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.
1st – 5th July 2024
To be confirmed
Five nights accommodation, half board. Local transport and entry fees as specified in itinerary.
Travel to Buxted. Refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance. Covid tests and associated costs.
Minimum 4, maximum 14.
Our base for the holiday will be the village of Buxted, ideally located in the picturesque High Weald of East Sussex.
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, before walking through 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 Wall Lizards found here.
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 East Sussex village of Buxted 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.
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 We explore the internationally important heathland of Ashdown Forest where we should find birds including Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Siskin and the perky little Dartford Warbler. We will keep an eye out for some of the special dragonflies and damselflies found in the forest, and there should be plenty of interesting plants to spot.
Day 5 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. We will then 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 6 One final breakfast, then it is time to bid farewell to Buxted, 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.