THE NATURE RESERVE
A wild place in the heart of Lewes
This urban wildlife haven can be found in the heart Lewes, just off Cliffe High Street and close to the train station.
Right next to the meandering River Ouse, it makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the town.
Nestling on the flood plain of the River Ouse, the reserve was once a busy railway marshalling yard that has now been reclaimed by nature. The area where the railway sidings once stood is now crammed with wildflowers which buzz with life. The reserve also boasts 4 distinct water habitats that are vital to different forms of wildlife:
All of these habitats are fed by Winterbourne stream, which flows through the middle of the reserve and under giant tidal sluice gates into the River Ouse. This chalk stream is fed by water which has filtered through the surrounding Downland chalk hills and only runs when it’s been raining. In winter the stream regularly overflows and fills these habitats with fresh water, keeping them in top condition. A large Victorian house, Leighside, once stood in the woodland; the Leighside Estate had formal gardens and landscaped fishponds which were interspersed with large railway Poplars and some exotic specimens, including a fantastic Holm Oak and Swamp Cyprus.
The nature reserve is owned and managed by Lewes District Council, in close partnership with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust.
• Wet woodland, important for mosses and lichens.
• Reed bed, called the Heart of Reeds, which in summer is heaving with singing reed warblers.
• Ponds, home to newts and fish.
• Floodplain grassland, made up of a system of ditches that are jam-packed with aquatic invertebrates.
There is a network of footpaths across the reserve including a disabled access surfaced path and some woodland and grass paths. All footpaths are permissive. There are no public rights of way.
There is a public car park located nearby on Court Road.
Walking, Cycling and Dog Walking are permitted
Sussex Ouse Valley Way, a 42 mile way marked
walk on permissive paths through the river valley.
Railway Land Location
This urban wildlife haven can be found in the heart Lewes, just off the high street and behind the train station.
Right next to the meandering River Ouse it makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the town.
Map Reference: TQ 419 100