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Rother Valley

The varied landscapes of the Rother Valley provide habitats for an incredible range of flora and fauna. On open chalk grassland, wild flowers like the honey-scented Musk Orchid and horseshoe vetch thrive, attracting clouds of butterflies in the summer, including the Adonis Blue.

The River Rother’s meandering course creates wet woodland, marsh and wet meadow, home to birds like snipe and Bewick swan. South of the river, Lavington Common is renowned for the range of mosses and lichens found on the heath.

History is all around, from Iron Age Torberry Hill fort and Bignor Roman Villa, to Saxon villages and medieval landscaped parks.

This area is known for its series of sandy soiled, lowland heaths, from Coates Castle in the east to Duncton, Lavington, Trotton, Iping and Stedham commons. These are rich in lichens, mosses and liverworts. The heathers provide shelter and breeding grounds for reptiles and heathland insects such as the Green Tiger Beetle.

There are long views across the valley, north to the Greensand Hills and south to the dramatic chalk escarpment. High on the scarp is Heyshott Down, shrouded with ancient beech and yew woodland with a small chalkland nature reserve on the site of old chalk pits, with wonderful views across the Weald.

Burton Mill Pond is fringed with reed beds and bordered by carr woodland, a type of waterlogged wooded terrain. Alder, willow, sweet chestnut and oak trees thrive in this wet ground. The range of habitats here attract birds such as bitterns, reed warblers, woodpeckers and kingfishers. Areas of snipe bog host southern marsh orchids and the woodlands are home to a variety of fungi, lichen, mosses and ferns. Rare invertebrates including the colourful Zircon Reed Beetle, with its iridescent back and gold legs can also be found here. The pond is a top site for dragonflies and damselflies, with over 20 species recorded here, including the rare Downy Emerald dragonfly.

Tranquil Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve includes wetlands, woodlands and heathland- havens for a wide range of wildlife. Hedge-lined paths lead to viewing areas and hides where you can watch birds feeding and wading. In summer butterflies and dragonflies flutter and swoop around the trails and ponds. The Reserve offers night time safaris to see what mysterious creatures come out at night.