22 Oct 2020

Working Party 24/10/2020

We'll be heading out into the wood for some socially-distanced conservation work again this Saturday 24th October. The forecast is changeable but, if you can spare an hour or two, whether you're a regular or a 'first-timer', it will be a pleasure to see you.

Social distancing will obviously be the norm (we certainly have the space!), so if you own tools, please bring them (your own pair of gloves and decent, sturdy footwear are essential) it would be preferable; if you don't have your own tools we can loan loppers, rakes, saws etc.

The plan, as usual, is to meet at the pond at around 11:00 - look out for the smoke.

See you there!

7 Oct 2020

Winter 20/21 Work Parties

October approaches and the cherry laurel and rhododendron ponticum are (rightly) quaking in their roots!

We’ll be ringing the changes with our work sessions this season with a move to fortnightly Saturday fixtures – this to give those otherwise occupied on Sundays the chance to participate in the clearance work.

If you can spare an hour or two, our first session will be on Saturday 10th October and we’d be as delighted as we always are to see you.

Covid-19 is obviously an issue, but one that we should be able to work with if we maintain social distancing (and avoid any undue kissing and cuddling). If you can bring your own tools (gloves and decent boots essential) it would be preferable; if you've none we can loan loppers, rakes, saws etc.

The plan, as usual, is to meet at the pond at around 11:00 - look out for the smoke.

Post Script: We had a successful trial earlier in the year making our own Darch’s Charcoal (see below). We have a stack of dried timber from previous sessions and will be firing up the retort (cooker) early on to make another batch while we get on with the general clearance work.

25 Apr 2020

Spring Flowers

It's Spring! After hibernating through a very long, and unbelievably wet and windy winter (looking at you, climate change...) life has burst back into Darch's Wood.

Birds are singing vigorously to demarcate their breeding territories, insects are emerging and mating, and the woodland flowers are daily becoming an ever greater sight to behold. Beginning with violets and wood anemones, the forest floor is soon awash with lesser celandine, glorious bluebells, the unusual lords-and-ladies (or cuckoo pint!) and greater stitchwort, to name but a few. All are timed to bloom before the canopy closes, which then prevents as much light from reaching the woodland floor.

Our eyes are currently trained on the areas cleared of the ever present (and infernal!) invasive, non-native cherry laurel and rhododendron this winter to see if the restored penetration of light to the forest floor in these areas causes any dormant seeds to germinate. On your walks through the woods, have a look out to see what you can find, and please comment below to let us know your sightings!

Please remember to continue to employ social distancing in the woods, and to walk round in a clockwise direction.

27 Mar 2020

What To Look For In Spring

Please remain greater than 2 metres away from everyone else whilst revelling!

24 Feb 2020

Working Party Report: Saturday 22nd February 2020

By Committee Member Josephine Eaton-Brown

The bivouac and firepit. No idea where it came from; any takers?
Highlights from this working party session included finding a secret camp beneath the invasive laurel jungle, seeing a sparrowhawk and a goldcrest as we went about our work and enjoying a rare dry day outdoors in February, with some even rarer sunny spells!!

On arriving, committee member Mike had already got a good bonfire going despite the wet ground and was making good progress against the matted twists and tangles of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum and Cherry laurel. Myself and my husband James joined the group to make five, including fellow committee member Jenny and her dog Poppy, who was busy collecting sticks and wondering what on earth we were all up to!

We were joined later in the day by another local resident, Lucy, and between us we cleared another good section of laurel and rhododendron that has completely taken over parts of the woodland. By clearing it, we will increase the space and light for native woodland species to thrive once more and regenerate naturally which in turn will increase biodiversity, not only in the wood but in the surrounding countryside too!
We were treated to a close view of a sparrowhawk that flew out right in front of Mike and James. We also encountered a beautiful little goldrest, heard first by James and spotted shortly after hopping about in the branches above our heads as if to inspect our work.

Signs of spring; the bluebells are on their way!
Between us we felled, lopped, sawed and burned, not only a great deal of rhody but a lot of calories too! It's a good workout, and a hugely rewarding experience. Personally, I find it's a great way to switch off from the worries of the week and simply focus on the here and now task in hand. There's time to chat and catch up with neighbours or plod away with your tasks, quietly daydreaming about how the wood will look when all the hard work is complete. It's satisfying to know that the work we do now will help protect and preserve this woodland for the community long into the future.

There's not much better than the unique afterglow of a day spent working in the outdoors and giving back to nature and the community. We have just a few more sessions left before we have to stop as we come into bird nesting season and it would be great to see some good volunteer turnout. We welcome newcomers whether you have half an hour or a whole day to give. We usually have some spare tools, or you can bring your own loppers, and there's always a job for everyone, no matter age or ability.

The next working parties are on 01/03/2020 and 15/03/2020. We meet by the pond from 11am. If you have any questions about the working parties please do get in touch.

