The Rock Walk sandstone adventure

Wakehurst Rock Walk Yew and rootsBoulders and small sandstone cliffs lined the path with majestic trees clinging to them like warrior riders. Luce and Theo pretended that they were explorers in a time warp as they climbed and traversed the sandrock outcrops.

We were following the Rock Walk which winds for over a kilometre along the edge of Bloomer Valley at Wakehurst Place. These sandstone ridges are a landscape feature of the High Weald an area which extends across West Sussex, East Sussex Kent and Surrey.

Luce and Theo imagined the dinosaurs who roamed here when the sandstone was first formed 100 to 140 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period. They walked with the dinosaurs as sand, clay and chalk was deposited on flood plains and rivers. The Tethys Sea came and then retreated. Then land uplifts and the Ice Age reshaped the landscape leaving behind these ridges of sandstone.

Wakehurst Rock Walk sandstone cliffs and kidsWakehurst Rock Walk tree on sandrockWakehurst Rock Walk weathered sandstoneWakehurst Rock Walk trees and sandstoneNext Luce and Theo pretended they were seeking shelter under the sandstone cliffs just like the Mesolithic hunters once had done in the Wealden Forests. Wakehurst Rock Walk kids in caveWakehurst Rock Walk sandstone cliff and tree rootsIt’s the same humid microclimate here as back in 4,000 BC, I explained, but they ignored me. They were off whooping with joy as they scrambled up ridges and climbed trees. Wakehurst Rock Walk with kidsWakehurst Rock Walk sandstone outcrops and Luce

Kryptonite? No, cryptogams

Wakehurst Rock Walk cryptogamsLook at these ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens growing on the sandstone, I said…to myself. The valley, rain and shade from the tree canopy have created the perfect conditions for cryptogams. There was a sudden flurry of interest from my twins as they thought I had said kryptonite. When they realised I was talking about mosses and ferns and such like reproducing from spores – rather than superpower material from another planet – they went back to their climbing.

Wakehurst Rock Walk sandstone ledge with twinsSo I just yelled at them to be careful on the sandstone and not to get too near a ledge as I continued to admire the habitat in this area now part of the Wakehurst and Chiddingly Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Wakehurst Place sandstone houseWhen their expedition ended, I mentioned that the house at Wakehurst Place was built from sandstone as well other places they’ve visited like Bodiam Castle and Gravetye Manor. Nervous that I was going to divert them, they made it clear it was time to head back home.  Wakehurst Rock Walk end of walkNo matter, I was happy my kids had a climbing, geological, historical and flora adventure on the sandstone outcrops at Wakehurst. That is Wakehurst Place, the West Sussex country estate of Kew where they also have been on adventurous journeys and more.

7 thoughts on “The Rock Walk sandstone adventure”

  1. Ha ha, sounds like me! I like to tell the kids about things I think will interest them but I’m sure I’m ignored half the time. Occasionally though I realise that the odd nugget has gone in. Looks like a great walk, I cannot blame the twins for wanting to climb 🙂

  2. Wow, I’ve never seen anything quite like that! The way the trees seem to grow out of the rocks and all the mosses and ferns really do look like you’ve stepped right back into prehistoric times.

  3. A lovely adventure and so great when they embark on their own mission, they are clearly taken with all the possibilities the landscape offers there. This really reminds me of my boys in our deer field on Country Kids a couple of weeks ago. The granite outcrops in our fields date back to the ice age and also remind me of your sandstone landscape. It is so important for children to have the chance to explore and learn about our countryside, to respect it and enjoy it. thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  4. This looks such a fascinating place to walk and the kids obviously made good use of such a great landscape for imaginative play. Well done on your educational efforts – made me giggle that they turned a deaf ear as soon as Kryptonite was not to be discovered!

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