Crowhurst Nature Reserve is a four and a half acre community-owned woodland in Crowhurst, East Sussex, known locally as Quarry Wood. It was bought by the village for the village in 1999 to protect and preserve it.

Paul Johnson is the warden and has been writing a series of articles called Tales from Quarry Wood for the village magazine since 2008. Our little reserve is the central thread and star turn, but his themes often range further, taking in ecology, botany, mycology, history, mythology, Latin and literature. All with a healthy dose of irreverence and the odd bit of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Click here for more about Paul and Crowhurst Nature Reserve; the most recent article is below  and you can explore all the previous articles through the chronological year tabs above or take a more meandering approach using the tags.


Open Day postponed

It hasn’t stopped raining all week and Sunday’s forecast is for even heavier rain and wind gusts of up to 45mph… it just isn’t safe to have an event in the woods in these conditions.

We have rescheduled for two weeks later – Sunday 13th October, everything else remains the same. The plan is for us to start off with Moths, opening the trap at 10am to find what sleeping lepidopteral delights have visited overnight; then a guided History Tour with the Warden; a Fungi Trail if there is a good display (this bit of rain might improve the chances of that!); a couple of bespoke detective quizzes for the youngsters and some woodland spotter guides for self-guided tours; lots of nature and conservation information; the Brownies completing their Autumn Badge; and finishing off with music round the camp fire.

Fingers crossed, everything crossed for better weather for our second attempt…

Twenty years on!

Hello everyone! Those of you lovely people who look in on our website will know that it has much more than just my scribbles in glorious colour.  There is also a gallery of stunning photos showing the Reserve through the seasons, our full moth list so far, various maps and some evocative descriptions of our little reserve. This month I am going to cheat a little bit in my scribble and use a piece written by Lorna, Guardian of the Website.

Crowhurst Nature Reserve is a four-and-a-half-acre community-owned woodland in Crowhurst (East Sussex), known locally as Quarry Wood. It was bought by the village for the village in 1999 to protect and preserve it. It is jointly managed by the Crowhurst Society and Powdermill Trust.

This beautiful little wood is at the southern end of Crowhurst, on Sandrock Hill, on your left if you’re going towards Hastings

Its history and shape are inextricably linked to the Crowhurst to Bexhill railway line, which ran through here from 1902 to 1964. Before then, the road had a much more gentle curve, and there is still a little of the old lane just inside the gate on the left. It is likely that it was the construction of the railway that put the “quarry” into Quarry Wood, with significant sandstone blasting and earthworks required to accommodate the train track. At the southern-most boundary, the striking Victorian brick arch bridge is a reminder of the railway, and the route of the track is evident in the straight tree-lined corridor.

The Reserve is classed as a newly colonised wood, with most of the trees and plants establishing themselves after the closure of the railway and de-industrialisation, almost untouched since the 1960s. This makes it a remarkable case study in woodland development.

In the last twenty years, the Reserve has been sensitively managed by a group of local volunteers: clearance to make it accessible and safe; creating pathways, benches and glades; nature-based community events; and an ongoing species-monitoring programme to gradually build the conservation portfolio. It has a highly regarded fernery and a superb diversity of fungi, the accredited moth list is growing, the pond is measured fortnightly, there is an Ash Die-back monitoring zone, and a new bird-watching area has been opened up on the top tier. Many different birds fill the woodland canopy, and there is a plethora of insects and pondlife; there are resident rabbits, squirrels and badgers, and signs of foxes and deer passing through regularly.

A beautiful little Nature Reserve, rich in history, geology, ecology, biodiversity, conservation, trees, birds, flowers and fungi … enjoy!

Nicely put Lorna! A very different picture to the land the village purchased twenty years ago. Transforming that neglected corner of overgrown woodland into the wonderful little community nature reserve we have now has taken a lot of hard work, most of which has been enjoyable and all of it immensely rewarding. Copious amounts of rubbish had to be cleared, undergrowth thinned, and footpaths established.

Over the years we have had a huge input from various groups, both from the village and beyond. Notable, amongst them have been the Powdermill Trust for Nature Conservation who have been there from the start providing guidelines, inspiration and sage counsel regarding the management of a nature reserve.

Providing the community input have been our very own Arty Farties, who have also been there from the beginning. They organised the grand opening back in ’02 with four days of nature-based arts and crafts, culminating in a fun-packed day of activities and music (see Then and Now, May 2013). Since then we have enjoyed two further events, the Family Fun Day of 2013, and the Woodlands Arts Festival of 2017, which celebrated the Arties’ 100th event.

Of course, none of it would have been possible without the Crowhurst Society organising the purchase of the land and continuing to deal with the administration, and much more, with quiet efficiency.

Yes, Dear Reader, we have achieved a lot thus far, and, as mentioned last month, we feel this should be recognised by marking two decades of Quarry Wood with an Open Day on Sunday 29th September. Do come along to help celebrate twenty successful years of community conservation and look forward to a future where we can enjoy the benefits of protecting our fauna and flora on our little reserve.

– Paul Johnson

The Rains Came!

Hello everyone! June was also noteworthy for the first of the summer storms, giving many people in Sussex the nearest thing to experiencing a night in Thrudheim during one of Thor’s temper tantrums. The rain, while almost certainly being the wrong kind, had quite the impact on the local Fauna and Flora. Trees which were starting to take on a decidedly jaded appearance are now glowing with newfound vim and vigour, while the Ferns on the recently, de-brambled rockface in our little reserve now display their fronds with a haughty demeanour like so many verdant Fleurs-de-Lis.

[read in full…]

The Twin Goddesses

Hello everyone! During one of several moments in the course of a day when my mind wanders off into the ether and I find myself pondering the imponderables, I often turn to wordplay and consider the foibles of our beloved language. Today I was thinking of all those pairings that only sound correct when voiced in a certain order. It seems almost inconceivable to talk about white and black, drink and food, mash and bangers and, heaven forbid Wise and Morecambe! On reflection, it would not be earth shattering if the sequence of any of the above was, to paraphrase a certain Lancastrian gentleman, not necessarily in the right order!

[read in full…]