Wildlife walk around Knepp Estate
Knepp Estate is one of Europe's most successful rewilding projects. And, it's just a 30 minute drive from Brighton and Hove! If you want a change of scene from walking on the South Downs, this is a great option.
The pioneering rewilding project began back in 2001, and nature has since flourished. Deer, Exmoor ponies and Tamworth pigs roam across the 3,500 acres of land. Insect and birdlife is abundant. And, rare species like turtle doves, nightingales and peregrine falcons have made this special place their home. Recently Knepp hit the news, with the first white storks to hatch in the UK in centuries doing so there.
On the Knepp website, they have tons of information about what wildlife to look out for. They also run all sorts of activities and you can camp (or glamp) on the grounds.
Walks around Knepp
A walk around Knepp makes for a refreshing change. Whilst not quite an African safari, there's something exciting about not knowing what you'll see around the next corner. Whilst we're all used to seeing cows and horses in fields, it feels somehow more special to see them living this freer, more natural lifestyle.
There are marked walking routes around the estate of different lengths. You need to keep your eyes open for markers on fence posts, trees and rocks. We followed the 8.8km purple loop and found the markers somewhat sporadic, so it's definitely a good idea to have the map downloaded on your phone!
There are observation towers dotted around the estate - marked on the walkers map with purple tree symbols. They're built up into the trees, giving you a great vantage point for wildlife watching.
When we first arrived at this lookout by a pond, there were just a couple of ducks. Within minutes, a family of deer slowly emerged from the surrounding bush to enjoy lunch at the pond. Lucky timing perhaps, for this lovely sight!
You'll also find a bird hide at Knepp Millpond. We didn't stay for long, but on a rainy day this would be a good place to pause for a while and see what goes by.
Follow the Castle Walk loop, and true to it's name you'll see two castles. One, an ancient dilapidated tower of stone alongside the A24, the other is the magnificent home of the Burrell family. We stopped for our picnic by the modern version - life in lockdown here wouldn't be so bad!
Jonathan Creek's windmill
This windmill was featured in a previous post, when our mountain bike ride took us through a corner of Knepp and past the Shipley Windmill. You might recognise it from Jonathan Creek - but it's also famous in some circles for being the largest windmill in Sussex. In the woods by the windmill, we found carpets of wild garlic which became a delicious pesto back home.
Knepp feels like a place you could return to time and time again. We saw two types of deer (Roe and Red, we think) - but no ponies or pigs - so will be heading back in the hope of seeing more.