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Things to do at Swan Barn Farm

Two black and white Belted Galloway cattle grazing in long grass on Denbies Hillside, Surrey
Belted Galloway cattle grazing on Denbies Hillside | © National Trust Images / Rob Hewer

At Swan Barn Farm, on the Surrey-Sussex border, the changing landscape throughout the seasons provides much to see and do, ensuring that one visit is never quite enough. Throughout the year different flora and fauna comes into life, animals can be spotted, and food can be foraged. All of this can be enjoyed from numerous dog-friendly walking trails.

Explore the pastures

You're welcome to stroll across the footpaths, recharging your batteries in the fresh air. You could even have a picnic if the weather is on your side.

The working pastures at Swan Barn Farm are grazed and cut for hay, which increases their biodiversity, and so there are many wild flowers, flora and fauna to be found.

Seasonal flowers

In summer, the sweet scent of dog rose fills the air as it winds through the hedges. In winter, why not enjoy winter walks made firm of foot under the bright night frosts?

Walking trails

The Serpent Trail is a 64-mile walking trail designed to showcase some of the finest views and countryside in the area, which starts here.

Frosty woodland at Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Enjoy wandering the woodland at Swan Barn Farm | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Discover the woodlands

The woodlands at Swan Barn Farm are characterised by mature oak with different aged copes of sweet chestnut and hazel.

Autumn is a particularly fruitful season to explore this habitat, as the trees all put on their mantels and light up the paths in a crackling auburn glow.

Towards winter, traditional coppicing starts in the woodlands, with fogged breath, the sound of the saw and the crack of a fire all drifting on the still crisp air.

The woodland wildlife

The chestnut and hazel coppices are cut on rotation, producing fencing and buildings materials used throughout the estate.

With the land perched so close to Haslemere high street, these woodlands are also a retreat for wildlife. They're rich with birds, moths and mammals, including an array of specialist species such as dormice and nightingales.

Visiting with your dog

You're very welcome to walk your dog at Swan Barn Farm, and there are lots of footpaths for you and your furry friend to explore. You can enjoy a walk in the woodland and pasture at any time of year.

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Plentiful orchards

Take a walk through the orchards, one of which is over 100 years old. The team have been restoring it over many years, including planting traditional varieties of fruit.

The newer orchard was planted in 2010 and has a mix of old and new varieties. As tempting as it may be, please resist trying an apple in this orchard as our trees are young and still growing.

Apple trees

We have over 35 varieties of apples in total. Team favourites include Court Pendu Plat, Cornish Gilliflower (an old Truro native), Newton cooking apples – named after the mathematician himself – and Tom Putt for cider making.

In autumn, watch out for small mammals hiding their ripe autumn bounty to tide them over the cold winter months.

Close-up of apples growing on a tree in the orchard at Lyveden, Northamptonshire
Discover over 35 varieties of apples in the orchard at Swan Barn Farm | © National Trust Images/Mike Selby

Foraging

No matter the time of year there’s always something to forage from Swan Barn Farm.

Early on you’ll find nettle tips for tasty soups and beer, before succulent blackberries and crisp apples ripen in late summer, providing a seasonal treat for nocturnal badgers and tipsy red admiral butterflies that gorge on fallen fruit.

The autumn months see a bounty of hazelnuts, chestnuts and a host of fungi, while even the winter yields sloes for a warming tot of sloe gin.

Meet the animals

Livestock

A hungry herd of Belted Galloways cattle graze the fields to ensure the pastures stay rich in flowers.

Jacob sheep are a traditional, old-fashioned, hardy breed and manage the grassland in the orchard. Their fleeces are valued for spinning due to the natural colour variation and high quality of their wool.

In the spring, lambs can often be seen out enjoying the morning sun.

Chickens in the orchard

There are also Buff and Light Sussex hens including a cockerel named Cornelius. They lay eggs for the volunteers and mainly munch on new grass and even the odd slug in the orchard.

Bees

Swan Valley Farm’s friendly native bees are kept in traditional hives in the orchard, and help to pollinate the fruit trees and wild flowers. By keeping them here we hope to encourage others to try their hand at beekeeping.

Wildlife watching

Birds

Look out for birds while visiting Swan Barn Farm. In spring, the dawn chorus of a chiffchaff, rich blackbird and strident great tit all puncture the air on still mornings. Then, as summer beckons the insistent questioning call of the stock dove drifts down from the trees.

Dragonflies and butterflies

In winter, the team will start checking for brown hairstreak butterfly eggs, searching in the nooks and crannies of the bare hedgerow twigs.

As spring comes around, watch out for orange-tip butterflies around the delicate pink of the lady's smock flowers.

Summertime insects

In the summer, the pastures buzz with insects like the fast-flying golden-ringed dragonfly, the second largest to the emperor dragonfly.

Below the cool green dappled canopy and along the winding stream you’ll see them hawking up and down the river in search of food.

Cut ends of pine logs show annual rings at Hatfield Forest, Essex.

Discover more at Swan Barn Farm

Find out how to get to Swan Barn Farm, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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