There was a piece in yesterday's Guardian
about the fact that nearly half of the Ancient Woodland in the UK has disappeared in the last eighty years. Even having the environmental designation doesn't completely protect it either; several hundred woods are threatened by road development or housing. The Woodland Trust have a map of threatened sites
, including a couple near us, and many others in the county.
For me, this underlines the importance of looking after and protecting all the special environmental designations in the parish. And as we know, there are loads of such areas
. There is a question about this in the questionnaire that the parish council have circulated and it will be interesting to see how people view our woodland and special environments.
Ever keen to explore them, I walked towards the south west on Saturday, intending to get to the far corner of the parish, but got sidetracked on the way. Initially, it was the mosses that slowed me down.
Common Haircap (Polytrichum commune)
This is certainly a common moss, but though they can be difficult to tell apart (see an introduction at the British Bryological Society
), our local area is home to an impressive range of species, some of which are relatively rare. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee hosts some useful data about local biodiversity. From the page on Ashdown Forest
you can get the boundary map of the area and a list of species (not just mosses).
After getting distracted by moss and losing the path, I crossed the iron-rich river Kid:
then continued through the beech woods
including this cascade of fungi:
I then crossed Priory Road and followed the woods, going along the ancient pale of the Forest:
The pale was punctuated by a number of gates and hatches, many of which are still discernable. This is Mudbrooks Gate, deep in the corner of the Forest:
A little further on I picked up the footpath again, through the far end of Legsheath Farm, past the rather special Mudbrooks House
with its tall chimneys, and then past the pigs at Spring Hill:
Finally back towards the village past South Park
, the big seventeenth century farmhouse:
Worth remembering that all this area is only a short hop and a skip from the part of the parish where a notional relief road would go should it come out south of the village. And as we can see from the environmental designations in the area (see map in my earlier blog
), any route you look at would take a road straight through a bit of Ancient Woodland. We need to protect them for sure.