IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY . . .
. . . in Rotherfield Lane, you’re sure of a big surprise! Jubilee Wood, adjacent to Mayfield bypass and sitting either side of the old railway bridge in the Lane, has, in recent weeks, undergone a facelift, in the form of a new Woodland Nature Trail and recreation area for local residents and their families.
Originally shown as a field on the 1878 OS map, prior to the construction of the rail track, the 1899 OS map depicts the woodland as an embankment for the Eridge to Polegate ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway, which closed in 1968, and along the route of which now runs the bypass, opened in 1991. It is not classified as a ‘Semi- natural Ancient Woodland’, but it is designated ‘a habitat of principal importance’ as a lowland deciduous woodland. Until now it has been neglected and ill-used, but an ecological assessment has observed that this could be reversed with appropriate woodland management.
Owned for some years by Mayfield and Five Ashes Parish Council, it has long been the Council’s intention to do more with the Wood. The “back to nature” approach, resulting from the Pandemic and recent lockdowns, has given added impetus to making progress with the proposal, using a reserve fund set aside for the development. Under the leadership of Project Manager, Ros Hetreed, on behalf of the Parish Council, the north- western area of woodland is now being developed, thanks to the generous time and skill of several volunteers. These include Clive Gray, from Fir Toll Road, a Council contractor, who, at ‘mates’ rates’, has helped with the work “for the sake of the children of Mayfield”. Ken Audsley, an experienced woodsman and greensman, and a resident of nearby Love Lane, has kindly agreed to caretake the woodland in his own time and Graham Holland, helped Ken make some of the rounded timber seats.
The main Woodland Nature Trail is now open but is still a ‘work in progress’. The Council is keen to emphasise that the main trail is being constructed particularly with children in mind, as a safe and interesting place for them to learn about nature. It presents a great way for them to discover the delights of a natural woodland, with information boards on woodland plants and associated ecology and even a ‘bug hotel’.
Consisting of a mixture of beech, ash, birch and hazel, Ken says that now the canopy has been opened up on the main Woodland Trail, by the removal of dead and diseased trees, many trees will improve their habit as their branches are allowed to grow sideways. Equally, the woodland floor should benefit, and hopefully spring flowers, such as bluebells and primroses will be encouraged to spread. During the coming spring and summer months, it will also be interesting to note the wildlife it attracts. Tawny owls and great spotted woodpeckers have already been heard, and the plan is to install bat and owl boxes on some of the trees, along with the bird boxes recently provided.
The Woodland Trail is a short undulating trail, which has been thoughtfully provided with handrails for children and those more physically challenged, but there is also a circular path, which follows the most level areas within the woodland.
As you will see from the photo of Mayfield Beavers, who recently visited it and sat around the firepit, there is much fun to be had and the Council will be pleased to receive any helpful suggestions to further enhance this new and exciting woodland experience.