3 Nov 2019

Dedication: John Plant, Chairman 2013-2019

A small group, hooded and hatted, stood in the rain by the lake in Darch’s Wood early this November. It had gathered to plant a tree in commemoration of John Plant, former chair of the Cross-in-Hand Amenities Society, guardians of the wood, who died in April this year. Darch’s Wood had been central to John’s life for six years, and the transformation of this 40 acre ancient woodland, its paths, trees and waterways, took place under his guidance. 

The group were the committee of the society who had worked with John, and included his wife Lin. Together they had selected the tall West Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) with its distinctive, striking white bark, that now stands on the west bank of the lake, next to the table and benches made of Darch’s Wood's own oak, and at the very heart of the wood. The planting was executed with professional thoroughness by Bruno and John from Agrifactors of Punnetts Town.

An oak post with a brass plaque was also mounted next to the tree baring the following inscription:

John Plant,
Chair of Cross in Hand Amenities Society 2013-2019

Look around you.
John loved and cared for this ancient woodland.
It is his memorial.

3 Oct 2019

Winter 2019/20 Volunteer Working Groups

Now we are officially outside of the bird nesting season, we are recommencing our weekend volunteer days on the First and Third Sundays of every month throughout the Autumn and Winter. 

Tasks include helping out with rhododendron and cherry laurel clearance, fixing/building leaky dams, helping to tend the bonfire and even just catching up with other members! It's a very rewarding and enjoyable way to spend an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon and we always go home satisfied that we have both made a real difference, and burnt a few calories in the process! You don't have to work any harder than you wish, and you came come and go as you please, but any time you are able offer us in carrying out this vital work can only be completed with the help of our willing volunteers. We are grateful even for an hour of your time!

We meet near the pond around 11am and usually go on until dusk, or until we run out of steam. Do bring your own tools if you have them, we usually have a few spares but the more the merrier!

So sharpen up those loppers and tree saws, dust off your rake and polish your wellies and come and help restore our woodland to its natural beauty. We look forward to seeing you in the woods!

Next meet: Sunday 2nd February 2020

Why do we clear rhododendron and cherry laurel?
These are non-native species that don't belong in a healthy woodland. Often, these are garden escapees that have been left to run wild for many years. They quickly block out light to the woodland floor and outcompete all other plant species, and if left alone Darch's Wood would eventually become a monoculture of rhododendron with dead and dying trees poking out the top! Clearing these non-native invasive species safeguards the biodiversity and health of the woodland for decades to come and, once cleared, the next generation of new native trees will take root and the bluebells, lesser celandines and wood anemones will once again put on their show in the spring. 

27 Sep 2019

Darch's Wood Archaeological Survey

Back in January 2019, your Cross-in-Hand Amenities Society teamed up with Dr Vivienne Blandford to conduct an archaeological survey of the woods. Quite aside from the report itself (which we present to you below), such an undertaking helps us in planning how to manage the woods, including the creation of a formal management plan, which can then use to apply for longer-term funding for woodland support from various organisations.

Prior to this survey, only one archaeological site had been identified in the woodlands; the Roman (?) iron bloomery. This field survey identified a total of 26 features, not all of them strictly archaeological ones but were important to the understanding of this historic wooded garden landscape. Apart from the known Roman bloomery site in the woods, the earliest archaeological evidence is the eastern boundary bank and ditch which dates back to when the cultivated land was cut out of the wider Wealden woodland; when that was we can only speculate at present.

What was striking about this woodland survey was the lack of usual woodland management archaeological features, from charcoal platforms and saw-pits to mine pits and internal boundary banks. With its steep sides and deeply incised ghylls, this would have always been an extremely difficult wood to work for timber and charcoal, even before it was ready for extraction!

However, what the wood lacked in the usual woodland archaeology, it gained in its obvious later use
as a Victorian and Edwardian ‘pleasure ground’ in this part of the southern extremity of the High Weald. This development of the garden and wider landscape at Heatherden started in late Victorian times and continued into the early Edwardian period. The 1987 storm obviously did considerable
damage to the planted aspect of this woodland, but some specimen trees still survive.

For anyone, including local people, with even the most basic interest of the history of Darch's Wood and the community of houses which surround it, this is an illuminating and fascinating read.

9 Sep 2019

Notice of Extraordinary General Meeting, 2nd October


Lucas Memorial Hall, Waldron, TN21 0QT 

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 at 8.00pm 

You are invited to attend this extraordinary general meeting of the Society, called because it was impossible to complete business at the last AGM held on April 24th, 2019 due to the sudden death of the chair, John Plant.

This is a brief, but important meeting of the membership to elect a new chair and committee and to decide how to commemorate John’s life and his significance for the Society. We need 15 paid-up household representatives to be quorate.

Please make every effort to attend. 

