Explore Limpsfield Common
Limpsfield Common has a number of very different areas. There are some magical woods and some stupendous views from Scearn Bank. Here are our favourite things to do.
The sandy soil is normally pretty dry so it's the perfect place for a quiet stroll. There are tracks all over the Common which are well marked as public footpaths and bridlepaths.
Savour the reds, russets and golds of autumn. In the woods, you’ll see the oaks, beeches, hornbeams and hazel trees all clothed in varying shades of yellow. Others, such as hawthorn and wild maple will be showing off their fiery red leaves. The High Chart in particular, has some glorious beech woods which are simply stunning at this time of year. Don’t forget the berries either - hawthorn, guelder rose (look like glace cherries), elderberries and rowan.
Forage along the hedgerows
The hedges across Limpsfield Common are often heavy with blackberries, glistening in the sunshine. Later in the season you'll find sloes on blackthorn bushes - they key ingredient in sumptuous sloe gin, (but watch out for the long spines!). Keep an eye out for bright red rosehip berries, which makes a delicious syrup for pouring over yoghurt, pancakes, drop scones, or simply vanilla ice-cream.
In the woods, you’ll find hazel and sweet chestnut trees. The nuts of these can be roasted to eat or ground up to make flour for baking.
Play among the trees
The woods on both the High Chart and in Happy Valley are leafy playgrounds in their own right. Get the family stuck into these activities:
- Climb a tree. Scramble up and see how far you can go!
- Collect fruits - nuts, acorns, berries. See how many you can collect and identify. Score extra points for the rare items - juniper berries, alder cones, wild cherry, yew berries. No matter how tasty they look, don’t eat unless you are sure they are safe. Some can cause an upset tummy.
- Measure the girth. Put your arms around the trunk and see how big it is. How many family members have to join in to reach all around? Which is the fattest tree in the wood?
- Hunt for bugs. Examine the bark and see what creepy-crawlies are there. What sort of tree has the most in number?
- Bark rubbing. Take some paper and some crayons. Hold the paper onto the bark and rub to reveal the pattern. Which tree makes the most interesting pattern?
- Last but not least. Go kick some autumn leaves! It’s the ultimate feel good, mood-lifting stress buster!
Go on a fungi photographic safari
The woodlands across the common are marvellous grounds for hunting fungi and lichens. Their shapes and colour make great images as they nestle into the surroundings. Sometimes they can be spotted going underneath trees, and other times you can spot them on the dead wood of a fallen tree. Many fungi types respond to rain, so when there’s been shower, grab your boots, your bins and a guide book and see what you can find. Search for these:
- Beard lichens. The wispy strands growing on tree bark are a sign of air purity and they provide cover for small bugs. Lichen are formed by the interaction of fungi and algae, and in the past were used as dyes for clothing.
- Colourful fungi can be found amongst the leaf litter or on decaying wood in the broadleaf woodland - oaks, beeches, ash. Look out for yellow chicken in the woods, white candle snuff fungus, scarlet elfcap, blood red beefsteak fungus and black lumps of King Alfred’s cakes, looking like pieces of coal.
- Conifer woodland. Hunt around to find shaggy parasol, the fascinating collared earthstar and the beautiful but poisonous fly agaric
Fly a kite
The high open heathland areas of Limpsfield Common provide an ideal spot for flying kites. In fact, Fletcher Baden-Powell, brother to Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Scouts) experimented with man-lifting kites on Limpsfield Common. You may be starting with a plastic bag wrapped around bamboo sticks or you may have a super-dooper stunt kite, but the breeze will probably give it lift. Do make sure you are well out of everyone’s way though.