As the hot weather and spring arrived, Arlington Bluebell Walk was opened on April 9, meaning visitors can now enjoy the bluebells in the enchanted ancient oak wood until May 13.
Hailsham Town Crier, Geoff Rowe, formally opened the gates and guests were treated to hedgerow cordial, as he read out a poem called ‘Bluebells’ by David Wood, then ceremonially cut a the ribbon.
The Arlington Bluebell Walk, which takes in three working farms, has been delighting countryside lovers and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for Sussex charities since it first opened in 1972. There are seven different walks to try in the 23-acre Bluebell wood, including the gravelled Blue Walk, which gives access to everyone including mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushchairs. Mobility scooters are also available to borrow free of charge.
Fifteen charities will take part in this year’s event, fundraising for their different causes by providing food and drink to walkers. The Arlington Bluebell Walk has raised more than £760,000, at today’s value, for over 60 local charities since the attraction opened to the public 43 years ago.
Two new charities are involved this year, including Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance who are sponsored by several local Lions Clubs as part of their project to raise £250,000 for a Night Flying project for the Air Ambulance; and the JPK Sussex Project, raising the capital costs for a building in Eastbourne for people with learning disabilities to live, when their parent carers are no longer able to care for them.
Jill Parker, Chair of the Eastbourne based JPK charity, said, “It’s fantastic and wonderful of Caroline and John McCutchan to open this up to so many charities. We are very grateful to them for giving us this opportunity and helping us to spread the word.”
John McCutchan, Farmer at Bates Green Farm near Hailsham, who created the walks and looks after the wood,has a lifetime’s experience of observing and spotting the bluebells.
He said, “The appearance of the bluebells relies on the ground temperature in January and February. Once the white wood anemones arrive, we know that the bluebells are on their way.”
Visitors can also learn more about dairy farming and get up close to farm animals with pens of pigs, angora goats, sheep and baby chicks. At neighbouring Parkwood Farm, the milking of the large herd can be seen from a special viewing gallery every afternoon between 3pm and 5pm.
The Bluebell Farm Shop will be open every day the Bluebell Walk is open and is the main outlet for the beef, lamb and chicken reared by John McCutchan’s son in law Michael Vine at Bates Green Farm.
The Farm Shop is a foodies’paradise, stocked with a tastebud-tantalising selection of ingredients for a spectacular dish prepared with the minimum of food miles. Farmer’s wife Philippa Vine is a professional cook and food writer and has a passion for locally sourced quality ingredients. Quality essentials such as olive and flavoured oils, vinegars, spices, herbs, coffee, rice, pasta, pulses, flour and local free-range eggs are also available.
It is currently expanding to create a demonstration kitchen, which will allow customers to learn how to whip up some delicious meal ideas from the local ingredients.
Thursday 9th April –Wednesday 13th May 2015
Bates Green Farm, Tye Hill Road, Arlington, Polegate, East Sussex, BN26 6SH
(Signs off A22 and A27)
Open 10am daily Close: 5pm daily
Adults £5.00. children £2.00 or family of up to 6 is £12.00. Seniors £4.50
Dogs welcome on leads