The Woodland Trust, Slaugham, West Sussex
I love an ancient tree, but in this case you’ll find it in the churchyard rather than the adjoining walk.
A couple of sheep paddocks have been planted. The result feels no different to taking a sports field and planting trees, albeit they are well chosen and nicely laid out and as they mature will create a tiny patch of woodland with broad walks – a place to walk the dog. Though local dog walkers here prefer to dodge round the back, over a broken, non-Woodland Trust, bridge, to perambulation around or near to a private lake then out the other side.
As I learnt the trees were planted recently (in tree terms I would say this is within the last 25 to 50 years). It was part of Woodland Trust’s ‘Woods on Your Doorstep’ project where local residents got involved (and perhaps stump up some of the funding through fundraising and council grants). This idea appeals to me for ideas residents have in Lewes to return some of the land in and around the town to woodland.
I followed this route at first, and other dog walkers taking it and as a result doubled back past a mansion converted into flats and the ruins of the 400 year old Slaugham Place before stumbling upon a gated entrance to Church Colvert. By far the best place to start and end this walk is in front of the St Mary’s church in Slaugham – there is a pub opposite.
It is an attractive hamlet in the Sussex High Weald with narrow roads, dips, twists and turns. It is a pleasant escape from the A23 though not far enough away to escape its noise.
Though in a hamlet it feels quite urban, with overhead power lines, public and private paths, gates and fences, the ever present A23/M23 and planes coming in and out of Gatwick overhead.
Trees I learn from the Church Colvert Management Plan from the Woodland Trust were planted over winter 1997/98 – these trees and some ‘natural colonisation by native trees’ make up what we now see.