News from Devil's Dyke and Saddlescombe

Elephant hawk moth resting on a National Trust logo

From our base Saddlescombe Farm, National Trust staff and volunteers work tirelessly to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Devil's Dyke estate. At a mere 3,500 acres, covering twelve different sites from Wolstonbury Hill in the east, to Highdown and Cissbury Ring in the west, we have our work cut out for us.

Without our dedicated efforts the landscape here on the downs would change, threatening the loss of many of the endangered and special species we play host to.

So, in between endless bouts of scrub bashing and ragwort pulling, it's good to take a step back and appreciate the results of the work done here.

With so much wildlife around us there is always something new to see throughout each season. Here we share  some of the marvellous plants, birds, animals, and other things we see here, along with various projects we have been working on.

Latest updates

09 Feb 19

Master stile maker and his apprentices

Stiles are expensive and necessary bits of countryside furniture, and we have literally hundreds of them across our estate. Glen has made a good chunk of them, and we are very lucky to have such a craftsman volunteering his time. He also volunteers his knowledge too and has been passing on this knowledge to ready apprentices Emily and Jennie. Here they are with their stile, which is about to be installed in the Saddle Field across the road from the farm.

Jennie Smith, Emily Curryer and master stile builder Glen Bruce and their stile

23 Jan 19

New life!

This Monday our TiN volunteers started on a new project at the top of Newtimber Holt. Work began opening up the canopy to bring in light, with the trees cleared used to make a deer and cow barrier for our new hazel coppice. Light and warmth create new growth, more flowers and more food for our birds and mammals. Wildlife monitoring started too; nibbled hazel nuts were collected and will be sent off to see what small creatures live here … wood mice definitely, but do we have dormice?

collecting hazel nuts for evidence of small mammels

04 Dec 18

Winter work for summer wildlife

The scrub bashing season is well underway now. One of the areas we are clearing this season is the ramparts on Cissbury ring. Cissbury is one of the top butterfly sites in the country, and is getting better. Scrub clearance and the nibbling mouths of New Forest ponies help ensure that the chalk grassland on the ring stays in good condition, so the butterflies and the plants they live off can continue to thrive.

Volunteers and Rangers clearing scrub on Cissbury's ramparts