  1. Election of chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary (trustees of the Society);
  2. Election of committee members;
  3. Deciding on a suitable memorial to John Plant, chair 2013 to 2019. The provisional committee has been in discussion with John’s family and will have proposals to put before the meeting;
  4. Update of work scheduled for Darch’s Wood and autumn work parties.
 Refreshments will be provided.

Nominations for officers and the committee Members are invited to put forward their names or those of any paid up member who would like to serve either as an officer/trustee or as an additional member of the committee. Please make your nominations known to the membership secretary, Mike Baker by email or in advance of the meeting. 

Please reply to this notice confirming your attendance or send apologies plus any names to serve on the committee to: Mike Baker at: 

telephone 01435 866253.

* This notice is issued in accordance with clause 10 of the Constitution whereby an extraordinary general meeting can be convened at any time by a resolution of the Committee, and that members of the Society shall be given a minimum of 21 days notice.

6 Sep 2019

Tribute to our Chairman John Plant

Those of you that follow us on Facebook may already be aware of the sad and sudden passing of John Plant, our chairman, back in April of this year. This was a shock to us all, just a day before our AGM and we all miss him greatly.

John worked tirelessly for the local community. He fought to protect and preserve Darch’s Wood, giving what sometimes seemed like limitless time and energy towards fighting planning applications which would have had an adverse effect on the woods, or getting stuck in with path building, archaeological surveys and rhododendron clearance. His passion for and dedication to the woodland is evident when you walk through the woods today and look around you. The progress in the woods over the last few years has been remarkable, slowly but surely being restored to provide a sanctuary for nature and people alike. The result is a testament to John’s hard work and commitment.

Before he died, John received an official invitation to the Queen’s Garden Party in recognition of his services to the community. He passed away before the event but we can all agree that this was a well deserved award, one that he was proud to receive. His family attended on his behalf and enjoyed a memorable day at Buckingham Palace.

We will all very much miss working alongside John, both personally and professionally. His warm nature, his sense of humour, extensive local knowledge and dedication to the society over his six years as chair will be a tough act to follow. However, we are determined to continue the excellent work that he started.

We plan to plant some native trees in the woods, alongside an oak post with a commemorative plaque as a memorial to John.

19 Jan 2019

Volunteer Working Groups

As the notices that we put up at our entrance-ways state, these last two Saturdays (12th and 19th January 2019) we held volunteer working groups in the woods. The objective was to clear as much of the invasive non-native Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and Rhododendron (R. ponticum) outbreaks that had completely taken over the incline immediately to the west of the pond, on the Back Lane side of the woods.

The Society was immensely pleased to see many local people and dogs (and not-so-local people/dogs!) turn up and contribute their time and sweat felling, burning, pruning and sawing, doing their best to help us return the woods to their former glory. We are truly grateful to each and every person (and dog!) who turned up and worked so hard, and a great deal of fun was had by all.

Special thanks must go out to Tom who today came with a small chainsaw and, himself, cleared as much of to the infestation as the whole working party managed the week before! A remarkable feat, and the difference is self-evident. Further thanks to Nigel who, with his electric reciprocating saw, was only stopped when his battery ran flat...

More Volunteer Working Groups are planned to go forwards (weather permitting), as advertised on our Facebook page. If you would also like to join us in keeping fit, helping give nature a chance to thrive, meeting new people and simply have a ball in these beautiful woods, why not grab your bow saw and loppers and join our group? You'd be warmly welcomed.

21 Dec 2018


Our last item for now about the history of Darch’s Wood, found that in April 1981 the Society was struggling to finance the maintenance of the wood, and was failing to persuade users of the wood to become members of the Society to make a token contribution to its upkeep.  Church Cottage was part of Mrs Darch’s bequest and soon became a prime target for disposal and acrimonious exchanges.

A former committee member expressed his lack of enthusiasm for selling Church Cottage in a letter to the Woodland Sub-Committee Chairman.  Here are some of the extracts from the exchange of letters.

“I am not at all enthusiastic about even contemplating selling the Church cottage.  Can I have your assurance that no serious steps have yet been taken towards the disposal of Church Cottage.  The donor is 100% against selling it and I think it would be extremely discourteous to do it in her lifetime.  It always constituted a major part of the gift and should not be disposed of lightly.  You have always said how concerned you were over cutting even one tree without Margaret’s permission and here you are obviously in favour of a major action which goes wholly against her wishes.  The County (The Council had visited the wood and written a report) have said that the woods are a viable proposition and therefore you cannot sell the cottage as a short-term measure when the long-term view does not justify it.  In forestry you always have to take the long view.”

Extracts from the response from the Woodland Sub-Committee Chairman started with a rather undiplomatic fist paragraph which included this statement.

“My first inclination was to throw it (your letter) into the wastepaper basket.”

Then went on to say:-

“I am advised that when you initially put forward the idea that the Society take over a portion of Heatherden Woods doubts were expressed by more than one committee member regarding the Society’s financial ability to maintain the woodland.  It is obvious to me that these doubts were justified.

