General: This site of 12 hectares, owned by Mid Sussex District Council, lies to the south-west of Burgess Hill, adjacent to Jane Murray Way, beginning at the London Road, A273, and extending westwards to the Tesco roundabout. A small U-shaped area of ancient woodland (1 hectare) across the road is included, which joins with Henry Burt Way via two footpaths. The whole area consists of meadows, hedgerows, small parcels of woodland, two ponds and magnificent views of The South Downs. Footpaths and bridlepaths connect southwards to Hurstpierpoint and north-westwards, continuing adjacent to Jane Murray Way via the Leisure Path, to Malthouse and Pangdean Lanes.
An information leaflet and a separate self-guided walk leaflet are in the process of being devised by the Friends in conjunction with MSDC. The existing management plan is currently being updated and will be implemented from 2010. Natural England have agreed that Local Nature Reserve status would be granted if the landowner applied for it. Hopefully this will be done in 2011.
The Hammonds Ridge team, part of the Friends of Burgess Hill Green Circle Network, meet monthly on the third Sunday of the month at 10am by the Tesco entrance gate to do practical conservation work for 2-3 hours. Guided walks are planned and a cycle ride around the entire Green Circle in August has its half-way picnic on the site.
The following has been circulated to all houses near the ancient woodland:-
The Friends group have recently expanded their remit from Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve to all the significant green spaces within and on the edge of the town. Through our work at Bedelands we have built up a considerable expertise on Nature Conservation issues. We have been working with the District Council (DC) to ensure we have more and better information on a range of green sites. We would be interested to know if you have any particular local knowledge of Hammonds Ridge Ancient Woodland, which is a valuable remnant. Also, please let us know if you are aware of any anomalies regarding the boundary, as we are aware that the fences to some adjacent properties do not reflect the actual legal boundary. The site that you live close to – Hammonds Ridge – has a preponderance of Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) that has established itself over the years prior to adoption of the site by the District Council. You may be aware that the DC undertook some ‘grubbing up’ of this species a couple of years ago, and re-planted the resultant gaps with young native ‘whip’ trees. Regrettably many of these were pulled out, and there has since been a lot of re-generation of the laurels from their underground root system. The laurel is a non-native plant. Its presence can lead to loss of local wildlife, and it prevents the establishment of native tree and shrub species by its vigorous growth habit and its high shading capabilities. Our joint aim with the DC is to restore this area to the feel of an English Ancient Woodland (defined by being continuously wooded since 1600 AD). Consequently, later in the year we, as a Friends group, intend to remove much of this laurel. We shall work with the District Council on a programme of grinding out roots, and applying highly targeted chemical treatments to minimise re-growth. It is recognised, however, that the laurel provides a valuable screen to the edge of the site, and so the work will be done in phases. This will allow native plants to become established and provide a screen before we remove the laurels at the edge of the site. We would like to invite anyone interested in trees to a talk entitled ‘Trees and what they do for us’ by Desmond Gunner of the Tree Foundation. This will take place at Cyprus Hall at 7.30pm on Friday 6th March. Entrance is normally £1 for visitors, but if you mention “Hammonds Ridge Ancient Woodlands” you will be invited to attend free of charge. This talk will provide a lot of information on trees in general, but will also consider specific threats to our native woodlands such as laurel, Japanese knotweed and rhododendron, etc. You are warmly invited to join our Friends group, who are trying to save precious wildlife areas in and around Burgess Hill for future generations to enjoy. Our full programme of walks, talks and other events, and details on how to join, can be found on our website (address above), or we will send a printed calendar on request if you telephone the above number. We meet at the Tesco roundabout gate at 10am on the third Sunday of every month to do practical conservation activities (scrub clearance, pond reclamation, hedge-laying, coppicing, etc.) on the Hammonds Ridge site.
The Friends Committee
History: More information will be added later this year.
Flora/Fauna: Further surveys will be conducted and the results included from 2010. Eggs of the rare brown hairstreak butterfly have been discovered in these hedges.
Geology/Geography: This section will be added ifrom 2011.