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Wealden Greensand

Wealden Greensand

The steep greensand hills are covered with ancient beech, oak and sweet chestnut woodlands, broken by open areas of rare heaths and commons.

On the slopes of Black Down miles of secluded walks lead through ancient oak, chestnut and beech hanger woodlands and flower-rich meadows. The 280m-high hill top is the highest point in the National Park and boasts views across five counties and out to sea. In high summer purple heather, bright gorse and wild flowers teem with bees, butterflies and insects.

This remote area has few main roads so is best enjoyed on foot. Explore the ancient sunken lanes, secluded beneath the tree canopy. The Serpent Trail snakes across the National Park linking isolated heathlands and passing medieval villages, woods and historic Petworth Park.

Cooksbridge Meadow near Haslemere, a streamside pasture surrounded by copses, is a haven of peace and tranquillity. A fine example of Low Weald woodland, Ebernoe Common has ponds, streams, meadows and miles of woodland paths to explore.

Ebernoe Common and Butcherlands nature reserve near Petworth is a classic low weald woodland, with grassy meadows in the clearings. Cared for by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, the reserve is rich in wildlife, from ferns and orchids, fungi and lichens to nightingales, woodcock, dormice and bats.

Woolbeding Common is a lowland heath with wide horizons and intimate secluded places. On the common you may spot rare birds such as the nightjar and woodlark. Reptiles and insects like the long-horned beetle thrive in the heather and gorse. Grazing by traditional hardy breeds like the Belted Galloway cows helps maintain diverse habitats – look out for Old Spot and Saddleback Pigs rooting in the bracken.

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