Bluebells and pleasing sights

Members of the Highwoods Preservation Society enjoy a Spring walk
Members of the Highwoods Preservation Society enjoy a Spring walk

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.