Upper Pond Update

Pond Update: Restoration work at the Old Millpond is continuing and with the recent rain, it’s now filling up fast. Recently we put up a traditional chestnut pale fence around the northern side of the pond. There are two important reasons for this:

  1. We are partnering with Wakehurst Place, Kew to reintroduce a very rare plant called Starfruit (Damasomium alisma) into the pond.  Starfruit is currently extinct in Sussex and was last seen here in the 19th Century. It has a very particular set of habitat requirements, amazingly almost all of which are met by the Millpond. The one extra thing needed is a short period of grazing and poaching by cattle in the autumn. The new fence is a wonderful opportunity to start this, with our trusty herd of Dexters.
  1. Unfortunately what started as an occasional splash around in the pond by a few dogs has now become a regular pastime by a large number of dogs. We have reached a point now where the water is almost continually disturbed and turbid. This is frightening away the resident wildlife, which includes Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail, and preventing aquatic plants from growing. So we’re hoping the fence will also protect the northern side of the pond from excessive disturbance.

Starfruit plant (pic: Richard Lansdown)

Dogs are still able to have a splash in the pond on the south side, so we’re doing our best to keep wildlife and dogs happy! If you’d like to keep up-to-date on developments with the pond as they happen, you can sign up to our newsletter via www.steyningdownland.org (scroll to the bottom of the home page). And if you’re able to help our work in a practical way, just email sds@wistonestate.co.uk 

Photo of volunteers at tea break

SDS Conservation Volunteers


Vols clearing 1

The Conservation Volunteers have been busy clearing the footpath from Mill Lane Allotments up to Steyning Coombe.  We have also been carrying out maintenance on the fencing in Steyning Coombe to make sure that our heard of Dexter cattle don’t go exploring the Downs.  Our next session is on Saturday 16th July when we will be helping with the Big Seed Shake – meet on the Rifle Range at 10am.  There will also be some other jobs to do around the site in the afternoon.

Contact me if you would like further information or to join our group.   The group will meet again on Wednesday 3rd August.

Sarah Quantrill sdsvolunteers@gmail.com



Welcome to the Conservation Volunteers!

This is just a quick, introductory blog to ‘say hello’ from the Conservation Volunteers. Our next meeting is next Saturday, 19th March which will be in the Secret Garden over at Pepperscoombe. We’ll meet on Newham Lane at 10am where the 30mph sign is so that everyone can help carry up tools.  The job will be do the second rotational cutting – we did the first section last winter.  Looks like it will be a lovely sunny day!

30mph sign Newham Lane