It was a warm sunny Good Friday, perfect for a short training walk for Shakleton to prepare him for adventures with us and 1st Bedhampton Scout Group. So, a trip to Kingley Vale was decided.
Kingley Vale is a Nature reserve on the South Downs in West Sussex. There is more information on the website www.english-nature.org.uk under National Nature Reserves, area West Sussex.
We parked in the small car-park near West Stoke to the south of the Downs and proceeded to walk northwards. The path takes you into the reserve and via several routes through the yew forest - the oldest in the world - which covers the south facing slope of the South Downs. (Don't know why they are called 'Downs' as it is a very steep walk up to the top). Once you come out of the forest onto the top of the ridge, the view is wonderful: Chichester and out to the English Channel to the south and rolling hills to the north. Along the top of the ridge are ancient bronze age burial mounds.
If you are feeling energetic, you can follow the path down the northern side of the ridge through pine woods and into the village of Stoughton, where the Hare and Hounds is reputed to serve good food and beer. As it was getting late in the afternoon, we had to get back and took the relatively easy path around the steepest part of the yew forest and back to the car.