The present position is that the cottage has been ruled as unfit for human habitation by the Local Housing Authority and until various repairs and alterations demanded by the Local Authority are carried out there is no question of anyone being permitted to live there.  Either the Society finds the considerable sum of money necessary to carry out the Housing Authority requirements or it stays empty.

The other solution is one of disposal of the cottage in order to raise funds that can yield a regular investment income to fund the Society’s obligations to maintain the woodlands.  The whole question of possible disposal is one which needs the consent of the Charity Commissioners.

I refuse to accept any implied censure from you on the matter. If you wish to influence the affairs of the Society I suggest you attend an AGM and get yourself re-elected.”


Critics from Essex

Continuing our research into the history of Darch’s Wood, we move on to November 1989, and paraphrase extracts from a highly critical letter written by a lady from Essex commenting on the state of the woodland two years after the hurricane. 

We thought we would enjoy walking in the woodland – the notice says it is for the enjoyment of the Community.  What a sad place it is still after all this long time – not really enjoyable.  Our local Nature Reserve had the same kind of damage.  The weekend following the storm a large party of volunteers cleared the driveway leading to the car park.  Subsequently teams of volunteer workers, school groups, scout groups, Duke of Edinburgh awards youth, watch groups etc, two 80 year olds, and many in their 70’s worked hard to clear branches twigs etc.  My husband (now 80) and I spend 2 to 3 hours each week clearing footpaths.  Our warden organises all the helpers.

You need a warden to rally the community into action to clear all the debris.  The paths need to be levelled and drainage ditches repaired.  We have a very enthusiastic chairman backed by a committee who all do their share of organising.  I say again, form a good hard-working committee.

Come on Cross in Hand, get going.  It’s your woodland.  Make it an enjoyable place to visit.

And here are paraphrased extracts from the Chairman’s response.

You might have considered how wounding your words are to the members of the Society, who have spent tens of thousands of pounds and uncounted hours converting a wood that has been left to deteriorate for 50 years into a beautiful amenity, all destroyed in a single night. 

80% of trees were lost and it was impossible to gain entry.  It took months just to cut paths through the fallen timber to evaluate a clearance plan.   It has taken 2 professional contractors to effect the partial clearance to enable access to the wood.  The thought of untrained volunteers working in such conditions is quite ludicrous and irresponsible.

I hope the extent of the damage suffered will give you cause to reflect your criticism of our local people.


Conditions of Access

In our third look into the history of Darch’s Wood, we go back to May 1976, which was days after the Amenities Society took ownership of the wood. 

The bequest of the woods was that they be preserved as a local amenity and enjoyed by the residents of the locality, (specifically residents of Cross in Hand and Waldron).  The committee had to decide how to honour the bequest, and the initial proposals were as follows:

1.      The wording of notices should preserve the private nature of the woods and notices should not give the impression it is a public park. 

2.      Notices displayed at the entrances would read ‘These woods are private but may be enjoyed by local residents if they observe certain conditions.’

3.      The following should be prohibited:  Horse riding, mechanically propelled vehicles, fire lighting, cycling, camping, caravans, playing of musical equipment, radios, musical instruments, removal or breaking down of wood, trees or shrubs, and the dumping of litter.

4.      No trees, shrubs or plants to be felled, damaged, uprooted or transplanted. 

5.      Residents were urged to safeguard their valuable natural amenity and to report any contraventions of the prohibitions.

6.      Access to the wood was to be granted on the understanding that the owners took no responsibility for any damage, loss or personal injury sustained by any person however caused, and members of the public traverse the woods entirely at their own risk. 

7.      Members of the committee would be issued with identification cards to provide a form of authority to request the identity of persons contravening the prohibitions.

Items 6 and 7 are particularly amusing as even in the less litigious 1970’s, landowners had a legal duty of care to the public, and we shudder to think what might happen had a committee member displayed a card and demanded to know who someone was. 


1st Ringmer Scout Troup Task List

Continuing our research into the history of Darch’s Wood, we found that back in 1978 the 1st Ringmer Scout Troup carried out basic maintenance work in the wood under the supervision of Scout Leader Brian Howard.  
The following list of additional tasks were proposed by our former Chairman Harry Hatcher in 1979, although we haven’t been able to establish if these works ever took place. 
Task List
The youths should come with a large saw, small saw, spade and secateurs.
1 – Reinstate that small wooden bridge near my gate, the large cross beams to be recovered from a few feet north of the bridge site – vandals destroyed the bridge and apparently used the cross beams to try and make a dam and form a lake.
2 – Clear all three streams of fallen trees and all rubbish which prevents free flow of water.  See that the streams all go straight through the old brick bridges.
3 – Clear the paths close to these streams so they can be looked after in future.  This must be done constantly.
4 – Brick bridges reinstated after vandal damage.
5 – Clear the lake.  Soil can partly be used to re-form the island.

