Things are finally happening on Bepton Down SSSI. In late 2017 following a complete and thorough cut of most of the scrub on all three sections, all the dead vegetation was removed. Then our local sheep farmer, Andrew Hodgkins, put nine teaser rams on the two main areas of the site where they should remain until the end of February. This should ensure a good start to the 2018 season as long as the amended management plan is adhered to.
On Friday 12th January, 2018, Matthew Dowse, Ranger for the Central Downs area of the South Downs National Park, put together a party of scrub clearers to tackle some of the brambles and other scrub on the northern most part of the Down. This is a small area which was partially reclaimed in the winter of 14/15 and was then again neglected. Unfortunately sheep cannot yet be allowed into this area as they would get entangled in the brambles.
Beatrice Potter, from the Bepton Down Conservation Group, joined Matthew, Becca, both from the SDNPA, and three volunteers to help in the clearance. Despite the rain in the morning a great deal was achieved in five hours. A number of stunted hawthorn trees complete with brambles and huge woody stems of Old Man’s Beard were felled, Matthew is excellent with a chainsaw. The lower fence line was cleared of invasive scrub by Becca using a brush cutter and a fairly large area of low growing brambles was also cleared. Matthew had a huge fire going which was welcome in the prevailing conditions.
This area looks a lot better than it did and it is hoped that cattle will be able to graze it and the rest of Bepton Down during the course of 2018.
I gather that Matthew is planning more sessions in the not too distant future and would welcome more volunteers from Bepton. All the tools are provided but one is advised to bring picnic items for lunch and the mid-morning break. When the dates are known these will be advertised on the notice board near the post box at the southern end of Bepton. Should anyone be interested I would be happy to hear from you and would contact you as soon as further dates are known. My email is: