A great South Downs National Park walk is at the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve! There is so much wildlife and culture attached to the area. It was one of the first areas in England to be designated a ‘National Nature Reserve’ back in 1952. The Kingley Vale walk is fairly short at just under 3 miles. We spent around 2 hours exploring the reserve and completing the Nature Trail. Most of it is fairly easy going, however we did take a short cut up a very steep gradient! In this post I share everything you need to know about the Kingley Vale walk in West Sussex UK.
Kingley Vale Walk
Kingley Vale Parking
🗺West Stoke Car Park, Downs Rd, Chichester PO18 9BE
🚗Approximately 25-30 parking spaces (mobile coffee van sometimes available, no toilet facilities)
💰1hr = £1.50 | All Day = £3
🚶🏻♀️The car park is 1.2km/0.75miles from the start of the Nature Trail (flat path)
Kingley Vale Map
Nature & Yew Tree Trail
After a short walk from the West Stoke Car Park, pass through the gate to join the 3.5km/2mile Nature Trail around Kingley Vale! Keep an eye out for signs to join the 1km Yew Tree Trail that runs alongside the main trail. It’s worth taking a short detour through this area. However the path is a little more overgrown and does involve stepping over and ducking under tree branches!
The Yew Tree Woodland is said to have trees that are over 500 years old! It almost looks creepy wandering between them. The branches and trunks are all twisted together and some of them have falling over. There are a lot of legends surrounding the trees and in medieval times the wood from yew trees was used to create spears and long bows.
There are plenty of interpretation boards along the walk. Here you can read about the history of the yew trees and the type of flora and fauna you may see along the route.
Alternative nature trail Route
At the end of the Yew Tree Trail, the Nature Trail continues round to the right. However we continued straight, taking a short cut up the steep gradient directly in front. In my opinion, this was my favourite part of the walk! It has amazing views across the surrounding countryside! It is quite hard going.
We stopped for a break on the bench half way up, before starting the steepest part of the hill. My friend said it used to literally just be a near vertical path (she had to crawl on her hands and knees!). There is now a nice shiny new set of wooden steps for the steepest section, making it a little easier and less slippery. Keep in mind that the main route is marked as having a ‘steep climb’ too! The main Nature Trail goes more through the woodlands rather than across the open area.
Make sure to turn around and take in the view BEFORE you reach the top! It looks really cool from half way up the steps! Once at the top, it joins back to the Nature Trail. Follow it to the left and through the gate to the summit of Bow Hill where you’ll see the ‘Devil’s Humps’.
The Devil’s Humps
There are two main humps on the Nature Trail, they are very obvious due to the perfectly circular mound shape. These are said to date back to the Bronze Age, almost 6000 years ago. They are also known as ‘barrows’ and are actually prehistoric burial mounds. It is said that these barrows are the final resting place of Viking lords so are sometimes called the ‘Kings Graves’. From this point there are great 360 degree views of the surrounding area.
From here, the path splits into two. Go through the gate on the left which leads into the woods. There’s a sign at the top that says you may be able to spot deers in this area, however we didn’t see any. Deers tend to be more active at dawn and dusk, so you may have more luck spotting them during these times. The track down can be a little uneven in places but it’s no where near as steep as the routes going up.
This path completes the circular route, connecting to back to the path near the beginning of the Yew Tree Trail. Pass through the gate to follow the track back to the West Stoke Car Park!
Kingley Vale Nature Reserve is approximately 5 miles from Chichester, West Sussex.
Inspired by the Kingley Vale walk in South Downs National Park? Pin it for later!