Wildlife and habitats at Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill
Newtimber Hill, surrounding Saddlescombe Farm, is home to a wide variety of habitats from chalk grassland, ancient woodland and dewponds to juniper scrub and the extremely rare chalk heath. Take a walk around and see how many birds, butterflies and flowers it supports. You'll be surprised by how many different species have been attracted to this part of Sussex.
Habitats of Newtimber Hill
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.
A century ago the top of Newtimber was a purple blaze of heather. After years of neglect and fertiliser 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.
Newtimber has the largest stand of juniper bushes on the eastern South Downs. This rare and declining tree 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.
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 the single tallest native British tree in the UK.
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.
Wildlife at Newtimber Hill
Newtimber is a haven for butterflies with over 30 species found between April and September. Downland specialities include the Adonis blue, chalk hill blue and silver spotted skipper.
The magnificent buzzard is now a common site around Saddlescombe and Newtimber. Watch out for their aerial fights with the rooks that nest near the farm.
Catching a glimpse of the stunning red kite is a real highlight. Sightings in this region are becoming more frequent, and we hope one day this bird will be nesting in nearby Newtimber holt, a small ancient woodland.
Newtimber Holt has hundreds of different species of fungi, from minute parachute mushrooms to the giant and deadly (for trees) Ganoderma. The grassland holds an equal, but more elusive, allure with the beautifully coloured waxcaps.
Evidence of human settlement, dating back to the Mesolithic and Bronze Ages, has been found here. Its many owners include the Knights Templar and generations of farming families.
With the South Downs Way footpath, ancient woodland and a working farm, there’s plenty to see and do at Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill. Visit the donkey wheel or information barn for a flavour of life here.
Wolstonbury Hill stands proud as a gateway to Brighton. A hill with layers of human memories and an important chalk grassland area supporting a wide variety of wild orchids.