Home » Creativity » Costells Wood, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex, 16th September 2021

Costells Wood, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex, 16th September 2021


No.3 Woodland Trust

I’m on a roll; three Woodland Trust woods in as many days. The temptation is to go for a fourth in three days. In truth I should pace myself. I can hope for a wood a day, or to post a trip to the woods at least once a week – I will be away from time to time. I may be ill or busy. And as I will find within a month once I’ve covered the 24 woods of East and West Sussex I am going to be travelling into Kent and Hampshire or north into Surrey. And once I’m out of what I consider to be the South East of England (everything south and to the south east of London) I’ll be looking at day trips and overnights.

For now, I have Scaynes Hill, woods I know from looking for a dog walk while Toby had football practice nearby and on the road I took regularly for many years all the way into Haywards Heath.

Thinking I was too cocky when I made some wrong turns getting to East Hoathly yesterday, today I use the SatNav (Waze) and find myself in a cul de sac surrounded by 60s suburban town houses – and high fencing preventing entry into the privately owned section of Costells Wood. I should have taken myself into the Village Hall car park – our spot from football a decade ago.

It has changed. The private section of the wood that runs up to the mainroad is closely managed with carefully constructed fences and a path through to the Woodland Trust.

Patches of soggy mud have been carefully filled with lengths of thin logs. There’s a fairy dell – a painted patch of trunk and a sign telling you so. And a lot of signs indicating what is private. Looking at the map I have to wonder if this land is being kept set aside for development with housing rather than being kept as an open access space.

As talking to people I meet is my modus operandi I start making small talk with a couple who turn out to be the owners. They are proud of their efforts to keep the public to the footpath, with fencing made from their own holy, and proud of the sections of simple path improvements they have made so that you can walk when the place is ankle deep in mud. They own a bungalow on the site with .5 acre the the other 12.5 acres is theie’s. A pronounced, boggy ravine makes up part of this, the rest looks like mature deciduous wood and dense stands of bracken. 

I take my sound recording: traffic back and forth on the busy road into Haywards Heath, planes above coming in or leaving Gatwick, a power tool in a garden on the other side of the high barrier fence. I press on to a dingly fell ‘fairy’ spot into the Woodland Trust land proper  – where the fencing either side of the footbath stops abruptly.

The rest of the walk Evie and I know, if only from a decade ago – down to a pond, over a short footbridge, up the bank at the other side, around and back heading north looking for an exit in the housing estate or beyond.

I find there is no public access into the housing estate, so you have to walk around – no doubt this reduces footfall all over the place and does something to alleviate pressure on a modest patch of woodland. I hear a kite; I see a grey squirrel. We are hemmed in by housing though and the wood is transected by power cables.


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