Nature Reserves and places to enjoy wildlife
Many of these habitats are now protected as nature reserves. But it's incorrect to assume that this means that nature can flourish without any interference from man.
Some habitats, like cleared heathland, were created by the actions of man in the first place. Others depend on active management of nature by man to ensure that the special plants, insects, reptiles and birds they encourage get a chance to establish themselves without too much competition from other creatures.
Here's our guide to some of the best nature reserves in West Sussex.
Stedham Common Nature Reserve
Just west of Midhurst there's a wonderful strip of sandy heathland at Stedham, Trotton and Iping Commons, ideal for a short walk.
The Greensand Belt continues east of Midhurst where Duncton Common and Lavington Common are a great examples of how man is bringing heathland back to West Sussex.
If you're a fan of the right to roam the vast expanse of Harting Down Nature Reserve is a place where you can enjoy close cropped downland turf and a feeling of being on top of the world.
One of our favourite places in the whole of West Sussex. Kingley Vale's ancient yew woodland is a truly awe-inspiring place to enjoy nature.
A winter wonderland for birdlife, Waltham Brooks south of Greatham Bridge is a great place to see migrating birds.
And just downriver from Waltham Brooks, Amberley Wildbrooks flood each winter to drive man away and the wildlife in. Summer sees the river valley return to lush meadow. A special place.
Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve
Once a major port, then reclaimed land, Pagham Harbour was reinvaded by the sea a century ago and its shallow waters are a great haven for migrating birds.
One of the most successful nature reserves in England, Chichester Harbour's creeks and inlets are enjoyed by thousands of people and countless birds.
Heyshott Down Nature Reserve
Small, steep and spectacular, Heyshott Down's chalkland habitat is a stone's throw from the South Downs Way and a thousand years away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Levin Down Nature Reserve
A highly managed environment makes Levin Down's thin chalky soil a haven for rare Sussex wildlife, including butterflies and many plant species.
Other good West Sussex Nature Reserves
Ebernoe Common and Butcherlands
Wood pasture north of Petworth, part of which is part of a project to turn it back into woodland.
Warnham Local Nature Reserve
Formerly a huge hammerpond, now a thriving nature reserve where you can see herons and other birdlife.
Quiet streamside meadows south of Fernhurst. Good for the soul.
One of the wildest woodland nature reserves in south east England is located west of Wisborough Green. The Mens is one of the best places in West Sussex if you want to get back to nature.
Mixed habitat of meadows, woodland and wetlands not far from Ditchling. This is a private nature reserve and farm business operated as a family attraction.
Burton and Chingford Ponds
Duncton's former hammer ponds are now wonderful places to enjoy wildlife, with woodland side-by-side with heathland a wetlands at the ponds' edge.
The HQ of the Sussex Wildlife Trust at Small Dole is a great place to take small children to learn about wildlife.
A miniature haven for marshland plants. Access is by appointment with the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
RSPB Pulborough Brooks
The most northerly of the three great Arun Valley nature reserves - and the most formally organised, with a visitor centre half way between Pulborough and Storrington.
A small oak and hazel woodland which form part of Binsted Woods. You can walk around Hundredhouse Copse, but not through it.
Marshland between Runcton and Chichester being used to provide a suitable habitat for marsh orchids.
Mill Hill Nature Reserve
Spectacular hill towering over Shoreham-by-Sea and the Adur Valley, famed for its fabulous Sussex downland butterflies.
East Grinstead's Ashplat's Wood is a typical corner of the High Weald and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. Ashplat's Wood was originally intended as a memorial for those who dies in the second world war. A timeless and peaceful place such as this is a fitting tribute.
Closed to the public to protect the bats that live in the sandstone caves - and to protect the public too. Marehill Quarry is a dangerous place.
Bedelands Farm Nature Reserve
A lovely mixture of managed and wild woodlands north of Burgess Hill, also incorporating ponds and wild meadows.
Scrace Valley Nature Reserve
A 15 acre nature reserve near Haywards Heath noted for its rare plants and flood plain habitat.
Beyond the Hinge: East Head's fragile sand spit shelters a rare salt marsh environment in Chichester Harbour. One of the most popular nature reserves in West Sussex.
Eastern Road Nature Reserve
The lovely village of Lindfield has its own nature reserve set around the Scrase Valley. Once a highly polluted corner of the valley, now a wilderness area where nature is largely left to run amok.
RSPB Bracklesham Bay
One of the newer nature reserves in West Sussex. RSPB Bracklesham Bay is 120 acres of coastal marshland habitat - great for migrating birds and waders.
Ashenground and Bolnore Woods Local Nature Reserve
A patch of ancient woodland near Haywards Heath cared for by the Friends of Ashenground and Bolnore Woods.
Blunts Wood and Paiges Meadow
Nature reserve between Haywards Heath and Cuckfield with an active programme of volunteer sctivities, especially when it comes to coppicing the hornbeam and hazel woodland.
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