December 2012


The Park’s 200 Beulah ewes are currently grazing in Middle Valley which is on the southern slopes alongside the A3. Next week the rams will be removed after 2 months of doing what they do best and the 2013 lambs will be expected in the middle of April.

The ewes will then all be given a quick health check and a dose of wormer before being moved across to Grandfathers Bottom on the western side of the Hill.

A smaller flock of this years lambs are grazing in Target Valley, again on the Southern slopes of Butser Hill. They are being moved in small batches to the Rother Valley butchery before being sold as organic lamb.

Local farming brothers, Shon and Simon Sprackling, currently trading as Rother Valley Organics, run the Farm Business Tenancy on Butser. They manage the Park’s sheep flock and run their own beef cattle on the site. Grazing animals are essential to maintain the 750 acres of the National Nature Reserve in a favourable condition, with the sheep present all year round and the cattle only arriving in July once the majority of the chalk flora have finished flowering.

For more information about RVO go to




After several days when temperatures have been up to 12 degrees C the unseasonal weather is starting to confuse the Park’s wildlife.

The Park Centre and offices are full of blue-bottle flies which have woken from hibernation and are trying to get outside. Spiders can be seen spinning again and a female frog was found in the disabled toilet. Frogs always start spawning before the toads but typically this behaviour starts in early February.

This female frog, heavy with spawn, had come out of hibernation and was heading for the nearby pond. The majority of the other local frogs will be buried in the mud at the bottom of the pond and so better insulated against sudden short-term temperature changes.

The problem for all these species when they are brought out of hibernation is that a quick return to the more usual cold temperatures can prove fatal.

The long-range forecast is pointing to a very cold week in the middle of January with the prospect of snow!




2,000 Christmas trees and 900 visits to Santa’s Grotto later and the QECP staff needed a night out to celebrate the end of a successful Winter season. Joined by the National Park and Rights of Way teams, who are also based here in the Park Centre, the group went to the Seven Stars just up the road in the village of Stroud.

The Park remains open every day, and the main facilities are on limited opening on Christmas Eve and Day. Full details of opening times and future events can be found on the web-site at

For more information about the Seven Stars go to

Wishing all our customers a very Happy Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

The Christmas trees are fast running out after another busy week of sales. The children’s Christmas activities have been going on now for three weekends and will finish on Monday and Tuesday next week. By then just under 1,000 children will have taken part in the 2 hour ‘Christmas In The Park’ experience.


On Tuesday a group called Caterpillar Crafts will be at QECP. They work with the Park staff to offer themed activities designed for children with special needs, and their families. Their session will start with a craft activity, followed by a tractor and trailer ride in to the forest and a themed walking trail back to the visitor centre. And finally, Santa will be waiting in his grotto with a present.


Caterpillar Crafts offer pre-booked activities throughout the year at the Park. For more information contact Clair on 07830 256619 or go to the web-site at

For more details about other events at QECP go to

The site, shop and cafe will remain open over the Christmas holidays with the exception of the 24th (shop closed) and the 25th (shop and cafe closed).


Last weekend over 700 Christmas trees were sold from the Country Park’s sales area. This was the busiest weekend that we have ever had, helped no doubt by the fantastic seasonal weather.

The trees are brought in by Forestry Commission staff and are all sustainably grown in the UK. The three species sold are the Nordman fir, Norway spruce and the Lodgepole pine.

Only just over 700 trees remain in stock and they should last another week before all are sold.

For more information about Christmas trees see earlier post or look on the Forestry Commission’s web-site at


A few places still remain on the Christmas activities taking place on Tuesday the 18th December. Contact the visitor centre on 02392 595040 for more details.


The Buriton Volunteers have met again, this time to clear the two circular permissive trails that loop through the site. With bow-saw and brush-cutter this task was easily completed. Work has also taken place at the very top of the site across the road from the Halls Hill car park.

Here the team have identified an old pond site which will hopefully be restored before the Spring. Originally an old dew pond made of clay, the bottom was concreted early in the 20th Century when the site was a busy working chalk quarry. Over the years since then the pond dried out and the vegetation took over causing it to completely disappear from the landscape.

Currently three contractors are tendering for the restoration which will involve removing all the soil to expose the concrete and then overlaying a liner or layer of clay to ensure that the new pond will be watertight.

The volunteers and site ranger have been working hard clearing scrub from the old pond site and burning the arisings to allow the contractors access.

For more information about the Buriton Chalk Pits go to the Buriton Parish Community Website at

Volunteer work sessions take place on a regular basis and new members are always welcome.

This Autumn/Winter an enterprising group of local artists, crafters and producers have been running a  regular craft fare in the Park.  This event is based in the Annexe, located in the main Centre car park and entry is free. Opening times are from 10.00am through to 3.00pm.

The group last got together on the 2nd December and will next meet on Sunday the 16th December. Perfect timing for those Christmas presents. Each event gets bigger and better and the group is already making plans with the Park for 2013.

For more information about this and other events at QECP look on the web-site at

If you interested as a potential stallholder contact Carol Dilley on



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