Kingsdown Wood (or the Bluebell Wood or the Magic Wood) sits on a clay outcrop through the chalk, providing a contrast to the surrounding countryside. The vegetation is more like that of the weald, with bluebells, celandines and wood anemones in spring, and becomes a dark gloomy place when the canopy closes in the summer.
The south-west part has quite large trees (mostly ash) while the greater part of the other half is hawthorn, knarled with age.
Now that the spring flowers have gone, there are just a few areas of red campion, and the splendidly-named enchanter's nightshade to brighten the gloom.
Mosses, bracken and lichen abound in the undergrowth, quite unlike the dry chalk downlands around the wood.
Until recently, the wood has been quiet in summer, with few birds apart from roosting wood pigeons, but over the past few years some clearings have been made, opening up parts of the wood to the sunlight, and encouraging nesting birds like green woodpeckers, blackcaps, blackbirds, robins and wrens, and butterflies (speckled woods and red admirals) and other insects. The variety of plants has also increased in these areas.
There is a hole at the eastern edge of the wood, which has become a good play area for kids, but which is of uncertain origin. We've found old bottles and crockery in the soil there, perhaps indicating the site of an old refuse tip, but others say it is a crater from a wartime bomb.
This part of the wood has large numbers of small pebbles in the soil, which I think occur naturally, although Tony Pettit, a naturalist and man of wisdom, told me that they may have been collected by early inhabitants of the wood, as ammunition for slings.