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Walks & Wildlife

In this section you will find our local Farm Walks, What to Look Out For and information about Guided Walks on the ecology of the area.




Probably one of the best reasons to visit us at Kent Border Cottages is just to enjoy our beautiful countryside.

We have several walks around our farm and across neighbouring farms on footpaths and bridle paths without you ever having to go near a main road.

Walk 1. To our Lakes and Back (Just under 1 mile)

From the farm, you will walk along our private lane for about 300yds and then turn left going through the pedestrian gate and follow the grassed but hard track down the hill to the lakes. There are mown grass paths around the lakes and a couple of bench seats should you wish to sit awhile.

Walk 2. The Bridal Path (1.5 miles)

From the farm, walk east down our private lane and continue past the entrance gate to the lakes and then on past Holywich Cottage until the lane bends sharply to the right. At that corner, on the left you will find a footpath between two hedges. Take this heading north and proceed on down the hill. At the bottom you will find a bridge over the Kent Water river and the Kent border path heading west along it –upstream! Take this and then follow the north side of the river for just over half a mile until you find another bridge crossing the river back to the south side. Then follow the fenced off path back to the farm.

Walk 3. The Kent Water Walk (approx. 3 .5 miles)

From the farm walk east down our private lane and continue past the entrance gate to the lakes and then on past Holywich Cottage until the lane bends sharply to the right. At this point carry straight on, on the footpath into the country. Proceed for another half a mile of so until you reach Tolhurst farm. Then turn left and go north for about 100 yards until you meet the Kent Water River. Then turn left and head west (upstream) along the south side of the Kent water, before crossing the bridge to the north side (as in Walk 2) and continuing, following the Kent Border path all the way back to the Bridge just below our farm.

View from Kent Border cottages to the Kent Border path in the valley below us.

View from Kent Border cottages to the Kent Border path
in the valley below us



ENTOMOLOGY – As an angling instructor and fishery consultant I take a particular interest in the natural fly life and pond life in and around the lakes. April to June is the best time of the year for this and on my guided walks I do a pond dipping session using a small portable aquarium made for the purpose, so that you can get up close to study and learn about some of the fascinating creatures that dwell in the lakes. We have an abundance of pond skaters, water boatmen, freshwater snails, caddis, dragon and damsel flies, olives and a prolific hatch of the quintessential anglers fly the Mayfly - the dance of the Mayfly Spinner is something very magical.

MAMMALS – On your walks around the farm and lakes you are quite likely to see wild Deer, especially at first light. Generally they are Fallow Deer but occasional Roe are spotted particularly in the woodland over towards Tolhurst Farm. (If you want see more Deer then a trip to Ashdown Forest is a must) You can also see Rabbits, occasionally a Water Vole - though their arch enemy the Mink are also sadly found on the Kent Water so the vole numbers have dropped in recent years.

We also have Foxes and Badgers and the occasional Brown Hare in the valley. Oh and one report from a neighbour the year before last even suggested he’d seen some Wild Boar down by my lakes. Not impossible as they were reintroduced in Sussex a while back and they are nocturnal, but I think he had just returned from a late night party so I am just a little sceptical about this sighting!

BIRDS – I am very keen on the wild birds in these parts and there are feeders to encourage the smaller birds to stay.

On my feeders you should see many of the smaller British birds such as Tits – Coal, Great, long tailed and Blue, Sparrows, Dunnock, Robins, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail, Wrens, Nuthatch. Bigger visitors to the feeder are the Greater and Lesser spotted Woodpecker – we have Green Woodpeckers around too but they don’t seem to like the feeders – Magpie and rooks also visit but they are not so welcome!

Around the buildings and adjacent trees look out for our Tree Creeper, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail (with the yellow tummy) the true Yellow Wagtail and the little Jenny Wren.

Down at the lakes you should see one of several pairs of Kingfishers, Herons, Duck – Mallard and our Carolina Wood Ducks that visit us every year, the occasional Teal, and Tufted Duck, Coots, Moorhens, Reed Warbler and of course the ubiquitous White Swans as well as Canada or Greylag Geese. I was even lucky enough just a few years back to be visited for a few days by the extremely rare Bittern - probably stopping for a rest on its migration from the Norfolk Broads to the continent.

Out on the fields and hedgerows look out for Pheasants and Partridges (though sadly I haven’t seen a Grey Partridge here for a number of years only the French Red-Legged Partridge) Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Blackbirds, Redwing, Lapwing, Skylark, Swifts, Swallows and Martins –particularly in the Mayfly season

If Birds of prey are your thing, we have a resident Barn Owl – how fantastic to watch it quartering on a summers evening at dusk out on our fields - Little Owls, Buzzards, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Cuckoo and the occasional Osprey passes over the farm travelling between the bigger waters such as Weir Wood and Bewl.

