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Farthing Downs & New Hill

Ditches Lane
Coulsdon
CR5 1DF
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Details

Farthing Downs is an attractive area of chalk grassland with patches of young bushes and trees.On the highest point of the Downs are beech trees known as the Folly, and nearby is the Millennium cairn. On a clear day it is possible to see as far as buildings in the City and Canary Wharf.

Docile Sussex cattle graze here all year round. They have reflective leg bands so drivers can see them crossing the road during the night. New Hill is more secluded and has shady paths through tranquilancient woodland, which in spring has lovely displays of bluebells. Two paddocks thatare on the plateau have restricted access when being grazed by livestock.Throughout the year the animals can be found grazing other parts of the site to manage the floristically rich grassland and scrub.

Flint axes have been found here telling us that Stone Age people once hunted on the Downs. Clues on the ground tell us that Iron Age farmers cultivated the Downs in a network of small, rectangular fields. You can still see the low banks that divided the fields, especially in winter when the grass is short. In fact the speed humps on the road are part of these 2000 year old boundaries!
The more gruesome finds come from Saxon times when the Downs were used as a burial site. Abouttwenty barrows and six graves without mounds over the top have been found and excavated.The Downs are protected as a Scheduled AncientMonument because of their eventful past. 250 years ago, New Hill was divided into many separate fields, each with its own name. The only woodland existing then was on narrow banks betweensome of the fields.

The site was destined for development in the 1930s, and road construction began until the work was interrupted in the 1940s. Thehillside facing Farthing Downs was then ploughed and cultivated for crops until the 1960s. Since then the area has gradually become overgrown by ash and hawthorn.

Price

free

Opening Hours

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