9 Nov 2018


We have started wading through boxes of documents dating back to 1970 as part of our archaeological study of Darch's Wood. Each week over the next few weeks we shall post one of the more interesting documents that we come across.
As a starter, the following is the text in a handwritten note that Mrs Darch sent to the Amenities Society Chairman in 1979,
The object of Darch’s Wood is to preserve 43 acres of natural English woodland for the study and enjoyment of the people in the district. Therefore no trees must be cut down. Plenty will fall down if and when they must. The exception being the acres of chestnut which should be cropped every 15 years or so, and sold for money for upkeep. The wood looks beautiful now (1979) – just as it did in 1935 when we bought it, and no trees were ever chopped down. If any spot becomes unpleasantly bare, a new tree can be discretely planted (and looked after) but this should not be necessary as undergrowth may produce new trees.
The committee (and others) should never walk in the woods without tools of the trade, in hand or belted on. The most important are a hoe to do gutters and clear streams and a hand clipper. After that a saw, slasher etc, to take care of things fallen across paths.
The bridges should be watched at all times to see that the water flows through correctly. Bricks should be replaced at once if vandals have prised any out.
As for money for brick work etc, you should perhaps get some donations in addition to rent from the Church House, and if this is not enough, I would consider a charge of £4 or £5 a year from people who use the wood. That is done by another woodland trust not far away.
The ex-pond should be cleared on the east side of the stream ready to go ahead when and if the time comes for re-instatement.

7 Nov 2018

Archaeological Study of Darch's Wood

We have taken the first tentative steps to carry out an archaeological study of Darch's Wood which will in part include references to Heatherden and St Bartholomew's Church.
If anyone has any historic information about the wood, be it documents, photographs or just memories, we would be keen to hear from you.

4 Jul 2018

Wealden Local Plan

The Wealden Local Plan for housing development has been published and is available for public consultation.
This is YOUR BEST opportunity to comment on road safety, lack of infrastructure and amenities, planning, and all the other issues that affect the community of Cross-in-Hand.

You may view the plan and the agenda for the sub-committee meeting (being held on 5th July 2018) via the following link:

28 Feb 2018

Rhododendron Clearance - next steps

We have now completed our latest phase of rhododendron clearance in Darch's Wood. Our contractors, Agrifactors Ltd., cleared over 3 acres over a two week period, and the improvement is as noticeable as it is dramatic, especially around the pond!

The next stage is to clear the ground of all the sticks and debris left behind, and we have already cleared much of the area around the pond with help from a number of volunteers.  There is much more to be done, and we are going to have regular sessions on the third Sunday of every month between 11am and 4pm, where we hope some of our regular users if the wood will help out.  The more that help, the quicker we can clear the debris and set about grassing the cleared areas and seeding wildflowers.

As part of the clearance effort, we aim to create a new path running alongside the stream from the other new path we constructed last year down to the pond using the wood chippings from the rhododendron. So the more people that help, the quicker you get your new path!

The soil in the areas cleared of rhododendron is too acidic to seed at the moment, so we are going to create a small test area where we will spread granulated lime on the ground and then seed it with grass. The results will hopefully speak for themselves.

15 Jan 2018

Sussex Express Isenhurst Junction Article

The Sussex Express had two articles on pages 3 and 36 of their 12th January 2017 publication concerning the accident rate at and near the Isenhurst junction in Cross in Hand.

With support from our Parish Council, Wealden Councillor Jonica Fox, and County Councillor Chris Dowling, the Amenities Society has been trying persuade East Sussex Highways to do something about the accidents and congestion along this stretch of road.

We would hope that the press coverage will jolt East Sussex Highways into doing something about this stretch of road before someone loses their life, but we aren't holding our breath.

16 Dec 2017

Supporting Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, a local charity based near Ringmer, has been nominated for The National Charity Film Awards.  There is a chance that they could win an award, which would be fantastic exposure for them, helping to raise awareness and ultimately save more animals' lives.

We have been in touch with them to try to get more ducks for the pond in Darch's Wood, so it seems right to ask our members and visitors to the wood to support a fellow local charity by voting for them. 

The voting process takes less than 2 minutes and would make all the difference to Raystede and the animals who live there.

Simply click the link below, register then search for Raystede and vote for their #Heartbreak2Happiness film.

Click here to vote for Raystede now

Planning Application

We have completed the initial phase of the planning application process on behalf of the Parochial Church Council to create an overflow car park for St Bart's Church on the grassy area behind the vehicle gate into Darch's Wood.
Details of the planning application can be found on the Wealden District Council Planning Portal under reference WD/2017/1859/F.
We have been very careful to make sure that the car park area will not have any impact to existing trees and hedges, and trust that our members support the proposal.

11 Dec 2017

Thank You to the Heathfield Co-op Store

We were delighted to hear that our share of the Co-op’s Local Community Fund for the six months ending in November was £6,600.66, which was far more than we were expecting.

