The Story of Crowhurst Nature Reserve


Quarry Wood’s Warden, Paul Johnson, gave a talk at the AGM of Crowhurst & District Horticultural Society on 7th October 2016. Here are the slides outlining the history of our little Reserve and showcasing some of the beauty…




The London railway line used to split at Crowhurst, with one fork going to Hastings and one to Bexhill.
The Bexhill line was closed following the Beeching review in the 1960s. The track ran through what is now our little reserve.


The four and a half acre plot, known locally as Quarry Wood, was purchased by the village for the village in 1999 to preserve and protect it. This is the original sketch map of the wood, produced when the land was established as Crowhurst Nature Reserve.
It shows the line of the old railway.
You can also see a scrap of the old lane, adjusted to go up and over the train track when the railway was built (start of 1900s).

Related TQW article:  Life, the woodlands and everything 


The railway crossed the marshes on a glorious seventeen arch viaduct. It was blown up in 1969… the end of an lovely bit of architecture. (And just look how close those spectators were!!)
Crowhurst Station was also a piece of spectacular architecture, not dissimilar to the big, beautiful buildings at Battle and Bexhill. It was pulled down in the ’80s, to much local consternation. The current ticket office is not much more than the old shed.


There are still a few old brick arches dotted through Crowhurst, plotting the course of the old railway.
Near the station, just beyond where the lines diverged, there is an isolated arch simply sitting in a field – the railway went over the top. Look through and you can see the passage under the existing railway line.
At the top of Sampsons Lane, turn right onto the footpath towards Swainham Lane and you cross over the old train line on a long thin bridge.
And in Quarry Wood, the arch marks the southern-most edge, cars still going round the bend overhead.


This is the rock that put the ‘quarry’ into Quarry Wood: a steep rocky face around the pond, chunks of stone that have broken off.
The top right pic shows some of the sharp jutting stone as you go up “Sandrock Hill”; a little further into the village, notice “Sandrock Cottages” and “Sandrock Crescent”.


There’s even a cave lurking high up on the rock face at the southern edge of Quarry Wood… a deep, dark cave!


The fickle nature of our pond. Now you see it, now you don’t!
When full, the pond is about 100 yards in length, the water coming almost up to the bench. The small white dot in the centre of the picture on the right is Paul standing at the water’s edge in September; about half of the pond was completely dry and firm underfoot, then there was about 15 yards of boggy ground, and “the pond” was just a large puddle at the end.

Related TQW article:  Where has all the water gone?


Our first Woodland Festival celebrating Crowhurst Nature Reserve. We built a “Viking Hut”, which stood for many years after, and a bespoke wooden bench. The bench is still standing, but barely. It will have to be replaced soon.

Related TQW article: The Woodland Festival 2002


Here we are again eleven years on. We do enjoy our woodland festivals!
A joint venture with Crowhurst Community Arts, including pond dipping, bug boxes, dream catchers, woodland art and a fungi trail.

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Some of the wildlife that we see in Quarry Wood: the Frogspawn that we rescued last year; Reynard the Fox taking a stroll in the sunlight; a perfect Lady Bug and some busy Wasps building their nest in an old Rabbit hole.

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And some of the Quarry Wood Fauna that we see evidence of, even if we haven’t managed to photograph them ourselves.

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Our first Moth event with Ralph Hobbs of Powdermill Trust… an introduction to these beautiful insects at close quarters: Black Arches, Scalloped Oak, Large Emerald, Brimstone Moth and Micro, Rosy Footman and Buff Arches.

Related TQW article: Moth spotting 19/07/15


And some of the contestants in this year’s Lepidoptera beauty parade… Beautiful Golden Y, White Ermine, Blood Vein, Clouded Silver, Clouded Border, Buff Ermine, Green Oak Tortrix, Barred Straw.
Stay tuned – we hope to make this an annual event.

Related TQW article: Moth spotting 26/06/16


This summer, we were delighted to have a family of Moorhens – charming little black fluffballs, dashing across and around the pond, almost walking on water.


The very first sign of Spring flowers in Quarry Wood is a handful of primroses in a patch of sunshine by the gate.


Then come the Bluebells. Mainly the Native Bluebell, though we have hybrids on the Reserve too (unfortunately).


Crowhurst’s other Reserve, Fore Wood, is famed for its Bluebell displays. In April 2014, as part of Crowhurst Community Arts’ Four Seasons programme, Paul led a troop of villagers round to enjoy the sights, and to hear the tale of two Bluebells, Native and Spanish.

Related TQW article: Bluebell Walk 27/04/14


About the same time as the Bluebells, the Wild Garlic brings a familiar scent and creamy-white globes.
Quarry Wood has a small patch just below the cave.

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Next year’s globes in the making.


Our Early Purples come up every year – we have a perfect patch of about eight, they don’t seem to spread or multiply, but they are a reliable strike of purple glory.

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As Spring moves into Summer, more white flowers brighten up the woodlands – the crevice of the old lane is filled with Stitchwort, the paths are dotted with Blackthorn blossom, the Wild Strawberry spreads further every year, and the tiny tiny Bittercress waves by the pond.

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The Townhall clock plant is so called because of its cuboid appearance – four faces looking out – north, south, east and west. There’s a robust covering inside the “Viking Camp”.
Bugle and Speedwell spread a blue carpet throughout, and the slippers of the Cow-Wheat create a yellow bed under the big tree by the gate.


Hawthorne comes after Blackthorn, the hedges dance with the pinky-white delights. The Campion brings a bold pink, and the yellows get stronger as the season progresses.


Now a touch of mauve as the Ground Ivy creeps and the Vetch pops up. Vetch is a Pea and its appearance coincides with the Bogbean… peas and beans, anyone?


Some variation on the blue and white themes. This orchid comes after the Early Purples, it’s smaller and more delicate, and we just have a couple in Quarry Wood.


The Forget-me-nots by the bench manage simultaneous pink and blue; the Yellow Iris in the pond makes its statement; and there’s the odd little red gingerbread man.


Look… another angry little man in the centre of the Figwort!


..and some purple spikes and cascades to complete the woodland palette.


Our fabulous Ferns! One of the oldest plants on the planet – Quarry Wood has a remarkable display, officially endorsed and highly regarded by the Pteridological Society – the Fern experts.

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Mabon! Autumn approaches and we see some berries.

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And of course, Autumn salutes the Kingdom of the Fungi.

Related TQW article: Fungi trail 11/10/15


A warm, dry September and there is only a few fungi so far this year. Check the Facebook page to see what else we spy…

Related TQW article: Katia, Lucrezia, Titania & Flopsy


Regular tasks include keeping the footpaths clear, picking up litter, managing pond overgrowth and dealing with any tree casualties (the shallow terrain means we often lose trees in the wind).
When a Willow falls into the pond, it sends down roots and regrows horizontally, creating a beautiful screen… but sucking up so much water.
In September, we finally managed to deal with a big tree that fell into the pond a couple of years ago. It had been tackled several times before, to no avail (see centre left pic: the team falling backwards when the rope gave way); high water and nesting season confounded surgery until now.


Stick to the Woodland Code and enjoy our lovely little Reserve.


Image Credits: Original Quarry Wood original photography: Lorna Neville; except Working Party Pics: Paul Johnson/ Will Kemp.
Badger by Cloudtail the Snow Leopard, CC2.0; Rabbits “Well, now you’re late!” by Porsupah Ree, CC2.0; Frog by Sami Nurmi, CC2.0; Roe Deer 179 by slghmanb; CC2.0.



Moth Spotting 07/05/17

Moth spotting 26/06/16