Relax in Nature
Nature is good for you. Exercise is good for you. Getting exercise in nature is very good for you.
From Arundel to Rowlands Castle, the rolling chalk downland is covered with swathes of woodland, with distinctive beech and yew hangers clinging to the slopes. The open hilltops give widescreen views over vast fields, while the woods and coombes feel secluded and far away from modern life.
This area is dominated by vast fields dotted with ancient woodlands, such as Charlton Forest near Cocking which is said to be one of the largest beech plantations in Europe. There’s also Eartham Wood near Chichester and the vast Houghton Forest near Arundel.
Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve is famous for its grove of twisted and ancient yew trees, among the oldest living things in Britain. Of the 58 species of butterfly that breed in England, 39 have been recorded at Kingley Vale, including Chalkhill Blue, Holly Blue and Brimstone.
The varied landscapes of the Rother Valley provide habitats for an incredible range of flora and fauna. On open chalk grassland, wild flowers like the honey-scented Musk Orchid and horseshoe vetch thrive, attracting clouds of butterflies in the summer, including the Adonis Blue.
The River Rother’s meandering course creates wet woodland, marsh and wet meadow, home to birds like snipe and Bewick swan. South of the river, Lavington Common is renowned for the range of mosses and lichens found on the heath.
History is all around, from Iron Age Torberry Hill fort and Bignor Roman Villa, to Saxon villages and medieval landscaped parks.
On the slopes of Black Down miles of secluded walks lead through ancient oak, chestnut and beech hanger woodlands and flower-rich meadows. The 280m-high hill top is the highest point in the National Park and boasts views across five counties and out to sea. In high summer purple heather, bright gorse and wild flowers teem with bees, butterflies and insects.
This remote area has few main roads so is best enjoyed on foot. Explore the ancient sunken lanes, secluded beneath the tree canopy. The Serpent Trail snakes across the National Park linking isolated heathlands and passing medieval villages, woods and historic Petworth Park.
Woolbeding Common is a lowland heath with wide horizons and intimate secluded places. On the common you may spot rare birds such as the nightjar and woodlark. Reptiles and insects like the long-horned beetle thrive in the heather and gorse. Grazing by traditional hardy breeds like the Belted Galloway cows helps maintain diverse habitats – look out for Old Spot and Saddleback Pigs rooting in the bracken.