4 This morning we visit Knepp Wildland, an exciting conservation project using free-roaming grazing animals as part of a process-led approach to habitat restoration. At this time of year migrant birds will have streamed into Knepp, and we should find Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcaps aplenty, hopefully alongside Turtle Dove and Nightingale. There will be time to hear more about the rewilding project itself, and we will spend some time searching the treetops for the magnificent Purple Emperor. Our afternoon will be spent in the heart of the Ashdown Forest, home to internationally important heathland habitats. We should find different birds here, including Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Siskin and the perky little Dartford Warbler. Around the pools and wetter areas, we will keep an eye out for some of the special dragonflies and damselflies found here, and there should be interesting plants to spot.
Day 5 One final breakfast, then it is time to bid farewell to Bramber, hopefully taking some good memories of the diverse summer wildlife of Sussex.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
We will be based at the Castle Inn 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.
If you would like to extend your stay in Sussex, we can book extra nights accommodation at the hotel, and give advice on good places to visit.
Travel to Bramber
The holiday starts and finishes at our accommodation in Bramber.
You can reach Burgess Hill or Shoreham-by-Sea by train, from where you can travel by bus to Bramber. Alternatively you can reach Hassocks by train, from there you would need to take a taxi to Bramber.
Bramber lies around a mile east of Steyning, off the A283.
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. None of the walks are strenuous, but (light) walking boots are essential. In some locations ‘facilities’ are scarce! You therefore need to have a reasonably good level of fitness. There are likely to be steps at the hotel.