Many of you calling in at the Co-op store in Heathfield on 25th November may have seen our Treasurer, Janet Reader receive a cheque from the Manager for the funds raised.  She also set up a small display in the store to publicise our work in the wood.

We would like to thank the Co-op management, staff and customers of the Heathfield store for their support, and will be allocating some of the money raised to cover the costs incurred in constructing the new path.  We shall also dedicate the new path to the Co-op.

The remaining funds will be used to provide additional seats and benches at strategic locations within the wood. 

December Newsletter

Our December 2017 Newsletter is now available on our website. 
Members will receive their own copy of the Newsletter by email or in the post.

18 Oct 2017

Project New Footpath on Schedule

Two days into our work schedule, and we already have a usable footpath that crosses the recently discovered brick bridge.

We will be back on Friday to do some more work, but in the meantime there is no reason why you can't walk along the new path to look at what we have done so far.

Dangerous Tree Felled

Note the hole!
We would like to thank the gentleman who called us about a tree in Darch's Wood that looked as though it was in a potentially dangerous state of health.

It had such a large hole in the trunk that you could see right through it and, being alongside the public footpath in the wood, we felt that it was a priority issue and took action straight away.

Whilst it was being felled the tree split in two and we found its core to be totally rotten, so it could have fallen at any time. 

Thanks to Chris Davis and his team at Agrifactors Ltd. for their speedy response to our report of the potential danger.

11 Oct 2017

New Signs in the Wood

 We have put a few signposts made from trees in the wood that have fallen.

Our aim is to help new visitors to the wood  to find their way around. 

If people find them useful we will add some more.

There are currently five signposts - can you find them?

New Path in the Wood

Sussex Conservation Volunteers will be constructing a new footpath across the valley to cross the brick bridge that we discovered when we cleared the rhododendron.  We have put some signs out at the approximate locations where the path will join the existing paths.

The Volunteers will carry out the work between 11am and 4pm on 16, 18, 20 and 23 October.

If you are interested in working with the Conservation Volunteers and learning new skills, come along and talk to them on one of their work days, or see their website tcv.org.uk/community/join-community-network.

1 Oct 2017

High Weald AONB Unit Questionnaire

Darch's Wood is within the special landscape of the High Weald designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The High Weald AONB Unit has commissioned a survey to explore what aspects of the High Weald members of the public find particularly beautiful, and how they enjoy the area. 

It will help the AONB Unit develop a better policy to conserve and enhance the High Weald AONB, and the information will be used to inform the High Weald AONB Management Plan 2019-2024 which will be published in March 2019.

If you want your say, please click on this link to the High Weald AONB Survey.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes, and all completed forms will be entered into a draw to win two family tickets to the Spa Valley Railway.

18 Sep 2017

Wheelchair Access to the Wood

In what we believe was a first ever for the wood, one of the visiting Sussex Conservation Volunteers accessed the wood in a wheelchair without any difficulty.

Whilst at present we are unable to provide unimpeded access to the wood for wheelchair users, if you would like us to make special arrangements to enable someone in a wheelchair to visit parts of the wood, please contact our Chairman, and we will try our best to accommodate your wishes.

Sussex Conservation Volunteers

John, our Chairman met representatives from Hastings based Sussex Conservation Volunteers, a charitable organisation that helps organisations such as ours and in the process trains young people in rural skills. The volunteers were very impressed with our wood and the work we had done over the past four years and are keen to help us by building a new path in the wood incorporating the recently discovered brick bridge. Watch this space for updates.

To find out more about the Conservation Volunteers, contact them on 01424 444675

The Community Volunteering Charity
If you would like to be kept up to date with information about their work in South East England, please let them know by subscribing to their-newsletters here
Royal Society of Public Health - Health and Wellbeing Award winners
Registered in England as a limited company (1933576) and as a charity in
England (261009) and Scotland (SCO39302).

Registered Office: Sedum House, Mallard Way, Doncaster DN4 8DB

Volunteers Needed for Path Repairs!

Are you fed up getting your shoes muddy on the narrow path that runs parallel to Back Lane? Then why not help us sort it out. We are planning to lay some road planings on this path on Saturday 7th October between 2pm and 4pm.

Email cihamsoc@gmail.com or contact one of our Committee if you can help.

Path Repairs

Visitors to the wood will see that we have re-laid, the rutted parts of the path between the church and the pond, and started work on the muddy path running up the hill from the ornamental bridge to Back Lane.  Weather permitting we will finish the job week commencing 18th September 2017.
Thanks also to Toby Thompsett who ably assisted by his dad Steve and fellow committee members Janet, Mike and John to lay planings on the narrow path under the rhododendron near the bridge last weekend.

15 Aug 2017

Old Common - Parish Council Refusal

The Parish Council Planning and Highways Committee recommended refusal of the planning application at Old Common at a well attended meeting on Monday 14th August 2017.

