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Castle Hill: Woodingdean

A family walk on Castle Hill
Photo by Tony Mould
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National Nature Reserve

I love walking, and lead walks for the healthwalks programme and others. Although I’d walked round here many times, it was only with the introduction of a healthwalk that passes through the Castle Hill National Nature Reserve, that I really came to appreciate the area.

Away from everyday hustle

It is so close to central Brighton and parallel to the busy Falmer Road yet once in the nature reserve there is a feeling of being far away from the hustle of everyday life. Complete peace and calm – the only noise is of sheep and birds, perhaps an occasional aircraft overhead. I like to learn about an area I walk in and pass this information on to others. People are often interested in knowing which wildflowers they see and hearing about local history and landmarks in view.

Conservation and maintenance essential

Castle Hill nature reserve is an important chalkland site. There are so few of these now it is essential that they are conserved and maintained. This does not mean that they are static, they have to be actively managed. A lot has been done recently clearing the scrub that crowds out the chalkland plants. Last winter it was amazing to round a corner and be confronted by Exmoor ponies grazing, part of the overall management of the area. The nature reserve has an amazing variety of flora and, as in Sheepcote valley, 2009 seemed to be a particularly good year.

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