Bepton Down in days gone by.

Then there was the chap who could be found on the Bepton Down every year at different times. His hobby was counting the orchids! He would turn up at the height of the flowering of each of the six types of orchids present and count them by using a grid system. To his delight (and ours) year on year he found they were increasing in number.

At that time the Access Area and the field above it were devoid of scrub. The area to the right of the restricted byway leading up to the lower kissing gate from the village of Bepton was incorporated into the main Access Area by the main fence line which ran along side the byway. It too supported many types of wild flowers and orchids.

Then times changed and new farming methods came in which meant that farm managers were no longer required. Gradually Bepton Down was forgotten and neglected. Scrub took over and the old fence line vanished under a seemingly impenetrable jungle of brambles, nettles and other more tenacious tree seedlings hell bent on taking over. Needless to say the piper did not return and sadly the orchid counter gave up too.

At some point a new fence line some way above the old was created using sheep wire. This is still in place though overgrown in many places as cascades of brambles, hawthorn and plants such as Mallow (which depend on rich soil) tumble over it obscuring it from view in many areas. Over the years this scrub has been allowed to take over and it is now widespread within the whole of the SSSI. The orchids still struggle to survive but really they are crying out for someone to care enough to cut the whole area at an appropriate time of year so that they are no longer stifled. They would also be grateful to those who might care enough to cut down the undesirable vegetation to then remove it so that it does not enrich the soil through decomposition thus depriving them of their ideal conditions for survival.

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