Many arguments were put forward by residents objecting to the proposal, with the numerous road safety issues, the encroachment into the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its proximity to the ancient woodland being just some of the many reasons given.

Our Chairman, John Plant, spoke specifically about the adverse impact on Darch’s Wood.  The Amenities Society has not been approached by the developer even though the application makes numerous references to draining surface water from the site into the wood, and constructing a new gate to provide direct public access into the wood. 

We believe that the increased volume of water flowing into the woodland would cause additional erosion and would have a detrimental effect to the streams and the pond.  The proximity of two public accesses behind the church renders any need for additional accesses unnecessary. Together with the noise and light pollution, and the resulting vehicle emissions so close to the ancient woodland, the Society also recommended refusal.

9 Aug 2017

Sussex Lund

Plans are already in place to use the grant of £10,000 from Sussex Lund to finance further rhododendron and cherry laurel clearance in the wood.  The work, to be done by Chris Davis and his team at Agrifactors (Southern) Limited, is provisionally scheduled for this winter, commencing in November and running through to the end of February.

The Sussex Lund grants programme, launched by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, supports small-scale, practical projects that improve the ecology and landscape of the High Weald. 

For further information about Sussex Lund click on this link to sussexgiving.org.uk.

8 Aug 2017

Dogs & Ducks: Update

We would like to thank all those who exercise their dogs in the wood for the positive response to our requests to keep their dogs away from the ducks.   

We have lost one of the three female ducks that we introduced, but we suspect that she didn't stay close to the others, strayed too far from the pond and was probably taken by a fox. The remaining ducks do seem to be thriving.

Thank you to all those who have been helping feed the ducks. We will keep this up on a permanent basis, at least until next spring. If you would like to be involved in a regular feeding scheme please email us at cihamsoc@gmail.com. We will provide the duck food free of charge.

Planning Application at Old Common

A planning application for 42 dwellings on a 1.7 hectare site at Old Common on Little London Road has been submitted to Wealden District Council.  The application consists of 2 x 5 bedroom houses, 15 x 4 bedroom houses, 17 x 3 bedroom houses and 8 x 1 bedroom maisonettes.

The Amenities Society has been approached by concerned neighbours and will be looking to work with the individuals concerned to assist them in providing fair and balanced responses.

As the proposed site backs on to Darch's Wood, the Committee will be considering its own thoughts over the next couple of weeks before submitting a response on behalf of the Amenities Society.

The application can be found on the Wealden Planning website www.planning.wealden.gov.uk under reference WD/2016/3063/MAO, where you can submit your own response to the Wealden Planning Officer for or against the proposal.  The deadline for submissions is 1st September 2017. 

26 Jul 2017

Esso Service Station

The Esso Service Station is scheduled to be closed from late on Sunday 30th July for at least two weeks, and possibly longer. We understand that the shop is being converted into a Spar convenience store.

25 Jul 2017

Grant from Sussex Lund

We are delighted to announce that the Amenities Society has been awarded a £10,000 grant from Sussex Lund to contribute towards further rhododendron clearance in Darch's Wood. 
The rhododendron found in the wood is particularly invasive and is slowly killing the trees and adversely affecting other flora and fauna.

We plan to carry out the work in two phases, the first phase in November and the second phase in  February, which will be undertaken by our contractor, Agrifactors (Southern) Limited.

19 Jul 2017

Roadworks update for next week

Expect increased traffic on Back Lane, New Pond Hill and Firgrove Road when Little London Road is closed for drainage works from 24th July for up to 2 weeks.

There will be some restrictions on parking on part of Heathfield High Street to try and keep traffic flowing whilst the diversion is in place, but just to complicate matters, the main diversion route via Hailsham Road will have roadworks between the traffic lights and Ghyll Road for one day on 25th July.

7 Jul 2017

Little London Road planned closure 24th July

East Sussex Highways has given notice that Little London Road will be closed between the junction of Pook Reed Lane and New Pond Hill to enable drainage improvement works to take place.

The closure notice is from 7am on Monday 24th July until 5pm on Friday 4th August, although the work is expected to be completed within 5 days starting 24th July.

The diversion route will most likely be via Maynards Green and Heathfield High Street, so expect gridlock in the town.

Residents of Back Lane and Firgrove Road should also brace themselves for increased, and speeding, through traffic avoiding the diversion route.

Back Lane closed from 10th July

Residents in Back Lane have received a letter from South East Water stating that the lane will be closed at the Springfield Nursery site entrance from 10th July for 5 to 10 days to carry out new water connection works.

The advance notice posted in the lane some weeks ago refers to road closure for BT work, so there may be more closures still to come.

14 Jun 2017

Advance Notice of Road Closure

East Sussex Highways have authorised the temporary closure of Back Lane at Springfield Nursery, between Coppice and The Laurels, to enable British Telecom to install new connections and duct works. Pedestrian access will be maintained.

