Old Roar Gill & Coronation Wood
Old Roar Gill
Old Roar is a deeply cut narrow valley running along the path of a stream that starts from the sandstone ridge to the North of Hastings and runs through Alexandra Park and eventually to the sea. The soft rock has enabled the stream to cut down for a considerable distance over the centuries.
The name Old Roar is from one of the two waterfalls at the heart of the gill where the stream plunges over harder rock. After heavy rain the falling water makes a roaring sound. The word gill is popular in Sussex, meaning steep sided valley and can also be spelt as Ghyll.
Gills in general are a haven for wildlife and plants. The continuous tree cover creates a damp and shady microclimate and coupled with the sandstone rock allows for some remarkable rare ferns, mosses and liverworts, plus the insects and creatures that thrive among them.
Old Roar Gill has a rich diversity of woodland flowering plants including bluebells, red campions, yellow archangel, lady's smock, primroses, violets and toothwort.
One of the rarer insects of Old Roar Gill breeds in the wet dead wood is a cranefly known as Lipsothrix Nervosa. This is fast becoming a rare species in Britain and can't be found anywhere else in the world.
The Gill is a perfect habitat for a variety of birds including the kingfisher, spotted flycatcher, grey wagtail and lesser spotted woodpecker.
On the upper slopes of the gill is a thick covering of mature woodland, some of it still in existance from ancient forest and some that has regenerated of it's own accord after clear-felling, plus some that have been planted.
Coronation Wood is a good example of the later with its wide variety of tree species that were planted in 1937 as part of a scheme to celebrate King George VI. Further trees and replacements have been added since. The Coronation Wood is managed as amenity woodland with trees being allowed to mature fully being the feature of most importance. Many of the trees are oaks that have been grown from acorns gathered in Windsor Great Park.
The lower section of Old Roar Gill and the land that is now Coronation Wood were purchased by Hastings Borough Council between1930 and 1935, and in 1995 the upper section was purchased too. The whole area was declared a local nature reserve in 2002 with support of English Nature.