Into the Woods! Stedham Common and The Severals. 01.07.22.
After visiting Iping Common on 01.07.22, I visited Stedham Common, just to the east of Iping Common, forming part of a wider area of contiguous lowland heath on Lower Greensand and I walked through Stedham Common and The Severals (wooded heathland) to get back Midhurst, to catch the bus back to Chichester (and get the train to Brighton). This blog post focusses on recording my walk through the wooded heathland. The photographs are in chronological order. All sections of text in italics are quotations, with sources given.
A large area of former common land to the south of Stedham Common was lost to the Minsted sand pit after the Second World War and above this sand pit (fenced off) much of the common is forested for timber. When the Trust took over the management of Stedham Common there were large blocks of pine trees planted for timber, much of which has now been cleared and heathland restored in its place. Those that remain provide a rich hunting ground for fungi in the autumn. A less welcome plant is the birch tree, rapidly threatening to take over the open landscape and shade out this fragile habitat. The birch needs to be controlled by hand on a regular basis, but the key to the patchy open nature and regular occurrence of bare soil lies in the use of grazing animals, the very management that created open heathland in the first place Sussex Wildlife Trust Iping and Stedham Commons reservepages.qxd (dnu7gk7p9afoo.cloudfront.net)
The Severals was threatened with a proposal to develop more sand quarries, but local citizens won a campaign opposing the quarries, see Victory as sand quarries proposals for the Severals are dropped | SussexWorld (sussexexpress.co.uk)
Whilst the pines are non-native, and there are some invasive non-native species, like Rhododendron, the paths through the woods offer some extraordinary treescapes, and looking at the ground, the lower greensand outcrop is still visible. At points the sand pit and now disused engineering can be seen (the sand pit is still a commercial concern).
Sedham Commons blends into Midhurst Common. Running through the common is the Serpent Trail, which I followed for some of its way, back to Midhurst.
Map from South Downs Walks: The Serpent Trail
Explore the heathlands of the South Downs by following the 65 mile long Serpent Trail.
Heathlands are now rarer than rainforest and one of our most threatened habitats, covering only 1% (1,595 hectares) of the South Downs National Park.
The 65 mile / 106 km Serpent Trail is a walking route designed to highlight the outstanding landscape, wildlife and history of the greensand hills. Passing through purple heather, green woods and golden valleys, simply follow the Serpent Trail way marker discs to explore some of the most breathtaking countryside in the South East. Serpent Trail - South Downs National Park Authority