Walk along Bow Hill to the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve

You may want to take water and a snack if you choose to take this walk from Chilgrove as there is no formal  ‘watering hole’ to stop off at until you get back to the White Horse in Chilgrove.

Kingley Vale is a national nature reserve which contains one of the finest yew forests in Europe. It became one of the very first national nature reserves in 1952

It is also one of the most important archaeological sites in southern England with 14 ancient monuments. It is a long walk but possible from Chilgrove along the length of Bow hill before dropping down into the grove of ancient yews in the vale. Alternatively, for an easier stroll drive to the designated car park at West Stoke and take the clearly marked footpath.

It is a magical place which according to folklore was planted by the Vikings to commemorate a battle fought there in the 9th century. the vale has a mystical and eerie atmosphere and the yew grove at twilight is no place for the faint-hearted! The walk to the top of Bow hill is well worth the effort. The reward is the magnificent view across Chichester and Chichester plain to the harbour and the sea. The Isle of Wight may also be in view on a clear day.

To walk from Chilgrove start off as in walk 1.

  1. Turn left out of the farmhouse courtyard and walk through the park towards the main road. At the small crossroads turn right and walk across the green and along side the main road towards the The White Horse pub. Cross the road and take the signposted bridleway which climbs steeply uphill off the road.
  2. At the top of the first climb take a left turn along a well used track. After  a short walk You will pass what used to be the old Pest House, where in 1758 people inoculated against smallpox by Samuel Jenner were isolated. Continue on through a gateway and continue along the gallop, ignoring all paths to both left and right.
  3. As you get further along the ridge of Bow Hill views open up to the left across the valley and towards Trundle hill in the distance. Eventually you will come to a junction where the path in front of you narrows and starts to descend steeply in front of you. At this junction turn right and follow the wide level track until it opens out onto a wide grassy area with far ranging views to north and south. Here you will find two large burial mounds lying to the right of the path, known locally as the devils Humps.
  4. From here you will be able to view the spire of Chichester cathedral and beyond it the sea. This is the perfect to stop to enjoy your sandwiches and coffee!
  5. From This point you have two options, you can either re-trace your steps back to Chilgrove, or, if you have the energy and want to venture into the magical Yew tree forest of Kingley Vale then resume by walking back the way you have come with the view of the sea to your right now. Look out for a diagonal path leading off slightly downhill to your right.
  6. This path takes you round the rim of Kingley Vale with a drop into the vale on your right-hand side. You will now begin to descend into the quite and magical Yew trees. As you approach the floor of the vale take a right turn over a style. The path continues south through the oldest of the Yews, thought to date back 2000 years – some of the oldest living things in England.
  7. Continue through the vale and ventually you will come to the Vale field hut. At this point go through the gate onto the main track and turn left. Disregard the path which goes off to the right and leads to West Stoke car park.
  8. Follow this chalky track uphill and out of the vale until the view opens out and you can see bow hill to your left across a field. Continue uphill until you reach a crossroads.
  9. now take the left turn up a narrow path which is fenced and  has fields on either side. The path climbs back up towards Bow Hill and offers wonderful far-reacing views in all directions. Follow the steep path through the trees until you meet junction where previously you turned right to the Devils Humps in section 3. above.
  10. Keep right now and re-trace your steps back along the top of Bow hill keeping theChilgrove road to your right down in the valley until you pass the old Pest House again.
  11. Continue to the end of the track, then  turn right when the track forks at the end of the ridge, dropping back down into Chilgrove where you can enjoy a well deserved pint or Gin and Tonic on the terrace at the White Horse Inn!