|Picture Credit: “File:Valebridge Pond – geograph.org.uk – 843905.jpg” by Simon Carey is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0|
Ancient Woodland, Wildflower Meadows and a Mill Pond
At 33 hectares (80 acres), Bedelands Local Nature Reserve is the largest green site in Burgess Hill. Owned by Mid Sussex District Council, it lies at the north-east of the town. It is signposted from Maple Drive and Valebridge Road. Access to it is from the playing fields next to Burgess Hill Town Football Club, off Maple Drive, and from Coopers Close. Other entry points are from a footpath near Valebridge Close and from beneath the viaduct in Valebridge Road.
The area comprises several areas of ancient woodland (such as Big Wood), wildflower meadows, hedgerows and a large mill pond. The meadows have never been ploughed and support a wide variety of wildflowers, including some rare species. The woods are broadleaf, with much hornbeam and hazel understorey. Mid Sussex District Council owns the site, and the Friends of Burgess Hill Green Circle Network help to maintain it.
Said to have originally been part of the Manor of Keymer, it was farmed as pasture before its ownership by Mid Sussex District Council. There are seven meadows set in ancient woodlands, with a great profusion of wildlife, including the protected Hazel Dormouse. Wildflowers are abundant, so much so that the Millennium Seedbank and High Weald Landscape Trust both harvest seeds here. Wildflower meadows like these are becoming increasingly rare in the UK, with only about three per cent of their original number surviving today.
The Nature Reserve consists of ancient meadows, woodland, hedgerows, and ponds. Since 1994, in consultation with the District Council and the University of Sussex, the Friends group has been surveying the wildlife and keeping records so that a comprehensive management plan can be devised and implemented to conserve all the flora and fauna for the public’s enjoyment.
The Nature Reserve is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). Valebridge Meadow was designated a Coronation Meadow in 2013.
The River Adur and a large Mill Pond run along the northern boundary, with the London to Brighton railway along the eastern side.
There are a few smaller ponds and a fenced Dipping Pond, complete with platform, which children’s groups and schools frequently book.
This beautiful site is regularly enjoyed both by local residents and by visitors from further afield.
Bedelands Farm Crossing
You’ll find a simple foot crossing over the main railway line just to the North of Wiveslfield Station on the northern edge of Burgess Hill at World’s End. A stile on either side of the line needs to be crossed to access the foot crossing.
It is about a seven-minute walk from Wivelsfield Station, looking to the south from the crossing. And, if you look to the North, you can just about see Haywards Heath station through the tunnel in the distance.
Access is via a walk through the paths and fields of Bedelands Nature reserve or down the path from Valebridge Road, where there is limited parking.
Take a walk through Bedelands with Richard Vobes
Picture Credit: This is a screenshot from that video shown above. All rights of Richard Vobes and The BaldExplorer are duly acknowledged.
You can watch Richard Vobes (aka The Bald Explorer) as he wanders through Bedelands on YouTube here.
The area has a diverse array of bird species like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Green Woodpecker, Long-eared Owl, Sparrowhawk, Mistle Thrush, Common Raven, Eurasian Kestrel and Eurasian Treecreeper. Check out the bird list at: https://www.birdingplaces.eu/en/birdingplaces/united-kingdom/bedelands-nature-reserve
Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve
Sources and Further Reading
- Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dcqMx2XRpU