Sussex - high summer in southern England
This short break takes us from summer grasslands to the heath, bog and woodland of Ashdown Forest, in search of wild flowers, butterflies and dragonflies.
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 Nightjars. We will also visit some of the glorious meadows and ghyll woodland of the Sussex High Weald.
A visit to the coast will take us to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to spend time amongst its saltmarsh, reedbed and vegetated shingle banks. The reserve has nesting Little Terns, Avocets, Wheatears and Mediterranean Gulls, among many others, and the coastline here is home to specialist plants such as Sea Pea, Rock Samphire and Sea Spurge that thrive among the shingle.
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.
Our visit 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.
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.
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 this evening at our hotel in time for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together.
Day 2 We head to Knepp Wildland, where we should find Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcaps aplenty, hopefully alongside Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Nightingale. There will be time to hear more about the rewilding project itself and to look for some of its key players, which include rootling Tamworth pigs, Longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies and Red Deer. Our afternoon is spent in Ashdown Forest, home to internationally important heathland habitat. We should find a different set of birds here, including Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Siskin and Dartford Warbler. We will also keep an eye out for some of the special dragonflies and damselflies found in the Forest, including Small Red Damselfly, Brilliant Emerald, Keeled Skimmer and Golden Ringed Dragonfly.
Day 3 We travel south to South Downs National Park to spend time discovering wild flowers, whilst we look out for some of the special butterflies of the area including Adonis Blue, Grizzled Skipper and Small Blue. We will also visit Lullington 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.
Day 4 We head east to Rye Harbour, which contains extensive wetland and coastal habitats. On the shingle, Little Terns and Ringed Plovers are nesting and the specialist plants of this habitat including Sea Kale and Sea Pea, will be starting to flower. Nearby Castle Water includes a series of restored gravel pits, now home to Bearded Tits, Cetti’s Warblers and Water Voles. On sunny days some interesting solitary bees and wasps can be found nesting in the light soils around the reserve.
Day 5 One final breakfast, and then it is time to bid farewell to Buxted, hopefully taking some good memories of the diverse 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 Old Tollgate Hotel in the village of Bramber site of an old staging post. 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 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 mild 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 keeping to the government’s rules on social distancing for this trip, with the final group size dependent on those rules at the time of the holiday.
We will ask travellers to wear face coverings while on the bus, and will ensure there is plenty of space to enable social distancing, with hand sanitiser available at all times.
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. 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.