The Rise of Northwood

Project
A family helps to plant a tree in an open field, lit from behind by bright autumn sunlight.

The story so far….

Here on the Slindon Estate, we have the exciting opportunity to return 185 acres of farmland back to its former wooded landscape over 100 years ago. If you can imagine the scale of 100 full sized football pitches, that’s the area we’re turning back into woodland.

‘The Rise of Northwood’ is the biggest woodland restoration that the National Trust has ever taken on, and it’s all happening on Slindon Estate right now.

Walkers enjoy the wide open views along the track to Little Wood
Walkers enjoy the wide open views along the track to Little Wood
Walkers enjoy the wide open views along the track to Little Wood

Walking through Northwood, you find yourself surrounded by former arable fields. However, just over 100 years ago there would have been an ancient woodland here packed full of huge beech and oak trees. It’s not like this today because of a demand for timber during the First World War. The trees of Northwood were felled to support the war effort and used for trench reinforcement and pit props, as well as building material. During the Second World War, Northwood was ploughed and farmed to help support British food production.  Beyond this, it was continually farmed for crop and cattle fodder until September 2013 when the land was returned to National Trust to be managed.

Latest posts

04 Dec 14

Tree planting success

‘The Rise of Northwood’ tree planting event was a huge success at the weekend, thanks to the support of more than 100 volunteers. In just two days over 3,000 trees were planted – well done everybody. Only another 10,000 to go! The next tree planting event is on Sunday 18th January. For more details email: riseofnorthwood@nationaltrust.org.uk

Staff and volunteers planting tree saplings at Northwood

16 Nov 14

The search for the elusive harvest mouse...

On Sunday the 16th of November, The South Downs National Trust Volunteers came out to Slindon with the final of a trio of workdays this autumn. The task for the day was to weed a hedge that was planted last winter adjacent to the nursery area. Also a search for finding evidence of the elusive harvest mouse was on the days schedule. The harvest mouse, as its scientific name of Micromys minutus suggests, is the smallest rodent found in Europe. On average it only weighs between 4 and 6g (about the weight of a 20 pence coin) and its length is between 50 to 70mm. They feed on seeds, berries and insects and live in areas of tall grasses, cereal crops, roads verges, reed beds and hedgerows.. A couple of months ago a nest was discovered in an old derelict fence around Crescent Field within the project area, so it was decided that further investigation was needed. Half of Crescent Field has not been cultivated for at least 8 years as it was left as set aside land. The remainder was cultivated for the last time in 2013 as with the other War Ag fields. This set aside area is now a mixture of rough grassland with bramble, which is perfect habitat for the harvest mouse. At first it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack but after 30 minutes the first nest was found just before the heavens opened. After a very wet lunch break we went out to focus our efforts around the area that the first nest was discovered. This paid off quickly as one after another nest was found. In total 12 nests were found in varying conditions but all were undoubtedly the work of the harvest mouse. A couple were found on the ground where they may have fallen by the work of the elements but most were found high up in brambles. The average height that the nests were found above the ground was 32.25cm with the nests diameter being between 6 and 9cm.Although the amount of arable farmland is reducing in the area, Harvest mice should find that conditions improve in the area as more scrub and rough grassland develops along the existing woodland edges. Also the surrounding farmland of Courthill Farm should become better habitat for harvest mice as organic farming methods are applied and areas of rough grassland. We hope to survey other areas of the estate to understand where else this micro mouse lives. Also these records will be sent to the Sussex Biodiversity Records centre, which will help to build up an idea of distribution across the county. Currently there are under 150 records for them in the county.

A harvest mouse nest

06 Nov 14

The journey starts here

On Tuesday 4th November our 2.5 tonne Portland stone arrived at The Slindon Forge bright and early, just in time for morning commuters and school children to have a look at before they started their day. It will remain here in its raw form until the end of November. It will then continue its journey to Northwood where a flow of imagination and expertise from Sculptor Jon Edgar will begin to open up the block. Find out more about Jon at http://www.jonedgar.co.uk/ The arrival at Northwood will coincide with our tree planting event running over the weekend of 29th and 30th November. Come join us for some planting or contribute a chisel mark or two. Get in touch for more details. If you have any ideas for the transformation of the sculpture it would be great to hear them.

A large block of Portland stone arrives at Slindon for the Rise of Northwood sculpture project