Combe Valley Overview

Combe Valley lies between Bexhill and Hastings & St Leonards in East Sussex. It is bounded by Sidley in the west, Crowhurst in the north and Filsham in the east. It is the winter-flooded valley of the river Combe Haven which flows out to sea at the west end of Bulverhythe Road through tide-controlled lock gates.

The Valley has many local footpaths and also contains part of the national footpath known as the 1066 Way. It also has part of the Sussex Coast shoreline with beach, rocks and sandy areas.

The Valley has a very wide range of wildlife, some locally unique – for example, the ruby-tailed jewel wasp. Birds often seen are Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Hobby, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Heron, Cormorants, Ducks – especially Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Pochard, Little Egret, Reed & Sedge Warblers and Buntings, Long-tailed tits, Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Stonechats, Jays, Bulfinches, Kingfisher, Cuckoos, Swallows, Lapwings, Gulls, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Owls, Swans, Pheasants, Woodpeckers and Goldfinches. We have recently had visits by Scaup and a White Stork.

Mammals are represented by bats, foxes, rabbits, grey squirrels, voles, mice, rats, farm horses, donkeys, cattle including beef bulls and cows, sheep, occasional deer and mink. Amphibian common and marsh frogs can be seen and the Common Lizard, grass snake and slow worm are the reptiles most often seen.

Butterflies are most often represented by Comma, Clouded Yellow, Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Brown Argus, Common and Small Blue, Green Hairstreak, Orange Tip and Small White – and there are several types of moth including the Cinnabar.

There are a very wide variety of insects and spiders, including Emperor and Hairy dragonflies, Beautiful and Banded demoiselles, Large and Small Red-Eyed damselflies, the Emerald damselfly, Ruddy Darters and Broad Bodied and Four Spotted Chasers, Migrant and Brown Hawkers, Roesel’s Cricket, Meadow grasshoppers, a wide range of beetles, bees – including the Pantaloon Bee, wasps – including the German Wasp and many types of hoverfly, Long-jawed and Orb Web spiders.

The Valley is very rich in special habitats, trees and vegetation, having had 100,000 new trees planted during the formation of the Bexhill to Hastings Bypass. There are many oaks and willows, extensive reed beds including Filsham Reed Beds site of special scientific interest (SSSI) – the largest area of Reeds in Sussex, old woodlands, bluebells woods and glades, extensive grasslands with orchids and drifts of ox-eye daisies, marsh areas, fen landscape consisting of 30% of all the fen in Sussex, carr, drainage ditches, farmland, farm grazing areas, lakes, pools and winter-flooded areas covering sometimes the whole of the central valley in one vast lake which attracts overwintering birds such as black-tailed godwits and other wading birds, Canada and Greylag geese.

The Valley has a Discovery Centre and the Blue Cafe situated in Freshfields Road. There are regular access points to the Valley footpaths and a Greenway running from Upper Wilting Farm all the way to Sidley, with horse riding tracks and cycleways. There is a car parking area at the Bulverhythe entrance.

Of particular historic interest are the Nazi V! rocket bomb crater at Pebsham Lake and many other bomb craters across farmland. The Combe Haven river is formed from tributaries, two of which are the Watermill and Powedermill Streams.

The area is owned by many farmers and landowners, local councils and Trinity College Cambridge. Sometimes cattle with young calves are seen grazing and care must be taken. Sheep also graze here and dogs should always be kept on a lead when livestock are free to roam. The Countryside Code should always be followed. Fly tipping should be reported to the local authority. Vandalism should be reported to the Sussex Police Heritage officer.

The area is one of great natural beauty and peace. Friends of Combe Valley and Combe Valley Nature Facebook pages describe local preservation activities.

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