A view west from Devil’s Dyke ...
a landmark just north of Brighton
... the smooth, rounded slopes covered with springy turf, deep valleys without streams, the white gleam of a chalk pit, a beech copse on a summit – these are the unmistakeable signs of Downland, widespread in southern England.
Downs are chalk uplands, above the flat clay plains below. The gentle downs where man first farmed ... Neolithic man (3,000 – 1,850 BC) discovered flints for tool and weapon-making, as did Bronze Age man after him. They left their marks for us to see today - figures cut into the chalk, tracks, traces of field systems, earth works with burial mounds.
The iconic view of The Seven Sisters
cliffs and the coastguard cottages,
from Seaford Head across
the River Cuckmere
Devoid of their beech woods, used for fire, the Downs became grasslands supporting a wide range of flowering plants and a wealth of insects. Many species of butterflies and moths abound here, along with plentiful supplies of other insects.
Birdlife on the Downs is limited by the general lack of surface water. Woodland and hedge species include the song thrush, blackbird, chaffinch, linnet, whitethroat, pheasant, etc; while the grasslands support the wheatear, skylark and meadow pipit. The kestrel ranges over the Downs, preying on small animals and insects.
Beech and Yew are the dominant forms of tree, while Ash, Whitebeam and Juniper species also thrive.
Beachy Head, above Eastbourne
lies within the national park
The Downland is where I live on the Sussex coast ... Beachy Head rises above Eastbourne and is at the southerly tip of the new South Downs National Park.
That is Downland - that is what D is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories