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COVID-19 UPDATE

Following Government advice to stay safe and protect the NHS, we are working hard to continue to deliver for you. Find information here on how to enjoy the National Park virtually, and how our services are operating during this time.

Secrets of the Heath returns for 2020 with sizzling line-up of free family fun!

Secrets of the Heath returns for 2020 with sizzling line-up of free family fun!

Friday 4 September – Sunday 6 September 2020

A live wildlife cam of baby sand lizards, the grand unveiling of a new arts trail, and interactive sessions with rangers will be among the highlights of a fun action-packed weekend to celebrate the amazing heathlands of the South Downs.

“Secrets of the Heath” returns for 2020 with a virtual event with something for all ages and interests.

The bumper line-up over the weekend of 5 and 6 September includes a chance to watch one of Britain’s rarest native reptiles – the beautiful and mysterious sand lizard – they hatched last month and have regular feeding times gulping down little critters!

Over the weekend people will be able to watch virtual tours of heathlands – known for their radiant purple and pink heathers that blossom in the late summer and their abundance of rare wildlife.

Storytelling sessions, live Q&A sessions with reptile experts, live arts classes, and a fun video revealing how to dress like a Saxon warrior will be among the other highlights. Why not take part in the Saxon fancy dress competition?

See the full programme below or download here:

To kickstart the fun weekend, there will be the unveiling of a new educational trail that tells the story of the history, wildlife and people of heathlands. Inspired by stories from local communities and drawing upon sources as diverse as the poet Tennyson and a 395-year-old local map, award-winning sculptor Graeme Mitcheson has created seven bespoke stone carvings for the new Heathlands Sculpture Trail.

There will be a whistlestop tour of all the new sculptures on Friday, 4 September in a series of short Facebook Lives.

The virtual “Secrets of the Heath” builds on the success of the popular event that was held at Petersfield Heath for the past six years.

Katy Sherman, Events and Engagement Officer for Heathlands Reunited, said: “We hope the event will inspire people to watch to find out more about heaths and how to care for them. A habitat rarer than the rainforest, heathlands are a precious haven for biodiversity, including all 12 of Britain’s native reptiles and amphibians. But they are under threat and would disappear completely without active management. This virtual event is a great opportunity for people to find out how they can play their part in saving our heaths through the Heathlands Reunited project.”

The sculpture trail is accompanied by a downloadable leaflet that families and walkers will be able to use to navigate the walks.

Colouring sheets

Download the heathland colouring sheets:

Amazing heathland wildlife

Watch the video below to see some of the amazing rare heathland species found in the South Downs National Park.

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" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "