Chalk grassland nature reserve at Levin Down
The Down is a steep but fairly small hill which fills the dip between the Trundle and the heights of the South Downs Way - which you can reach from Levin Down through the gently climbing South Downs Way Singleton Forest and Charlton Forest.
The nature reserve at Levin Down is run by the excellent Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Levin Down Nature Reserve is an interesting experiment in restoring a traditional downland habitat which is not altogether natural and yet not altogether man-made either.
The Sussex landscape, particularly that of the South Downs, has traditionally been managed by man, with a little help from grazing animals - especially sheep.
Sheep (together with rabbits) are responsible for the typically close nibbled texture of downland grass. The shortness of this grass allows a rich carpet of special plants to develop alongside it. These plants include some of the real treasures of the South Downs habitat - such as the ladies tresses orchid, wild thyme or fairy flax.
Other downland flowers thrive in a scrubland environment and this is where Levin Down comes into its own.
Levin Down doesn't look like the agricultural land all around it, as you can see from the photo above. Sometimes it looks depressingly brown, at other times it looks white, chalky and arid.
But appearances can be deceptive because an incredible range of wildlife loves living here. There's an excellent mix of woodland, grassland and scrubland in a small area and this is one of the reasons for the outstanding biodiversity achieved by the nature reserve.
Butterflies are the stars of the show at Levin Down, but look out for juniper bushes, grasshoppers and birds like yellowhammers too.
Try staring at a square metre of Levin Down turf and see how many different species of plant you can spot. You might be surprised just how many you can find.
Tips for visiting Levin Down Nature ReservePark in either Charlton or Singleton (which can also be reached by the number 60 Midhurst to Chichester bus).
There are good pubs in both villages, so leave time for a pint!
Parts of the Nature Reserve can be a bit muddy in winter or steep, dry and dusty in summer, so good shoes are a must.
You can walk round the nature reserve in about an hour - avoid the footpath on the west side of Levin Down which takes you through Cucumber Farm as you will have to walk back along the busy A286. There's no pavement and walking here can be both dangerous and scary.
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