A LONG, thin strip of land squished between train tracks and gardens might not seem a haven for wildlife.

But The Deneway in Brighton is an oasis for foxes, owls and rare white-letter hairstreak butterflies.

Even the odd badger has been spotted there since the Sussex Wildlife Trust took over the site in the Nineties.

Its secret? The Deneway is closed to the public.

“This place is deceptively long,” Huw Morgan, project manager at the trust, said. “It’s a never-ending fight against brambles. We’re planting new trees and wildflowers.

“We get our trees from a nursery in Stanmer Park called ‘Special Branch’.

“Because of people throwing out garden waste we even get some different flowers – bluebells are starting to grow.”

Volunteers have worked for decades to convert the overgrown shrubs into a sanctuary for nature.

Now The Deneway, which is in the Withdean area, serves as a haven for schoolchildren to reconnect with the natural world.

“Sometimes as a child it’s just nice to be able to sit somewhere like here, not talking to anyone or using a phone,” Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Alexis Rogers said.

“We’ve got sticks for them to make dens, they can just get out and about.

“We’ve used an old parachute to create a makeshift tent cover.”

Aside from flora and fauna, the reserve even has its own outhouse, complete with compostable toilet.

“The company that made it is called Thunderbox, which is a great name,” Alexis said.

“It separates the solids and liquids, but once it’s filled up you take it out and put it underground so there’s no impact on the site.

The Deneway might be a retreat for animals and people alike, but it is not without its beasts.

“We call the neighbourhood cats that come by ‘the beast of Deneway’ because they’re so big here,” Huw said.

“Sooner or later one of the cameras is going to go off and capture it.”