Some good news for a change!
There has been plenty of depressing news recently on the climate and nature front. So Greening Steyning is delighted to have some encouraging local news to share. Bramber Brooks has been saved as a nature reserve, and a new path has opened up on the Wiston Estate to create new routes for cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
A new chapter for Bramber Brooks
After several months of uncertainty, Horsham District Council has announced it plans to go ahead with the purchase of Bramber Brooks Nature Reserve. The Council will be taking over the management of the site, so public access will be preserved and all the hard work over the last 9 years in developing the area as a nature reserve will not be wasted.
This precious pocket of nature is tucked away behind the houses on Bramber Street. Extending over 34 acres, the reserve is overlooked by Bramber Castle and stretches down to the river. It was first created in 2016 when local resident Nick Mills purchased the land, through his company, Riversong Ltd. Since then a whole range of improvements have been made to encourage local wildlife and open the area to nature lovers. Paths and walkways have been created, owl boxes have been put up, a community orchard planted, and information boards installed telling the story of this historic and biologically diverse patch of land that in medieval times was used for drying salt.
Wildlife has flourished, with regular sightings of badgers, foxes, roe deer along with a rich variety of birds, flora and fauna. This makes Bramber Brooks a key part of the wildlife corridor which stretches up and down the River Adur.
All this was put in limbo when the land was put up for sale in March this year. The hope was to find a buyer who would preserve and develop the nature reserve, rather than convert it for other uses. And with the District Council stepping in to buy the land this has now happened. Phew!
Details are still to be finalised, but there are plans in the works to create a new access point from the public car park opposite the Castle Inn. An existing proposal for the Environment Agency to excavate a large pond as a ‘bird scrape’ can also proceed in Spring 2024, with the hope of attracting many new birds to the site.
So it’s great news for nature, and great news for local residents who have come to treasure this hidden wildlife paradise on our own doorstep.
Connecting up the countryside at Wiston
The White Bridge may have closed (temporarily, we all hope). But, happily, another pathway has opened up. It’s on the Wiston Estate and will create a handy new East-West connection along the foot of the South Downs.
The existing footpath that runs from Mouse Lane, round the back of Round Robin Cottages, and up to the track behind Wiston House, has been upgraded to an all-weather surface. Several awkward stiles have also been removed. So the path is now suitable for bike and horse riders, as well as walkers.
Richard Goring, Manager of the Wiston Estate, explains the thinking behind the new route:
“As part of the Wiston Estate Plan (2017-2030) we were very keen to enhance connectivity across the estate and to connect existing Public Rights of Way. Last year we created a permissive bridleway connecting Washington to the winery and Chalk restaurant at North Farm. This year we are very pleased to have partnered with WSCC to create a permissive bridleway linking Steyning to Chanctonbury Ring Rd and the bridleway that goes on towards Washington. This will create a bicycle route from Steyning to Washington, on to North Farm, Findon Village and onto Worthing enabling locals to bike between villages without having to use the A283.”
This is great news for everyone who likes to get out and enjoy the countryside close up, and an important step in encouraging ‘active travel’ as a healthy antidote to jumping in the car.