For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Protecting Sussex Downland flowers

Local MP Caroline Lucas is championing one of Sussex’s best loved wildflowers, our iconic 'Pride of Sussex' flower of the South Downs .
She appreciates that it is vital to restore and protect chalk grassland, home to the round-headed rampion and so many other wonderful flowering plants.
Doing their bit in conservation on Friday 1st September 2017 were seven volunteers with "The Friends of Wolstonbury" lead by National Trust Ranger, Mike Botterill.
Above, Derek, a stalwart of the group, heading to an overgrown area of Elderflower, Hawthorn and a very large Sycamore tree, which, if left unchecked would choke Downland plant species.
​​Above Hilary, Margaret and Derek, after clearing the hillside scrub and felled tree above, which was burnt in one enormous bonfire.
It was a great team effort today and much was achieved.
It is a great pleasure to work at one's own pace, enjoy convivial company, the exercise and do our bit to protect this unique habitat.
Thanks to sensitive grazing by cattle, sheep and the work of the National Trust Rangers and volunteers with "The Friends of Wolstonbury" this hill is ablaze with the blues of scabious and "Pride of Sussex" flowers."
As an antidote for depression or high blood pressure, a day spent volunteering with The Friends of Wolstonbury works wonders for both physical and mental well being.
Details of how to join this happy band is at
All tools and gloves are provided... and tea and chocolate biscuits too.
Wolstonbury Hill welcomes you.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Colourful green and brown crab spider in a Sussex garden.

This colourful spider came into my kitchen with some hazel nuts.  Crab spiders are amazing with colour combinations matching their plant or flower location.
For two years I have taken a special interest in spiders and created an illustrated talk, which is described at

Cuckfield vineyards walk, about 5 miles.

The High Weald landscape trail  is a long distance path which passes through Cuckfield in West Sussex.  The Sussex landscape is changing as arable, sheep and cattle farming are replaced by vineyards.
It is this extraordinary change in land use that prompts me to share this walk with you. It is an easy walk to navigate.  From Cuckfield take the High Weald landscape trail (HWLT) westwards, with great views to the South Downs and Wolstonbury Hill, to Deaks Lane.
View to the South Downs

Wolstonbury Hill zoomed in.
At Deaks Lane turn left down the hill past the Cattery and turn right up a track, which continues as the HWLT.  in a couple of hundred meters the landscape changes dramatically.

You are now in the c.100 acres of Pookchurch vineyard
Take the footpath through the vineyard and a wood to Broxmead Lane.  There turn right up the hill and under the canopy of a magnificent chestnut tree, which sheds yummy chestnuts on the road in some years.  At Broxmead a footpath to the right takes you through more vineyards to Deaks Lane.
(If you come to a locked gate you have missed the public footpath which dives off through the hedge, a few meters behind you, to Deaks lane alongside houses and gardens.)

As you leave Broxmead Lane
Walking eastwards along this track, Cuckfield church appears of the skyline.
View to Cuckfield church

View to Cuckfield church
As you get near to Cuckfield a detour into New England Wood is an option, emerging on a higher path above the HWLT with more fine views to the South Downs.

Chanctonbury Hill
Click on any picture to enlarge it.  A guide is not needed for this uncomplicated stroll.
Unfortunately, this path is now getting overgrown since I stopped regularly clearing it.
Please see
for the situation in 2011.
How wonderful it would be if other Cuckfield residents now assumed path clearing of this beautiful trail.  Local and long distance walkers would be grateful.
For other, specialised walks, please see

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