A walk around Hollybush Wood
This walk takes in one of the wooded areas of Standen. Hollybush Wood was part of the original Standen Estate, but was not bought by the National Trust until the early 1980s. Because of the steep-sided nature of the centre of this woodland, Hollybush Wood has probably never been cultivated and has remained tree covered since the days of the Wildwood. Ancient woodland indicator plants grow in abundance , orchids, bluebells, dog’s mercury and others. Stoats and weasels live among the sedgy undergrowth and herds of deer can often be seen running through the trees.
Please note normal admission applies to enter the property and car park
Standen car park, grid ref: TQ391356
Start at the 5 bar wooden gate at the lower (southern) end of the bottom car park [A]. Turn left once through the gate onto the path enclosed by hedges.
The Rutlands and Wither Rough [A]
The Rutlands and Wither Rough used to be divided in two by a hedge running from the metal gate on the right known as 'The Rutlands' and the second field 'Wither Rough'. At the metal gate there are views down towards Weir Wood Reservoir and beyond to Ashdown Forest. The fields here can get very wet and are often full of rushes which thrive in the permanently damp conditions. A close look at the ground will reveal that what looks like grass from a distance is actually a mosaic of wild flowers like buttercup, bugle and occasionally even orchids.
Follow the path past the metal gates on left and right. Stop and see if you can see the reservoir through a gap in the tree tops. Follow round to the right (B) as it runs alongside the old Wither Rough field. Ignore the footpath sign to the left at (B)
As the path divides above the pond take the right-hand fork and go through a gate [C] leading into the field.
The pond [C]
The pond [C] has been cleared to allow light in – throughout the estate there are many ponds and we manage each one in a different way; each for different kinds of wildlife. Some ponds are left to shade over and eventually fill in, some are cleared on a regular basis, and some like this are left filled in with leaves, but with lots of light. Much grass grows in this pond, and this provides a good habitat for dragonflies and damselflies.
Turn left through the gate and walk ahead to the corner of the field, through the gate into the Hollybush woods [D] and the start of the boardwalk.
Hollybush Wood [D] - [K]
Hollybush Wood [D] - [K] is a modern form of the name Holmbush, meaning the holly tree. The woodland is also a relic from the ancient ‘Holmwood’, one of the seven Sussex forests which covered much of the county. As the woodland is almost entirely inaccessible by machinery, many of the fallen trees are left to the wildlife which eventually consumes them. Some timber is cut and taken, however, to provide materials for building gates, fences, benches and so on. Other wood is used for making charcoal, bean poles and plant supports used around the garden.
Follow the boardwalk into the Wood crossing the bridge [E].
Along the right hand side of the boardwalk [E] - [F] the first of many large pits and depressions can be seen. The age of the oak trees growing within the pits indicates that they have been in existence for many hundreds of years, and could be linked with the nearby Roman iron furnace.
Continue along the boardwalk until reaching a bench [F], where the path doubles back to the right. Take time to sit look, and listen to the flowers and birds living in the wood.
Just beyond the bench [F] a small overgrown path leads on to Weir Wood Reservoir. Just beyond this point is the site of a Roman iron works.The iron works or bloomery has long been known about and was excavated in 1938 by a Mr R T Mason. The whole site was found to be about 50 yards in diameter, and was indicated by the presence of cinder in thick layers through the ground. Bloomeries were small kilns, pumped by bellows, which used heat to draw a crude form of iron from ironstone that had been dug nearby. It was recently investigated by an archaeologist, using Standen volunteers, and we hope to display the results when they become available The woodland downstream of this point floods regularly and is full of willow and alder. This is a rare, undisturbed habitat for many types of animal and bird. We have also planted a number of black poplar here as part of a species recovery programme for this very rare tree.
Walk down the boardwalk as it begins to cross and re-cross the small stream running through the bottom of the woods [G].
The boardwalk [G] - [I] was built by the Woodland Volunteer Group and replaced a short path of railway sleepers through the wettest parts of Hollybush. Over the years we have continued to extend the boardwalk in both directions thanks to generous gifts of money. If you look up the slope you will see the barn constructed by the Woodland Volunteers to enable more efficient management of the woodland. Some days you may see charcoal making or wood working (bodging) using coppiced wood. (G) (Ignore steps to right).
Continue ahead along the boardwalk [and up the steps H] until you follow on to a wider gravel path. Carry straight on up the gentle slope with large pine trees on your left. [I]
After 100 yards turn 90° right to take the path [J], down the slope to a bridge made from railway sleepers across a small stream. Continue along this path. At the T junction go left and follow the path as it winds its way up the hillside. Along this path you can glimpse Standen house through the trees.
The pines in this area [I] - [J] are the few survivors of those planted by the Beale family from Standen around the time of the First World War, when timber was required for pit props and fuel; by the time they had reached a suitable size, timber was no longer needed for this purpose, so the trees have remained.
At the top of the path [K], turn right onto the track heading back towards the House and Garden.
Follow the track straight ahead through the gate into the Garden [L], on to Goose Green from where the car park can be seen to the right.
Standen car park, grid ref: TQ391356
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