Railway Land Nature Reserve, Lewes

A wild place in the heart of Lewes

This Nature Reserve is managed in close partnership with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust.

Location

This urban wildlife haven can be found in the heart Lewes, just off the high street and behind the train station. Right next to the meandering River Ouse it makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the town.

Railway Lane, Lewes, BN7 2FG, Map Reference: TQ 419 100

Access

There is a network of footpaths across the reserve including a disabled access surfaced path and some woodland and grass paths. All footpaths are permissive. There are no public rights of way.

Parking: There is a public car park located nearby

Recreation: Walking, Cycling and Dog Walking are permitted

Walks: Sussex Ouse Valley Way, a 42 mile waymarked walk on permissive paths through the river valley.

Wildlife

Nestling on the flood plain of the River Ouse, this 25 acre nature reserve boasts 4 different water habitats that are recognised as being very important to wildlife. 

Wet woodland, important for mosses and lichens 

Reed bed, called the Heart of Reeds, which in summer is heaving with singing reed warblers.

Ponds, home to newts and fish.

Floodplain grassland, made up of a system of ditches which are jam-packed with aquatic invertebrates. All of these habitats are fed by Winterbourne stream which flows through the middle of the reserve and under giant tidal sluice gates into the River Ouse. This chalk stream is fed by water which has filtered through the surrounding Downland hills and only runs when it’s been raining, which is most the time. In winter the stream regularly overflows and fills these habitats with fresh water, keeping them in top condition.

Railway Land Live! operates several live webcam feeds from the land, as well as providing a video library, where you can view the wildlife in their natural habitats. .

Wildlife Designations: Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI)

History

Until 1989 the site was occupied by extensive railway sidings and the embankment of the former Lewes of Uckfield railway line.

In the woodland once stood a large Victorian town house; the Leighside Estate. This contained formal gardens and landscaped fishponds. These are interspersed with large railway Poplars and some exotic specimens, including a fantastic Holm Oak and Swamp Cyprus.

 

Railway land information board