on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Kingley Vale Yews

Stewart Gregory

Stewart Gregory

I am a commercial property lawyer who originally trained as an architect; during that training my parents bought me a Minolta X-300 to assist with my studies. I became more serious about my photography about ten years ago and today consider myself an enthusiastic amateur. I concentrate mainly on landscape images and am equally happy whether by the coast or out on the hills.

These images are from a late autumn visit to Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve (also known as Kingley Bottom) near Chichester in West Sussex. The reserve was established in 1952 and is renowned as one of the finest yew forests in western Europe.  Some of the trees are considered amongst the most ancient living organisms in Britain, in fact the oldest specimens are thought to be over 1000 years old. The reserve covers an area of 160 Ha, and near the foot of the vale are found about twenty of these fascinating contorted trees.  It is a landscape of twisted trunks and boughs that provide a very dense, dark cover to the woodland floor beneath them.

Finding pleasing compositions amongst the complex tangle of forms found within these trees is an interesting challenge, and I spent a long time just wandering amongst them.  In the deep shade shutter speeds run to several seconds, and controlling the highlights of patches of sky through the trees and reflections off the deep red boughs can be a challenge.

In addition to the ancient yews, the reserve also comprises some important lowland chalk grassland and is an archaeological site, with 14 scheduled ancient monuments within its boundaries.  Natural history photographers should therefore find plenty of interest.  From the top of the vale the views open out over Chichester, West Sussex, and the Channel beyond.

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