Landport Bottom Nature Reserve

This nature reserve is managed in close partnership with  Lewes Town Council.

To learn more about Landport Bottom Nature Reserve, visit our YouTube channel.

Location

On the rolling downs above Lewes this reserve offers panoramic views across the town, the South Downs and the meandering River Ouse. These gentle grassland slopes are a gateway to the downs and a special place for both people and wildlife.

Nevill Road, Lewes, BN7 1UR    Map Reference: TQ 396 110

Access

These grassland meadows are a place for quiet recreation. There are a number of informal paths and one public bridleway and public footpath leading from Nevill Road.

Parking: There is a small lay-by on Nevill Road.

Recreation: Walking, dog walking, cycling and horse riding are permitted. Be aware, livestock grazing. Dogs must be kept under control at all times, especially when livestock is present. Report any sheep emergency to  Plumpton College on 01273 890454.

Walks: Public footpaths lead up onto the downs towards Mount Harry and linking to the South Downs Way.

Wildlife

Once part of an intensively farmed landscape, traditional grazing is now helping to restore this nationally important chalk grassland to its former glory. The traditional English Southdowns Sheep is being grazed here. Originally bred for meat by John Ellman of Glynde, near to Lewes around 200 years ago, this breed is now used in traditional conservation grazing. The grazing helps to create a mosaic of habitats which benefits a variety of chalk downland wildlife. Flowering plants such as Lady’s Bedstraw, Fairy Flax and Dropwort provide an important nectar source for insects, especially bees and butterflies. Common Blue, Painted Lady and Gate Keeper are all species of butterfly that can be seen here during the summer.

Ground nesting birds such as Skylark use the long grass to hide their nests. Due to changes in farming practices this species has seen a recent and dramatic decline in population making it a Red List Species. But conservation areas like this one across the South Downs are going someway to protecting this iconic songster.

Wildlife Designations:
Partly Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI).

History

Battle of Lewes   On the 14th May 1264 two armies clashed! The rebel army under Simon de Montfort occupied these hills above the town and Henry III’s army marched out to meet them. At stake, the Kings right to rule without taking advice from his subjects. From the Kings army, a devastating cavalry charge led by Prince Edward shattered the rebel left wing. But de Montfort’s army rallied and were able to push the King’s men back to the town, killing hundreds as they did so. The king fled, the Prince was taken hostage and his uncle was captured after hiding from the rebels in a windmill. The battle was over and the King was forced to agree to call a council of Lords, Churchmen and Merchants to advise him. This council or parliament (meaning Speaking Place) forms the basis of the Westminster system of government by Crown, Commons, Bishops and Lords we have today.

3000 years ago in the Bronze Age it was common to bury the dead under mounds. These burial mounds, also called Barrows or Tumuli, were created by digging a ditch around the grave and pilling the spoil into the middle. Newly built mounds would have been very white against the grass making a striking statement in the landscape. The dead were often buried with flints tools and pots, which may have contained food. Perhaps these objects were thought to be useful in the afterlife. The burial mounds here are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).