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With England in a national lockdown, the Government advice is to stay at home. Find information here on how to enjoy the National Park virtually, and how our services are operating during this time.

Serpent Trail

Serpent Trail

Explore the heathlands of the South Downs by following the 64 mile long Serpent Trail.

On this walk you will see the beautiful and internationally rare lowland heath habitat, 80% of which has been lost since the early 1800s, often through neglect and tree planting on previously open areas. It is based upon the sandy rocks and soils from which its name derives and has characteristic habitats of heathland, woodland, acid grassland and acid bogs.

Designed to highlight the outstanding landscape, wildlife and history of the greensand hills, you’ll pass through purple heather, green woods and golden valleys. Simply follow the Serpent Trail way-marker discs to explore some of the most breathtaking countryside in the South East.

Heathlands are now rarer than rainforest and one of our most threatened habitats, covering a mere 1% (1,595 hectares) of the South Downs National Park.

In 2002, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) provided a grant to restore this rare habitat and conserve existing areas within West Sussex. The Serpent Trail and the corridor of heathland habitat created along part of it is also important in linking up isolated heathland sites to encourage the recolonisation of once common species, such as the green tiger beetle and Dartford warbler.

Serpent Trail guided walks

Over 6 days, in July 2017  as part of our Heathlands Reunited Project we ran a program of guided walks covering the full 64 miles of the Serpent Trail. We were joined by story tellers bringing the heaths to life with re-enactments of real heathland stories and we met the site manager for each heath to tell us about the management and biodiversity of the site.

Find out more about Heathlands Reunited.

Get Your Guide

Serpent Trail CoverThe printed version of Serpent Trail guide is currently out of stock, although a reprint is planned. In the meantime please use the pdf version at the link below.

Serpent Trail Guide



" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "