Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Autumn is upon us ..

10th October 2013

Autumn is upon us but the sun is still shinning here on the South Downs Way. The shorts haven’t been put away just yet! This is my favourite time of year on the trail. The trail itself is in great condition, nice and dry, but the large events and busyness of the holidays is over.

I’d like to say that this is a busy time of year for trail officers, implying there’s a quite time, but unfortunately we’re busy all the time. Right now I’m trying to make the most of this continuing dry weather by sorting out the remaining track resurfacing jobs. The South Downs is hardly remote, but you’d be surprised how inaccessible some sections of the trail are when trying to get hundreds of tons of material delivered. Work starts soon (mid October - November) on repairing severe rabbit damage to a section of trail near Balmer Down in East Sussex. Please look out for updates on this site.

This is also the time of year when we start clearing back scrub from along the trail and opening up those sections that have started to get a little too narrow. With the help of our National Park Rangers and an army of volunteers we not only clear back scrub from the trail edge but also open up larger areas along the trail corridor. This work is vital to help restore, enlarge and connect fragmented areas of species rich chalk grassland, an important habitat for rare plants and insects including butterflies. Talking of which it has been an exceptional year for butterflies along the South Downs Way this summer. Some of our rare species such as the Long Tailed Blue butterfly  have been found at a number of new sites and rare migrates from Europe including the European Swallow Tail came over in large numbers and were seen along the trail.

Now we’re in autumn look out for pheasants, especially in the central wooded part of the trail. The shooting season has started, so you may will hear or come across shoots near the trail. Pheasants also have a habit of running in front of your bike if you’re cycling the South Downs Way, so stay alert!

My tip of the month is to get up on the trail early on the morning and enjoy walking in the sunshine looking down on the autumn mist and fog in the valleys below. Don’t forget you camera and send us your shots!


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Long Tailed Blue butterfly -  Credit: Neil Hulme
Long Tailed Blue butterfly - Credit Neil Hulme