Shipley Village car park, School Lane
Walking level: Easy
Distance: 4.23 miles, with optional additions
Refreshments: Two pubs available by extending walk: The Countryman at Shipley and Crown Inn Dial Post. Refreshments also available at Knepp Safari shop open Easter to 31 October.
Toilets: Available in the two pubs by extending the walk.
Dogs: While generally timid, please do not approach the Knepp Estate free roaming animals including Exmoor Ponies, deer, cattle and pigs. Do not approach the animals. Keep dogs on leads.
No stiles; instead kissing or farm gates, generally level terrain on public rights of way with short stages on minor roads.
The round-trip trail is 4.23 miles, with an option to extend to 5.43 miles if Countryman Inn, Shipley is visited or 6.58 miles if Crown Inn, Dial Post is visited.
A self-guided trail exploring the iron industry of the Knepp Estate and the effect of wilding former farmland on wildlife, vegetation and livestock.
The trail runs within the Knepp Estate joining the route used to carry iron ‘sows’ - large cast iron ‘bars’, 2-3m long and weighing half a tonne or more - from Knepp furnace to Shipley forge for refining. The Knepp Estate introduced ‘wilding’ of its 3500 acres in 2000 allowing cattle, pigs and deer to roam free as well as attracting a multitude of wildlife. Please read the additional information below on walking through the Knepp Estate.
Key sites include:
- Present-day Knepp Castle, built in the early 1800s and designed by John Nash
- The Norman Knepp Castle ruin
- The furnace pond
- The Caryll tomb dated 1616
Trail point 11: If you wish to continue to Dial Post, where there is the Crown Inn, follow the optional additional route below. If not, retrace your steps to 9 and turn left onto Countryman Lane (Beware traffic).
Optional additional route from Point 11 to Dial Post and the Crown Inn
- Continue along the track over the hammer pond dam and up the hill. The field to the left was where the charcoal store for the forge was located.
- Turn left at the top of the hill and continue through the gate into New Barn Farm. Follow the path through the farm – left than right - and exit the gate with a pillar on one side. (Beware traffic) The track is used by vehicles to the Knepp Safari camp site.
- To your right is the Knepp Safari camp which includes a small shop in the building to the right, open Easter to end of October. Maps are available showing wildlife trails through the Estate.
- Continue down the track. On your right note the nesting poles for the White Storks introduced to Knepp from Poland in 2016. Three pairs nested in 2020 and eight juveniles resulted. The birds are free to fly and spent the summer in Devon and Cornwall, joining other storks in Autumn to migrate to Africa.
- Continue along the track passing the ‘Walkers’ car park. This is an alternative route into Knepp should you wish to return to explore the wildlife trails. There is a small charge payable at the campsite shop.
- The track joins Swallows Lane at the entrance to the Knepp Safari Estate. Turn right onto Swallows Lane (Beware traffic) and after 100m or so right again into Worthing Road. The Crown Inn is a little further, on the left.
- Be aware that in winter the circular return route can be muddy.
- Cross the village green opposite the pub, follow the footpath sign and pass through a deer gate. Continue along an avenue of trees for about 100m. Turn right at the footpath fingerpost. The path takes you through scrub land where the hedges have been allowed to grow out, ideal habitat for nightingales, cuckoos and creating an orchestra of bird song in Spring. You may also encounter Exmoor ponies, deer and cattle on your way.
- Continue to the end of the track and turn right, pass through the gate. The camp site is to your right and then a pond. Turn left when you enter New Barn Farm again and retrace your steps to the Hammer Pond. Here, return to point 9, turn left onto Countryman Lane (beware traffic) and follow the route 12 to 14 back to Shipley.
Knepp Castle Estate – A private estate that has transformed our thinking on re-wilding.
Walking here is a totally different experience to other places in Horsham District – that is what makes it so special.
There are free-roaming animals, including red and fallow deer, wild ponies, de-domesticated cattle and pigs.
The toilets on the campsite are not available to walkers; they are for campsite guests only. The safari shop is open to all for refreshments from Easter – end Oct, and most weekends through the winter.
For your safety and that of the wildlife – think of it as a Safari Park that allows you to walk through it with great care. It is a magical experience that relies on visitors observing the following:
- don’t approach, pet or feed the free-roaming animals - the cattle, horses and pigs are not ‘domesticated’ animals and it is important for your safety and theirs that they maintain a flight distance, as they would in the wild.
- always keep dogs under strict control.
- keep to public footpaths at all times.
- take particular care of red deer stags and fallow bucks during the autumn rut when testosterone levels are high, and do not try to get close to photograph them.
- obey all notices and ‘wildlife only’ signs – some routes may look like footpaths but they are service tracks used by our rangers. It is vitally important that the wildlife and free-roaming animals at Knepp have access to areas where they can mate, breed, have their young and socially interact without human disturbance.
To find out more about this amazing project please visit www.knepp.co.uk.
Additional information and bibliography
- Wealden Iron
- Knepp White Storks project
- The Wealden Iron Industry by Jeremy Hodgkinson Tempus Publishing, The History Press 2008 ISBN 978 0 7524 4573 1
- The Iron Industry of the Weald 2nd Ed H Cleere & D Crossley Merton Priory Press 1995 (Out of print but available in digital format on the Wealden Iron website)