Bluebell Walk, Arlington

The Bluebell Walk at Bates Green Farm, Arlington which was first opened in 1972 opened this year for a 5-week period between 12th April and 19th May.

Unlike last year when the Bluebell Walk was a casualty of the first Covid 19 lockdown, to enable the Walk to be opened Honorary Rotarian John McCutchan put in place a series of measures to ensure social distancing.

He introduced a booking system to limit the number of visitors to not more than 65 visitors every hour from 10am until 4pm.  Further, the only walk available to see the vista of wood anemones and bluebells was one‑way round Beatons Wood, an ancient wood of oak and hornbeam, with a separate entrance and exit.  Unfortunately, there was no access to any of the farm trails out of Beatons Wood.  The restrictions imposed also meant that there were no mobility scooters or petting animals in the animal barn.  Neither was it possible to serve any food or drink in The Bluebell Barn.

At road junctions as you approached Bates Green Farm, each directional sign had a prominent sticker saying ‘Pre-booked entry only’ to detract potential visitors who had not pre-booked.

Thus, on Thursday 22nd, Friday 23rd April amd Tuesday 18th May, Seaford Rotary were at the Information Kiosk located at the farm entrance gate to check and ensure that only visitors who had booked and paid entered at their assigned time.  Seaford Rotary were not able to offer refreshments including their usual array of homemade cakes and other delicacies.

Each spring, Beatons Wood, provides a landscape of colours changing with the increasing warmth of the days.  The timing of when the bluebells blossom is however dictated by nature, and as according to the Met Office ‘April 2021 had the lowest average minimum temperatures for April in the UK since 1922, as air frost and clear conditions combined for a frost-laden, chilly month, despite long hours of sunshine’, on 22nd and 23rd April, bluebell leaves were still emerging through a white carpet of wood anemones.  There were some patches of blue where English bluebells could be seen but white was the dominant colour above a sea of green leaves.  By 18th May, there was however a blue panorama of English bluebells in their full glory.

Access was available to the Bates Green Garden subject to paying a separate entrance fee, but only to those who had booked to go on the Bluebell Walk.  The garden has been restored and was open to the public for the first time in five years.

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