This 12 acre wood bequeathed to the Woodland Trust in 1993 has become a regular spot for me to visit. I usually go after swim teaching for Mid-Sussex Marlins SC at nearby Burgess Hill and have done so through late summer, autumn and winter most months since September. Today though I took the 15 mile trip from Lewes in order to enjoy the early spring abundance of new growth on the woodland floor before it changes radically; there are still no bluebells and no growth in the canopy. I know exactly how to park up along the lane to Bellevue Country House Nursing Home. Three cars can park on the edge of the lane at the top of the path, or if not, off the road closer to Warninglid Lane (B2115)
According to the Wildlife Trust cuckoo flowers bloom from April; here in East Sussex they have appeared in mid-March. Wild daffodils, according to the Wildlife Trust are “An indicator of undisturbed habitat, including ancient woodlands and old meadows”. High Weald being a mixture of woodland mixed farming and parkland.
There are no bluebells yet (22 March 2022).
This is ‘gill woodland’. There are two deeply incised streams, hazel coppice, two species-rich meadows, and a larch stand. It is also a designated ‘Ancient Semi Natural Woodland’, and an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
Later in the year, the Woodland Trust Management Plan tells me, the meadows have heath spotted orchids and twayblade orchids) as well as sedges and rushes. The understory is made up of Hazel and bluebells.
There was invasive rhododendron and bracken which has been cleared since 1993. There is a dead wood habitat from the October 1987 storm and newly fallen wood from storms in early 2022.
According to the Woodland Trust, “dead and decaying wood … provides a nutrient-rich habitat for fungi, a nursery for beetle larvae and a larder for insectivorous birds and other animals.” See The Woodland Trust on ‘Deadwood in Woodland’.
You will also learn that Williams Wood will be managed “to increase the diversity of other native species such as holly, hawthorn, elder, goat willow, rowan and cherry”.
Ferns and bryophytes (mosses) in the gills represent the ‘Atlantic period’ of 5,000 years ago.
The Williams Wood Woodland Trust Management Plan can be downloaded from The Woodland Trust website >