South Downs News - April 2024

South Downs News - April 2024


April 2024



As always please send your comments and ideas to

Click here to read a PDF version of South Downs News

PICTURE OF THE MONTH: The bluebell woods of the National Park are springing to life! This beauty was captured by Emma Varley. Here's a list of some of the best bluebell woods and remember to stick to the path to admire them!

If you have an amazing seasonal image, please do email us.

Big boost for nature as grants announced

Creating new havens for butterflies and barn owls, establishing new wetlands and saving the under-threat juniper tree are among the exciting projects to benefit from a funding boost of over £130,000.

Thirteen community-led projects across Hampshire and Sussex will be receiving a ReNature grant from the South Downs National Park Trust to help restore biodiversity

Find out more about the grants and the wildlife we're helping

Uncovering a valley's hidden past

Carbon dating has revealed that humans have been living in one corner of the South Downs for well over 3,000 years.

The Meon Valley Archaeology and Heritage Group has uncovered a series of incredible finds near the River Meon, in Hampshire. Find out more here.

Where will art take you this spring?

The popular Sussex Art Shuttle returns this spring and will again link Towner Eastbourne, Charleston in Firle, Seven Sisters Country Park and Charleston’s arts space in central Lewes, where a fantastic season of new exhibitions opens to coincide. Route 39 will run with four services a day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 27 October.

You can hop on for a single journey for just £2 or hop on and off for a day for £3.50! Find out more here.

Heath basking for mental health

We've all heard of forest bathing, but have you tried heathland basking to find your inner zen?

Find out more here!

Can you help shape the National Park?

Are you interested in helping to shape the future direction of the South Downs National Park?

The National Park Authority is striving to bring the voices of communities, sectors or groups whose voices are not often heard into our discussions.

Learn more here.

Admire views from a safe distance

Visitors to the National Park’s stunning coastline are being urged to stay safe after two significant cliff collapses in the space of just two weeks.

Learn more.

"Spring might actually be here"

Assistant Ranger Ethan Purdyshares his thoughts and reflections as spring starts to unfold.

Read his illuminating piece on as life as a ranger here!

Last chance to enter Design Awards!

The clock is counting down to the deadline for nominations for the 2024 South Downs Design Awards.

With just a few weeks to go until the closing date, people are being urged to get their nominations in for planning projects that showcase outstanding and innovative design and architecture in the National Park.

Find out more and make a nomination.

Happy 14th birthday!

The dream of many became a working reality when 1,600km2 of England’s most-cherished lowland landscape was designated for the nation as a special place for natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.

Fourteen years on it’s still as special.

As we mark the 14th birthday of your National Park, we look at 14 success stories for the UK’s youngest National Park. Learn more here.

Give big to help create more hedges for nature

Exciting news! South Downs Trust has been accepted on to the Big Give Green Match Fund again this year, which means that between 18-25 April, anything you give to us will be doubled!

We’re aiming to raise a whopping £10,000 in just one week and plan to use these funds for our Hedgehomes initiative - planting and maintaining our hedgerow network for nature to live and thrive.

To get involved please keep an eye on the South Downs Trust website and social channels.

Donate to create more hedgerow habitat

Win family pass to The D-Day Story museum!

Did you know this year marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings?

The South Downs and surrounding area have many connections to what was to be the decisive campaign of the Second World War. Some of the better-known locations are the embarkation points where troops boarded the ships and landing craft that would take them to Normandy, such as Portsmouth and Shoreham. Those troops had previously been waiting at “Marshalling Area” camps that were slightly inland, either within or close to the National Park boundary.

Most of these camps were concealed within woodland some distance from towns and cities, to hide them from spies or enemy reconnaissance aircraft.

Earlier in the war, many of those troops had been based in what is now the National Park. A significant proportion of the British, Canadian, American and other Allied troops who landed in Normandy on or after D-Day had not previously been in action. They had spent months, sometimes even years, training and preparing for battle. The South Downs offered many suitable spaces for carrying out such training exercises.

To mark the anniversary, we’ve teamed up with TheD-Day Story Museum in Southsea to offer a family ticket.

The museum is home to Landing Craft Tank 7074, the last surviving LCT which carried up to ten tanks on D-Day.

There will be an extensive events and activities throughout 2024 to commemorate the 80th anniversary including talks, livestreams, and tours. Visit A national commemoration takes place in Portsmouth on 5 June.

People signing up to the newsletter during April will be automatically entered into the draw.

Those who are already signed up can email “Operation Neptune” to before midnight on 30 April. Sign up to the newsletter here and see competition T&Cs here.

Meet Georgina Aboud, a writer from Eastbourne. In a new series of films and recordings called "Voices", we're sharing people's thoughts on the South Downs National Park and their connection to this amazing landscape.

Things to do in April

Find other events and activities across the National Park and submit your own. Please remember booking may be necessary and do check full details with the venue.

  • Are you aged 16-25 and want to make a difference for nature and the environment? Join the National Park team for a Youth Action Day on 10 April. We meet at Lewes Railway Station and walk 10 minutes to the Lewes Railway Land Trust nature reserve. During the afternoon, we will be using iNaturalist, which is a recording app for nature enthusiasts. You don’t need to be an expert in identification, just interested! The app is a great way to help you learn about nature if you are just starting out and a great way of helping us identify key species in the South Downs National Park. This event is part of a world-wide, annual event called the City Nature Challenge.
  • A new series of creative study walks are taking place this spring, exploring the history, geology and archaeological landscape at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne. The first in the monthly trio of walks kicks off in April, while in May, monthly creative writing workshops also make a welcome return.
  • The Fossils, Flags and Ancient Features on Beachy Head series begins with a Cow Gap, Gideon and Mrs Mantell: Fossils & Feminism walk on Monday 15 April. Gideon Mantell was a palaeontologist, and his wife Mary a fossil collector and scientific illustrator, who is credited with discovering the first evidence of an Iguanodon in Sussex. On Monday 20 May, the second creative study walk, entitled Communications from the Headland: Signallers and Structures, will investigate two centuries of communications archaeology on the headland, while working out how to identify the physical structural remains on the ground. Book tickets here.
  • Discover the Eggcellent Adventure Trail at Seven Sisters Country Park, near Seaford. Pick up an activity sheet from the visitor centre and follow the clues to track down wildlife species. There’s a small chocolate for finishing! The trail is open until 12 April
  • Did you know that the swallow flies back to the UK in April and the 15th is traditionally known as Swallow Day in England? A swallow-themed walk will take place from Langham Brewery, West Sussex, on 13 April.

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