Don’t forget finally if you really are a died-in-the-wool, dedicated twitcher, take time out locally to visit the Ashdown Forest to try to catch a glimpse of the now endangered Dartford Warbler and Nightjar and then pop over to Weir Wood in Forest Row (15 minutes from us at Kent Border Cottages) to see one of the best SSSI Bird sanctuaries in these parts

WILDLIFE & FLOWERS - A Year at Little Saxbys farm

Though there is always something special about a cold winter’s day and the glow of a lovely log burning stove, by mid-February I am usually searching for the signs that warmer weather is on the way.

For many years I have kept a record of such things like the first frog spawn (a good indicator that it is time to plant my potatoes!) the return of our Carolina Wood Ducks and the Swallows from Africa, the first snow drops, the first hatch of Mayfly on the lakes etc. Interestingly the timings of each vary very little, a matter of a few days only, despite the weather. I think it has more to do with the light hours.

This year 2015, I am going to post some of the hopefully interesting ones on here.

28th January – the first of our Snow Drops came into flower. These lovely wild flowers abound around my lakes and along the river banks and brave the coldest weather to give the first sign of life to the year.

20th February – The first of our daffodils – not strictly a wild flower I know but a welcome first flash of colour to herald spring. We have a few Crocuses too but most of these get eaten by slugs!

28th February – The first wild primrose broke bud and bloomed. We seem to have quite a few of  truly wild primroses (not the cultivated Primula found in your Garden Centre)  in this area as well as their close relation the cowslips.

April & May - The very best of our wild flowers in the Kent Sussex Weald really start to bloom from the equinox (equal night and daylight hours) on March 21st.

First out to line our river banks with a blaze of white and fill the air with a smell familiar to any chef, is the Wild Garlic. The younger leaves are excellent in salads or stews!

Wild Garlic

Also cheering up our hedgerows at this time are the Field Mousear (Recognisable from the mousey ear like petals) Stitchwort, Yellow Archangel, one of the sweet nettle family, the blue Ground Ivy (often identified incorrectly as violets) and the lovely, blue-spear- flowered Bugle.
Field Mousear

As April warms, we all especially look forward to the flowering of the Bluebells. There are woods all around these parts completely carpeted with royal blue rippling like waves in a breeze, offset by the vivid yellowy green of the emerging tree leaf. This rugged little native also shows up all over the farm in the hedgerows and stream sides. It is such a joy on any walk and worth a special visit to the area just to enjoy them.

On the bird front, everyone in the garden is preparing for the nesting season… The swallows and Martins are home again from North Africa, busy making their mud bowls high in the eaves of our out buildings. The little Jenny Wren has chosen a small hole in the barge board under the gutter of Kent View. Gold Finches, Chaffinches, Blue & Great Tits, Yellow Hammer and Wagtails are all hard at work in the hedgerow outside the house.

Out in the fields, Sky Larks chatter loudly high in the sky before plunging to the ground in silence to their cleverly concealed den. Many suggest they are in decline but not so here.

We haven’t seen the Barn Owls yet this year, but I do so hope they return as they are such a fantastic sight quartering in the dusk of a summers evening. My worry is the ever increasing number of Buzzards hereabouts.

Around my lakes as May takes over from April, the waterside encourages a number of aquatic plant species during the year. The wild iris is always first up, glowing gold-like in the early morning sun as Mr Heron stalks frogs and Toads and any small fish silly enough to venture too close. Clever though, the wily old heron? They can secrete an oil on the water to conceal their presence and will often fish in groups one driving the fish towards others standing motionless in wait. A water-world equivalent of a driven pheasant I suppose!

Mr Heron is quickly away though at the sight of me and the dogs on the early morning walk. With a squawk, he expresses his disgust at a fishing session interrupted, but then he knows I am no fan if he starts taking my trout!

Not so shy these days are our Wood-Ducks, ferrying provisions to and from their secret hideaway in the top of an old alder. Moorhen and Mallard are also busy spring cleaning their summer houses. The Mallard are giving it another try this year after a total loss last year, but I do wish Mrs would wise-up and be a little more selective about nesting sites. 2ft off the main path is really not very imaginative and the Magpies and Mr Fox don’t miss obvious targets like that.

On a warm day it is not long before aquatic flies like the Alder, Sedge, Damsel and the appropriately named Mayfly all start to hatch. They all know there is safety in numbers and wait before hatching together - How do they know the moment to go I wonder? But as soon as a hatch begins, out come not only the trout to gorge themselves on this sudden abundance of food, but the Martins and Swallows too, whirling high in the sky before swooping to pick off the Mayfly in particular. They seem excited by the challenge and the display of flying skills is like an aerial dogfight.







If you have a particular interest in any of the topography, geology, ecology, entomology, flora or fauna of the area we may be able to arrange guided walks or escorted visits for you. Please enquire before you book.

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