Exmoor ponies coming to Battle field for wildflower project

Lake Field in Battle could soon be full of wildflowers and Exmoor ponies. Photo by National Trust SUS-161108-121219001
Lake Field in Battle could soon be full of wildflowers and Exmoor ponies. Photo by National Trust SUS-161108-121219001

A beauty spot in Battle is set for a group of Exmoor ponies as the National Trust seeks to turn the field into a wildflower meadow.

The trust hopes Lake Field will soon be covered in beautiful bluebells and daisies to benefit wildlife and encourage more people to use the field off Marley Lane.

The first stage will be to fence an area to allow ponies from the Sussex Pony Grazing and Conservation Trust to graze this autumn to keep the grass low, as well as a hay cut every summer.

This should give the wildflowers a chance to come through next spring and area ranger Andrew Dyer is looking forward to seeing the results.

“The grass dominates the field so the flowers can’t compete, but if you get a hay cut and introduce some grazers like the ponies, it gives the flowers the greatest opportunity to flourish,” he said.

“We’ve noticed a little difference this year and every year is different but it’s a little bit up to mother nature whether we succeed.

“But in the long term, there are ways we can help like using green hay to encourage seeds to grow.”

As part of the trust’s strategy to restore a healthy, beautiful and natural environment, Lake Field will be managed to benefit wildlife and to encourage people to enjoy this gateway to the High Weald.

Mr Dyer said the inspiration came from the work done at Kingsmead, which used turf from the 2012 London Olympics to encourage wildflowers, and believed the project would address the countrywide decline of wildflowers.

“Wildflowers are in decline and Lake Field is a gateway to the High Weald so making it full of wild flowers would be a great introduction to that,” he said.

“Also wild flowers would encourage more pollinators like bees and butterflies, which would be good for the area.”

The ponies should arrive next month once the field has been made safe for them.

Mr Dyer warned the process could be quite a long one but said the trust is very patient as it could take years, depending on what seeds are in the field.

The project is supported by a generous contribution from Sussex Lund, a grants programme launched by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, in collaboration with Sussex Community Foundation, to benefit the ecology, natural beauty and landscapes in the High Weald.

Access to the site will remain at all times but visitors are encouraged to keep dogs on leads within the fenced area and not to approach the livestock.

For more information about the scheme and other projects in East Sussex, contact the ranger team based in Winchelsea by calling 01797 229542.

Alternatively, visit the trust’s website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

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