Bluebells and pleasing sights

Members of the Highwoods Preservation Society enjoy a Spring walk
Members of the Highwoods Preservation Society enjoy a Spring walk
Share this article

There were Bluebells aplenty to be enjoyed when Highwoods Preservation Society staged its annual Spring Flower Walk on Saturday.

But under the leadership of the society’s sharp-eyed woodland warden Alan Dengate there was much else to please the eye as well.

The Wood Anemones which carpeted the Highwoods a couple of weeks ago have given way to an array of seasonal colour - Wood Sorrel, Violets, Yellow Archangel, Dog Mercury and Wild Garlic.

There are even a couple of apple trees in blossom in the woods at the moment.

A mixed party of HPS members and visitors enjoyed a morning which included sightings of Jays, Blue Tits, Wood Pigeons, Robins and a Black Cap. Sadly, the Tree Creepers and Nuthatches which are so often seen in the woods were not in evidence for the visitors.

There was also a modest little bloom on the Butchers Broom which is a feature of the Highwoods. Slow-growing Butchers Broom is a significant factor in determining whether an area qualifies as ancient woodland – defined by Natural England as having been established more than 400 years.

The leisurely stroll round some of the 87-acres also included an account of the charity’s work in maintaining the Highwoods on behalf of Rother District Council as a wildlife habitat with free public access.

The walk began along the Janet Baker Trail, an access-for-all footpath created with the aid of a generous legacy.

Alan Dengate showed how the society’s work is maintaining areas of both wet heath and dry heath. He showed how invasive non-native rhododendrons have been cleared and equally invasive Silver Birch saplings removed.

He also showed how Nature can undo the volunteers’ work. A heavy rainstorm in January brought so much water down the stream which runs through the ghyll that a dam that work party members had built burst. The pond emptied and was then filled with silt.