Natural England - Castle Hill NNR

Castle Hill NNR

Castle Hill is one of the finest examples of ancient, wildflower-rich, chalk grassland sites in the country.

Guided Walk on Castle Hill

County: East Sussex

Main habitats: Lowland chalk grassland and mixed scrub.

Other designations: Castle Hill is designated a SSSI, a Biogenetic Reserve by the Council of Europe and is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive.

Why visit: As well as a beautiful landscape with panoramic views, there is a wealth of wild plants and animals to enjoy discovering on the Reserve. Castle Hill NNR is a popular destination for Brighton residents, out for a walk, a cycle or horse ride. It is an ideal destination for anyone seeking tranquillity, fresh air, sea views and a chance to escape the hurly burly of urban life.

Star species: Early spider orchid and Spring gentian. Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, small blue and silver spotted skipper butterflies. Long winged cone head, Roessel’s and wart biter crickets.

Access: Castle Hill NNR is ‘open access’ land, enabling visitors to take advantage of wandering freely around the site. We do however recommend keeping to the paths to avoid unnecessary disturbance of wildlife, particularly during the nesting season and flowering season. The site is open to the public all year round, free of charge.

Other nearby attractions: The Reserve lies on the edge of Brighton and is part of Brighton and Hove City Council’sexternal link land holding. It also sits in the heart of the South Downs National Parkexternal link.

Nearby sites also include Lewes Downs (Mount Caburn) NNR, Lullington Heath NNR, Seven Sisters Country Parkexternal link / Friston Forestexternal link.

The National Trustexternal link own and manage downland properties in the area, such as Devil’s Dyke. The Sussex Wildlife Trustexternal link also have several reserves in the area.

Please follow the Countryside Code when visiting the Reserve.

  • Please keep dogs under effective control to protect grazing animals and sensitive wildlife. The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘open access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.

  • Please leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home

  • Please leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available

  • Camping and fires are not allowed within the Reserve

  • Mountain bikes and horses can cause severe damage to the turf and riders must keep to bridleways

  • Respect other people – By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse- riders on bridleways.

  • Plan ahead and be prepared – You are responsible for your own safety and for others in your care

Further information

For further information about the reserve, please call the Senior Reserves Manager on 07971 974401 or the Reserves Manager on 07825 386620.