The alternative route for through traffic diversion will be via New Pond Hill and the A267.

The work is scheduled to start on 3rd July and last up to two weeks.

12 Jun 2017

Dogs and Ducks

After many months of being asked to introduce more ducks to the pond, visitors to the wood have expressed their delight that we have finally done so. However, we need everyone's cooperation if they are to survive.

Despite the notices around the pond asking owners to ensure their dogs keep away from the ducks, we have already received a video of an incident this morning of a dog chasing after a duck in the water. Fortunately, in this instance the duck escaped... just!

If we are to enjoy having ducks on the pond, and dogs want to enjoy a swim, owners need to act more responsibly and keep their dogs under control. The incident in question has been reported to the Dog Warden.

9 Jun 2017

'Here Come the Girls!’

The Cross-In-Hand Amenities Society is proud to announce that it has purchased three female ducks to join Desmond in the pond! He seems delighted to have some company, and they splashed about in the water before settling down on the island. We've christened them 'Deirdre', 'Doris', and 'Demelza'!

It will take a few days for the newcomers to get accustomed to their new life, so we ask dog owners to ensure that they keep their pets out of the water if the ducks are nearby. As our new ducks have not been used to foraging for themselves we will be setting up a rota of volunteers to feed them food specially formulated for ducks for a couple of weeks.

Please DO NOT feed them bread! This is actually bad for the birds and the associated malnutrition can lead to beak deformities, 'angel wing', and problems with their down. If you would like to feed them, please give them brown rice, sunflower seeds, oats, sweetcorn, mealworms or halved grapes, as these are of far greater nutritional value to birds.

If you can are able to help with the feeding please email us on cihamsoc@gmail.com. Thanks to Kim Summerfield who sourced and collected the ducks, and helped introduce them to the pond.

22 May 2017

Traffic Problems At Dads Hill

We are finding that the number and severity of problems on Dads Hill are increasing, including lorries blocking the lane. If residents have any problem with the site they should do the following: 
  • Take a photograph of any vehicles blocking the lane or driveways (including their registration plate) and note the date and time/duration of problem
  • Contact the Enforcement Officer at Wealden (planning@wealden.gov.uk) or telephone 01892 602460.
  • Copy (CC) any emails to Jonica Fox (cllr.jonica.fox@wealden.gov.uk) who promises to put pressure on Wealden to enforce the planning conditions
The Wealden Planning Officers have asked that the site manager introduce himself to Dad's Hill residents and provides his phone number so that he can be called if there is a blocking vehicle or other problem.

This has already been done by at least one resident, however we ask that all local residents contribute reports; the more details Wealden receive, the more can be done about it!

Welcome to Dad's Hill!

15 May 2017

Partnership with The Co-Op

The Cross-In-Hand Amenities Society has been chosen as one of the Heathfield Co-op supermarket's charity for the second quarter of 2017. If you hold a Co-op Membership Card, please let them know you'd like the charitable contributions you accrue as you shop with them to come to us, and tell your friends to nominate us too.

You can do that online by logging in to the Co-op's membership portal clicking here, via email at membershipcontactus@coop.co.uk, or by phone on 0800 0686 727. Every single penny we receive really does make a difference! If you're not already a member, you may sign up for a card in-store.

Last quarter each of the three nominated charities received over £6,000. Needless to say, that sort of funding would make a huge difference to us. Thank you in advance, and enjoy shopping!

14 May 2017

'Desmond's Saga'

During Spring 2017, an extremely generous donor (who wished to remain anonymous) enabled the society to undertake a program of works to renovate the pond at the heart of Darch's Wood'. Pull up a chair and reach for the popcorn, as it is therefore the honour of the Cross-In-Hand Amenities Society to present to you 'Desmond's Saga'!

13 May 2017

The Wood For Trees!

Post-planting frivolity!
The Society would like to thank James and Jo Eaton-Brown who kindly donated some trees to be planted in the wood as a legacy from the day of their wedding. 

As a result, the biodiversity of our wood has increased as we now have a Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis), a Bird Cherry (Prunus padus), a Small Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata) and a Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). All of these are native species would have been familiar to our distant ancestors as, at the end of the last ice-age, would have been common all over the South of England. 

Sadly, they are not as widespread as they once were. Since the neolithic era, many of our woodlands were cleared wholesale to make room for crops and livestock, managed for the coppicing of sweet chestnut and hazel to supply the plethora of cannon-producing iron foundries in the area, planted with species such as oak to satisfy demand for timber for shipbuilding, or more lately replaced with larch, Norwegian and Sitka spruce plantations used for pulp. 

The trees were selected purposely to enhance biodiversity in the wood, and thus also increase its resilience to extreme events such as the 1987 'hurricane'! They have been planted by James (assisted by John) in the cleared area near to the wigwam. May they have a long and happy life. The trees and James and Jo!