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Chalk Escarpments & Foot-slopes

This long, linear area stretches east from the River Adur to Beachy Head. Its north-facing escarpment has a steep, distinctive chalk edge and dramatic ridgeline. The South Downs Way follows the ridgeline, giving walkers far-reaching views across the Weald below.

The hillsides are deeply ridged and on the lower slopes a patchwork of hedgerow-edged fields unfolds. On the foot-slopes below the scarp, streams trickle through the chalk and flow north in hidden valleys. Underhill lanes lead to unspoilt villages and historic parklands like Parham Park and Glynde Park.

Birds such as corn bunting and linnet, butterflies like the Adonis Blue, the Silver Spotted Skipper, and wild orchids can be found on the chalk downland nature reserves Mount Caburn and Malling Downs. The ‘Pride of Sussex’ round headed rampion flower is also found here.

The Sussex Wildlife Trust has made its headquarters at Woods Mill Nature Reserve in Fulking, a peaceful spot with coppice woodland, meadows and a reed-fringed lake. Watch out for nightingales and woodpeckers. The Brooks RSPB reserve in Lewes is a lowland wet grassland site supporting wintering snipe and several pairs of breeding lapwings. The ditches are home to rare water beetles, water snails and moths.