Kingley Vale's Ancient Yew Tree Forest

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There is plenty of interest for all the family on this walk. A flat start gives you a good view ahead of Kingley Vale with its dark yew trees. Passing through the yew groves with their mysterious, ancient, gnarled trees, you can understand why so many superstitions have grown with them. Legend says that these were originally planted to commemorate a battle won by the local men of Chichester against Viking marauders in AD859. You can see why it is said that these yew groves are no place for the faint-hearted at twilight!

Leaving these spooky trees for delightful, chalk grassland, you will find a wealth of wildflowers and butterflies during the summer months. There is then a stiff climb through the younger yew forest, but you are well rewarded with fantastic views for miles around you from the Devil's Humps, tumuli on top of Bow Hill. There are six of these Bronze Age burial barrows but only four are obvious. There is one legend which suggests that in ancient times Danish kings died in battle here and are buried beneath the tumuli. Another legend suggests that they were kings from Wessex. This could explain why the area is called Kingley Vale. Walking along the top of the down, there is then a gentle descent, again with marvellous views of the coast, back to the field museum. If when you arrive back at the car park you feel that you would like to visit a country pub, then I can recommend the Horse and Groom at East Ashling (see additional information for directions). Here the food and ales are good and both kids and dogs are welcome.

Those of you with dogs may find it useful to know that there are no stiles on this walk and the gates are dog friendly, but dogs must be kept on a lead through the nature reserve.

England - South England - West Sussex - South Downs


Ancient Monument, Birds, Flowers, Good for Kids, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Museum, Nature Trail, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Wildlife, Woodland
3/31/2013 - Louise Lloyd

Walked on 29/03/2013. The yew trees are spectacular. The climb up the hill left me completely breathless but the view from the top of the devils humps was well worth it. Be prepared to duck under lots of low yew tree branches. The drections are spot on, although the photos were hard to recognise as the forest has grown so much. I will definitely be repeating this walk again and again.

9/17/2012 - Sarah Sinclair

Really excellent walk. Amazing Yew Trees. We've done a few of Sylvia's walks & they are clearly marked & described. Love the picture of her Black Labrador in the photos of her walks. Dog friendly although kept on a lead through the reserves. Very Steep hill in one part but worth it for the views. You do need to be quite able on your feet for the climb. But a great walk!!

10/26/2006 - Elizabeth Wright

Walked 17/10/06. Not much to add to Martin's comments, except that his comments were extremely helpful and his enthusiasm fully justified. Our first walk with WalkingWorld and we're hooked. YOU MUST DO THIS WALK, IF ONLY FOR THE YEW TREES!! Such a feeling of spirituality and peace. Did this walk with our Dutch friends and we all felt that it was an experience which will forever be burned into our memory.

9/12/2006 - Martin O'Keeffe

Walked 11/9/06. One of the most interesting walks I've been on in Sussex! One of the oldest & largest Yew tree forests in Europe, bronze age burial sites, fantastic views,- what more could you want? The Yew trees in particular are very 'atmospheric' - huge, with aged branches twisted into fantastic shapes.... You are left with a feeling of timelessness & our insignificance against these ancient living trees.... One suggestion for those who want (need) to avoid a climb of nearly 1 in 3 at some places between points 11 & 18 in the Nature reserve is not to take the short cut up the hill but to follow the (marked) nature trail - it might add c 1/2 mile but your heart might continue beating! Well worth an effort to travel to this site - please don't tell too many people though!

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