There are lots of legends and myths surrounding the yew tree (its sap can kill), and nowhere can you find the finest yew tree forest in Europe but Kingley Vale. The yews in this forest are also amongst the oldest in the world. Some of the trees are TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD. They are known as the ancient watchers.
So on a beautiful summer’s day, I enticed my partner here because he had always said that I practice some sort of Hampshire magic. So here is I, in my domain.
Though it was sunny, the yew forest was dark and forbidding. This is the haunt of the pagan druids and it is a memorial of the victorious Saxon warriors of Chichester. It is said that the ghost of Tennyson wonders here still.
“You may walk freely among the dark religious trees, with trunks like huge, rudely fashioned pillars of red and purple iron-stone. One has the sensation of being in a vast cathedral; not like that of Chichester, but older and infinitely vaster; fuller of light and gloom and mystery, and more wonderful in its associations.”
– W.H Hudson, naturalist (1841-1922)
But apart from the trees, walking on Kingley Vale gives you a whole breadth of English wildlife. Of the 58 species of butterflies found in England, you can see 39 here, for in the sunny spots between the religious yew trees, you have meadows and grasslands teeming with flowers and insects. I did my Biology A level field trip here and it is good to be back sharing this magical place with my partner. The woods have not changed for 2000 years and it will be here for another 2000 and beyond. That’s magic.