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Open Eastern Downs and Chalk Valleys

Open Eastern Downs and Chalk Valleys

The open Eastern Downs and chalk valleys region is an area of contrasts. From wide open spaces to remote hidden valleys, expansive arable fields to sheep-grazed downland and pebble beaches. Curving hills studded with ancient earthworks roll away into the distance under big skies, giving generous views across fields to the sea.

At Cuckmere Haven the River Cuckmere meanders to the sea with ox bow lakes and water meadows.

Lullington Heath National Nature Reserve near Jevington is one of the largest areas of chalk heath in Britain. Fragrant thyme and chalk flowers such as Vipers-bugloss and purple orchids grow among pink heathers and Tormentil. If you brush against the yellow gorse the scent of coconut fills the air. Dragonflies sweep across Winchester’s Pond, an old dewpond created to supply water for downland sheep. In spring you might be lucky enough to hear a nightingale sing.

Just outside Brighton, Castle Hill National Nature Reserve is an ancient chalk grassland nature reserve noted for rare wild flowers such as the early spider orchid and blue gentian. The Chalkhill Blue butterfly and the rare Long-winged Conehead cricket are often seen here.

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