Ebernoe Common nature reserve near Petworth
Varied ancient wood pasture with ponds, streams, meadows and reclaimed arable land under conversion back to woodland
|Ebernoe is a superb example of a Low Weald woodland
with a history of traditional use. For centuries it was wood pasture, where
commoners would turn out their cattle or pigs to graze and browse on young
trees and scrub, beech mast and acorns, or on the grassy meadows in clearings.
The Trust purchased 75 hectares of the reserve in 1980 when much of the
woodland was under threat of destruction. At that time many of the glades
and rides had become overgrown with rank grasses and bracken, but repeated
mowing and raking by volunteers has seen the return of a rich and varied
flora: devil’s-bit scabious, adder’s-tongue fern and many orchids.
What you can see
Orchids and other woodland and meadow flowers, adder's-tongue fern,
nightingales, woodcock, purple emperor and silver-washed fritillary butterflies,
rare fungi and lichens, dormice and bats.
Ancient woodland accounts for about half of this 156 hectare reserve – a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation, and a National Nature Reserve. It is easy to get lost in the complex system of paths and rides, but the best starting place is from the car park next to the church off Streel’s Lane – that way just heading north should bring you back! The ground is flat, but can be muddy, and there are one or two stiles in the boundary fences. The areas to the east and south are farmland under conversion to pasture woodland, with many footpaths providing pleasant walks throughout, best accessed from the Balls Cross-Northchapel road.
photo Mark Monk-Terry
Nearby SWT reserves