MANY thanks for Adam Trimingham’s excellent article about road development along the South Coast, and the South Downs National Park’s brave decision to apply for judicial review of the Arundel Bypass Preferred Route.

There’s just one thing in the article I’d like to correct. He twice says that Binsted Woods are “small”.

At 250 acres/100 hectares, they are very large, made up of 20 or more individual woods, each with its own character.

Most parts are sterling ancient woodland, with carpets of bluebells, anemones, celandines, violets, primroses, early purple orchids and stitchwort in the spring.

Others (a smaller part) have a mapped history as a pasture, furzefield or dwelling in the last 400 years, so do not count as ancient woodland (defined as wooded since 1600).

But these parts too are acquiring the ancient woodland species from their neighbouring woodlands and are valuable in making up part of the huge, mysterious woods that are such a joy to walk in and find out about.

At the time of the Domesday Book Binsted had enough woodland to feed 60 pigs, probably in much the same places as now.

So Binsted Woods as a whole are very ancient, despite some parts being not defined as ancient woodland.

Some parts of Binsted Woods contain a lot of history.

Hundred House Copse has an Iron Age earthwork and part of an Anglo-Saxon Moot Mound; Brickkiln Piece and Copse have 18th century brick kilns; Barns Copse and Paine’s Wood have scarcely visible remains of the Roman Road from Chichester to Arundel, confirmed in 2017.

Running through the woods are wet woodland stream valleys bringing the run-off from the Downs to the River Arun.

And that’s even before adding Tortington Common, the fascinating area to the east, between Binsted Woods and Arundel, another 70 hectares.

The Common was largely coniferised in the 1970s but has regenerated and is now partly owned by small woodland owners who are managing it to improve the habitats.

Tortington Common too has carpets of bluebells and wet stream valleys.

The two woods together form an amazing refuge for rare wildlife.

Surveys in the last three years by Mid Arun Valley Environmental Survey show the area is very important for badgers, dormice, bats, butterflies, birds and many threatened species.

The 14th species of bat was recently recorded there, and there are only 17 in the whole UK.

This is on a par with nature reserves like Ebernoe Common.

Both woodland areas together, with the ancient countryside to the west and south, and the beautiful Arun valley to the east, form a much-prized “green lung” for villages and towns along the coast, and a great access to the South Downs National Park.

The Park’s boundary stops at the edge of the woods (though including ten fields at Binsted), but the whole area, down to the railway, would make a good addition to the park in Michael Gove’s new National Park Review.

Emma Tristram
Stable Cottage
Binsted Arundel