On Friday the 30th March Jackie, Steve and I went out to join a guided tour of the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Eridge Rocks Reserve.
The outcrop is 138m years old and was formed in what was a huge delta as meandering, seasonal rivers carried the silty sands down from dry land somewhere just north of London. Deposits of this type have a distinctive bedding form called Current Bedding, and here are two members of Brighton and Hove Geological Society discussing the bedding with our geologist guide for the day (in orange).
The Victorians thought this was a great place, but felt that if they were going to drive out here with a picnic hamper and the servants then the place needed something extra. So they planted conifers like this one and lots of rhododendron (carefully removed by modern conservators). The evergreen rhodo . . . is removed to open up the rock to provide the sort of habitat that is preferred by the extraordinarily rare, tiny and dull-looking Tunbridge Wells Filmy Fern (OK, I’ve only seen pictures, but its a small green fern, how exciting can that be?)
An archaeologist with us explained that early humans had used the shallow caves at the foot of the exposed rocks as shelters when out hunting game, and she said that excavations had proved this.
Not every tree in front of the rocks has been removed, this old one was clearly left on purpose, as it has a small metal disc complete with identification number attached.
After the walk and talk the Wildlife Trust provided us with thick vegetable soup, buttered rolls and cake. As we ate a couple of rock climbers appeared and started ‘bouldering’ – that is climbing up the near smooth surfaces using finger tips and soft rubber boots for friction. Its a strenuous activity with much falling off – onto carefully placed thick soft mattresses. So a cabaret thrown in as well. What a fine half-day out.