Kingley Vale (NNR) and Devil’s Humps

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Article By: Matt Lynch
a month ago
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Kingley Vale was one of the UK"s first National Nature Reserves to be announced in 1952. To accompany this, it contains one of the best yew tree forests in western Europe. Amongst these ancient woods stand some of the oldest living specimens in Britain. Several are estimated to be at least 500 years old. The area is a 505-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest just north of Chichester in the West Sussex region of the South Downs National Park. There are numerous routes winding amongst the woodland with the Natural England nature trail being one of the most popular. The path takes you down between the trees before climbing up Bow Hill to reach a chalk bluff with expansive views over the valley below you. From here you can also see the shine of The Solent meeting The English Channel on the horizon. Near the summit of Bow Hill are four large mounds of grass known as the Devil's Humps. These are some of the best surviving examples of Bronze Age barrows in the National Park. These barrows were used as burial grounds and, due to their size and position, are expected to hold important figures of the time such as chiefs and priests. The West Stoke Car Park at the base of Kingley Vale is free to park in. At the trailhead, there's a signpost with a map detailing the walking paths and flora and fauna in the area. Expect the walk to take between 1-2 hours to complete. TOP TIP - Kingley Vale is home to resident populations of avian species. Once you reach Bow Hill it's worth stopping for a while and scanning the sky to see if you can spot any green woodpeckers, red kites, or buzzards. FOOD & DRINKS - There is nowhere in the immediate vicinity of Kingley Vale to get refreshments but just south of the nature reserve are a couple of excellent pubs in the nearby hamlets. The Fox & Hounds is a traditional-style pub and The Richmond Arms is a more experimental gastropub/restaurant - both worth a visit.
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  • Kingley Vale (NNR), South Downs National Park, Chichester PO18 9BS, UK
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