A small, traditional cache hidden on a recently restored drove road.
A Landscape Shaped by Sheep
Shepherding and sheep grazing has rich history in the South Downs. The landscape itself has been shaped by centuries of livestock grazing, which has created the biodiverse chalk grasslands you can see today. The track this cache is hidden on is an old sheep drove; a historic trackway that shepherds would have used to run their sheep over the South Downs. It has been used for this purpose since at least medieval times, and more recently was the route shepherds used to take their sheep from Glynde to Lewes for the market.
As the landscape and agricultural practices changed over the years, the sunken track was fenced off and subsequently became lost beneath scrubby vegetation. SDNPA Rangers and volunteers worked with the Glynde Estate to clear this scrub and restore the droveway it to its former glory, allowing it to be appreciated once more. Wildflower seeds have been sewn along its banks, so that hopefully the track will develop into a fantastic wildflower path, attracting a wealth of wildlife.
Sheep farming is still an important activity in the South Downs today, both in continuing to shape the landscape, and as part of the rural economy. Nearly 37% of the National Park is permanent pasture, where approximately 120,000 sheep are grazed each year. This can sometimes conflict with the recreational use of the Park. As stated in the Countryside Code, it is essential to keep dogs under control around livestock to prevent sheep worrying or livestock deaths, especially during the lambing season. Of similar importance is picking up the waste your dog leaves behind, and disposing of it responsibly.
Continuing up the trackway and turning left at the top will take you to Mount Caburn, one of the best preserved and most important Bronze Age Hill forts in Sussex. The south-facing chalk slopes below also comprise the Lewes Downs National Nature Reserve, which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). A well as stunning views over the Lewes Brooks and over to the Kingston Ridge, the south-facing slopes make this a haven for warmth loving invertebrates such as butterflies and bees.
Thank you to Glynde Estate for permission to place this cache.