Habitats at Saddlescombe Farm

A close up view of juniper berries, a rare and declining downland scrub species found in abundance here at Newtimber Hill

You'll discover a great number of different habitats in and around Saddlescombe Farm, which have attracted many species of wildlife. Ancient woodland, dewponds and chalk grasslands all have their part to play, along with the sheep and cattle who keep the area in tip-top condition.

Chalk grassland

Newtimber is considered one of the best chalk grassland sites in the UK.
Thousands of years of continuous grazing have produced a rich tapestry of wildflowers. With such a variety of colour, smells and taste, Newtimber is also home to a wonderful variety of butterflies, bugs and insects.
Bee orchid in chalk grassland
Bee orchid in chalk grassland

Ancient woodland

Newtimber Holt has stood the test of time for thousands of years.
Amongst the gnarled, coppiced ash trees lies a 1,000 year old lime, a multi-stemmed giant that soars above the canopy. Delve deeper into the woods and you will find beech trees with graffiti from 1880 and bluebells galore.  One of these graffitied beech trees now holds the record as thesingle  tallest native British tree in the UK - pretty impressive.


Newtimber is lucky to have three surviving dewponds.
These ponds are a visible link to the past on the South Downs. Originally created as watering holes for sheep they are now important watery wildlife sites in an otherwise dry landscape. A myriad of dragonflies skim the surface in summer.
A common hawker dragonfly patrols across a wetland pond
A common hawker dragonfly patrols its territory

Chalk heath

A century ago the top of Newtimber was a purple blaze of heather.
After years of neglect and fertilizer use, this rarest of habitats has now virtually disappeared. However, look closely and you can still find an intimate mix of acid-loving heathers and downland plants clinging on.

Juniper scrub

Newtimber has one of the largest stands of juniper on the South Downs.
This rare and declining habitat is a relic from the last ice age and will quickly disappear if it gets shaded out by trees. The junipers here have been closely studied and recently new trees have been planted to reinvigorate this micro habitat.
Juniper berries, a rare and declining downland scrub species
A close up view of juniper berries, a rare and declining downland scrub species found in abundance here at Newtimber Hill

Habitat makers: cattle

At Saddlescombe cattle share the grass with the sheep, and play a vital role in keeping Newtimber's chalk grassland in tip top condition.

Habitat makers: sheep

Around Saddlescombe sheep grazing  keeps the small paddocks nice and tidy, just like they were back in the Victorian age.


Sheep moving through the farm
sheep on the move through Saddlescombe Farm at shearing time

Habitat makers: volunteers

Whether it's burning scrub, clearing dewponds or mowing rank vegetation, all our habitats need a bit of TLC from us and our dedicated team of volunteers.
For more information please contact one of our Rangers at our Estate Office.