I’m ticking off another East Sussex Woodland Trust otherwise I might not have gone far from home – I’m going down with a cold. But the sun is out, the dog needs a walk and the fresh air usually does me good.
Not for the first time I got lost in the suburban entrails of a town, this time 1960s detached homes, and bungalows on the edge of the London to Brighton Rail Line. I don’t like to get caught in a cul de sac or turning circle in a dead end so parked when I felt close enough and could see tops of trees over garden fences. Asking a friendly dog walker gave me a way in – no through someone’s back garden (they do not even have access), but down the road, along a path, by the railway …
The top end of the walk was me getting out of the housing estate, and then doubling back along a narrow path between a link-chain fence and the railway and high fencing along people’s back gardens. An inauspicious start though had we wanted the brook by the bottom of the path might have been a spot for Evie to wet her feet and take a drink.
People are always friendly and usually have a dog with them. In this instance the conversation turned to ‘ash dieback’ before I even got to the wood. In the distance chainsaws wired. I reassured a depressed walker that over in Lewes we cut back the ash a few years ago and all the stumps were left to grow back. The dead or dying trunks need to be cut down before they kill someone I guess. It’s the responsible thing to do – especially where the wood is managed by the Wood Trust to provide accessibility.
There’s much that can be learnt from the Woodland Trust Management Plan for Butcher’s Wood which is available from the Woodland Trust website.
They were working on the trees when I was there, with intermittent chainsaw action, plenty of space in the canopy and piles of logs. Some will be left, some removed. Additional planting is unlikely as hornbeam, silver birch and sweet chestnut should self-seed I believe.
This is only the second time in a six weeks of doing these woodland walks that I’ve come across people at work – the paths kept me well away from them, across a patch of meadow into Lag’s Wood – privately owned, access permitted, with a brook running through one side of it.
I can understand the pleasure locals will have here, adults and children, for walks and picnics.
On the way back passing through Ditching I pulled over to get some photos of their effective traffic calming measured; I can’t see getting approval for this in Lewes, but this is what some residents are calling for. I’d like this on Winterbourne Lane to oblige the rat-run traffic to be more considerate, while over in Malling people would like something like this on the busy main road that is Malling Hill and Malling Street.