Take a sunday stroll through the Castle Hill Nature Reserve
PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:30 30 May 2014
This month Hazel Sillver and four-legged friend explore the tranquil downland of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve, between Brighton and Lewes
Castle Hill Nature Reserve
The secluded Castle Hill Nature Reserve is nestled in the downland between Lewes and Brighton. It contains ancient chalk grassland that provides a vital habitat for wild flowers, including the early spider orchid and the vivid blue spring gentian, which both bloom in May. It’s also a wonderful place to see butterflies, such as the Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue and Small Blue.
NB. Do not pick any of the wild flowers in the Nature Reserve because some are extremely rare.
Location: Castle Hill Nature Reserve, near Kingston, Lewes, East Sussex
Distance: 6m (9.6km) – 2.5-3 hours to walk.
Terrain: Stony and grassy tracks, with a few steep slopes.
Where to park: At the end of The Street in Kingston village – drive past The Juggs pub (BN7 3NT) and St Pancras church, to the end, where there is a lay-by.
1 Go through the gate at the end of The Street and follow the path into woodland. The way soon divides – take the left-hand path, which goes uphill, narrows and brings you out into open downland. Head up the steep slope, eventually going over two stiles.
2 At the top of the hill, five paths meet. Head straight on, through a gate next to a cattle grid. A wide stony track leads downhill between fields.
3 In the valley bottom, go through the gate beside the barn. Walk through the field, which curves around this dip in the Downs. You will come to a gate (which is sometimes open) – go through this and walk through the next field to another gate.
4 At the farm buildings, turn left along a wide stony track.
5 Beneath a cluster of ash and sycamore trees, the way divides. Take the right-hand narrow path, which is signed by a post. This leads to a long line of large sycamore trees.
6 Follow the grassy path in a loop around the field, eventually heading upslope and looking back down on the farm buildings you’ve just passed.
7 The path leads past gorse bushes and looks down over the Castle Hill Nature Reserve. Eventually a mast will appear on your left and you will come to a gate. Before the gate, head right, taking the grassy path down-slope. Don’t walk down to the valley bottom, but stay up top, alongside the fence.
8 Eventually, go through the gate and into the Castle Hill Nature Reserve. Follow the narrow path that cuts along the side of the hill.
9 The narrow path curves around and eventually joins a wide stony track leading up from the valley bottom. Take this, heading uphill.
10 At the top of the hill, go through the gate and turn right.
11 You will come to another gate. Go through this, maintaining direction. You are now on the South Downs Way. Eventually you will be able to see Lewes and Mount Caburn in the distance.
12 After the dew pond, go through the gate and walk southwest past two more dew ponds to a gate.
13 At the crossing of the five paths, head left, back down the path you took at the start of the walk.
Where to eat:
The Juggs pub - Close to the start and end of the walk; dogs are welcome on a lead - shepherdneame.co.uk/pubs/lewes/juggs, 01273 472523, BN7 3NT
Spring Barn Farm - Serves breakfasts (until 11:30), lunches and afternoon tea – at the end of The Street, turn right and drive through Kingston village to a junction. Here turn left onto the main road and Spring Barn Farm is on your left.
BN7 3ND, 01273 488450, springbarnfarm.com