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Things to see and do at Drovers Estate

An aerial view over the mixed landscape of woodland and farmland at Drover's Estate in West Sussex
Drover's Estate in West Sussex | © National Trust Images/Dr Mike Howarth (MHMVR SERVICES)

Although the large house that once stood at Drovers Estate was completely destroyed by 1815, there’s still plenty to see and do here in this hidden estate in the valleys of the South Downs. The mixture of habitats, encompassing rolling hills, ancient woods and disused railway tunnels, provides a home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna.

Historical happenings

The former railway between Chichester and Midhurst opened in 1881, with the railway line and station passing through Drovers Estate and Singleton village.

The station was built in a grand design to accommodate visitors to Goodwood racecourse but the line eventually closed. The tunnels are now inaccessible and are legally protected bat roosts.

Many of the remaining farm buildings and barns retain local building styles and haven’t changed much over time.

Wonderful woodlands

Drovers’ woods contain some impressive old beech pollards, areas of hazel and oak, and carpets of woodland anemones in spring.

Early purple orchids and butcher's broom – a spiky evergreen shrub once used to clean butcher's meat tables – are also found here.

Waymarked walks

Drovers is all about being on a less trodden path through a range of habitats, woodland trails and open views. You can enjoy circular walks by following the waymarked permissive routes.

A row of poplar trees with dense woodland behind
Poplar trees at Woolbeding | © National Trust Images/Jo Hatcher


Birds on the wing

The hedgerows here provide cover and an abundance of berries for birds to feed on in the autumn, and the grassland insects offer up a veritable feast.

The estate is also a hot spot for kestrels and red kites, so keep an eye out on the sky as you enjoy your walk.

Beautiful butterflies

Hat Hill is a special area of chalk downland. Its steep slope means that it was never ploughed or cultivated, allowing it to be grazed by deer and livestock. It has remained a wild and natural open area rich in flowers and insects, which in turn is perfect for butterflies.

Marbled whites, skippers and blue butterflies proliferate here in the height of summer.

Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)
Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) | © National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

Bats at Drovers Estate

As West Sussex is one of the most wooded areas in the country, the number of bat species here is particularly high. At Drovers Estate, the blend of woodland, hedgerows, scrub and old buildings provides a great habitat for them. The trees provide roosting sites while large hedgerows and rough grass are ideal for them to find food in.

Beside the old railway tunnel in late summer is a hotspot for bat species including pipistrelle, long-eared, whiskered and natterer's bats.

For more information on these fascinating creatures visit the Bat Conservation Trust website.   

Coppiced beech trees at Low Scrubs


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