Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve
WOODEND, WEST SUSSEX
Kingley Vale NNR is best known for its twisted and ancient yews and includes a grove of veteran trees some of which may be among the oldest living things in Britain. The reserve is in a steep-sided dry valley (or coombe) consisting of chalk heath grassland, scrub, and mixed oak and ash woodland. This mosaic of habitats is important for insects and birds, including 39 species of butterflies, such as the chalk hill blue, holly blue and brimstone. Breeding birds at Kingley Vale include the nightingale, grasshopper warbler, blackcap, marsh tit and green woodpecker. Buzzards are often seen with other birds of prey including kestrel, sparrowhawk, red kite and tawny owl, and hobby in summer. Mammals found on the reserve include rabbits, roe deer, large herds of fallow deer, stoats, weasels, foxes, dormice, yellow-necked mice, badgers and bats. In addition to the chalk-loving plants like bird’s foot trefoil, kidney vetch and fairy flax, there are 11 different species of orchid at the reserve including bee, common spotted, frog and fly orchids.
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About the area
Discover West Sussex
Divided from East Sussex back in 1888, West Sussex is so typically English that to walk through its landscape will feel like a walk through the whole country. Within its boundaries lies a wide variety of landscape and coastal scenery, but it is the spacious and open South Downs with which the county is most closely associated.
In terms of walking, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Studying the map reveals a multitude of routes – many of them to be found within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park – and an assortment of scenic long-distance trails leading towards distant horizons; all of them offer a perfect way to get to the heart of ‘Sussex by the sea,’ as it has long been known. If you enjoy cycling with the salty tang of the sea for company, try the ride between Chichester and West Wittering. You can vary the return journey by taking the Itchenor ferry to Bosham.
West Sussex is renowned for its many pretty towns, of course. Notably, there is Arundel, littered with period buildings and dominated by the castle, the family home of the Duke of Norfolk, that dates back nearly 1,000 years.
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