access to knepp estate


The castle itself is closed to the public except for occasional tours by Historical Societies, as it is a private family home, but the estate is crisscrossed with about 26km of public rights of way, plus additional permissive routes together with groups visits, and an open access area. 

We who live on the estate believe that the use of these routes has become a whole lot better since we reverted from conventional agriculture to the parkland and wildland projects and certainly the number of people that use the footpaths in the park has escalated enormously with the main attraction being the potential to see our wonderful animals.

Bridleways & Footpaths The estate and West Sussex County Council maintain the public network jointly, and we work closely with the local ranger service to ensure that our rights of way network is in good condition. 

In 2010 listening to some locals, we have invested considerably in the main bridleway at Penbridge by resurfacing the worst areas around the bridge itself.  We were assisted with the valiant efforts of volunteer helpers on our big volunteer day in September, the object being to cut back any scrub growth on the inside of the ditches.  We will then go on to reduce the height of the main hedges that flank the bridleway and hope that light will help to keep the surface dry. 

We will over the next few years be continuing to clear the ditches on this bridleway and hope to maintain this in the long term as a lovely country walk or ride, through the heart of the estate.  

We do rely heavily on people’s comments on the footpath network and if anyone identifies any hazards or obstacles please do bring them to our attention so that we can deal with them. 

Our animals may be encountered on any of these footpaths or bridleways but hopefully they will get out of the way and if they seem stubborn and won’t budge then do feel free to move around and leave the definitive line of the route.

Permissive Routes To try and make more sense of some of the footpaths we have created some links and additions around Shipley, Dial Post and Countryman Lane.  These new routes can be seen on the plans on the left of this page. Click on the map you would like to look at. 

The area around the old Knepp Castle ruin is also an open access area and has been now since 2002, so please do feel free to park at Floodgates entrance and visit the old ruin.

Toll Rides Our area is very popular with horse riders and again in order to make some sense of the local riding routes and try and encourage people to avoid the roads, we have created a Toll Ride network TROT).  The idea is that you subscribe to ride on these.  They are not open for anyone to ride on as there is considerable additional costs each year in maintaining them and we therefore insist on a membership system and we do police this! Once a rider becomes a member of TROT they can use ALL other farm or forestry routes nationwide for no extra fee (see the TROT web site).

If you would like to join the Trot Ride Scheme to use these do please contact Jo Francis (07769 908718).   

Educational Tours There have always been the odd visit from interest groups and schools to the estate, but this was formalised in 2002 when we went into Countryside Stewardship when it became an obligation on us to have at least 5 of these visits a year, particularly aimed at school children.

A few years ago we became so inundated with requests that we had our own bespoke trailer built to ferry people around and in the last 3 years numbers of visitors has doubled year on year, with about 650 visiting in 33 groups in 2010.  

Tractor tours are limited to the period when ground conditions are suitable, but in the winter walks can be arranged to show some of the hidden secrets in the park.  Generally 25 is the maximum number that we like to accommodate on a visit and if you have a group that would like to attend please do e-mail  

For members of the public who are not associated with any group, we do have two visits a year – Open Farm Sunday in June and the Horsham Food Festival in September.  If you would like to sign up for either of these to visit then please contact Sandra at the estate office.  

There is a very long list of groups that have visited now since 2002 and some incredible feedback from people who have visited which does make what we do all the more worthwhile.  

Finally when visiting Knepp we obviously hope that you have a wonderful visit but we do ask that certain rules are adhered to:  

1.      On no account should any of the animals be fed or petted.  The reason for this is that they will then trouble the next person walking through the estate for attention and this may not be welcome and can lead to danger.  

2.     We insist that walkers follow the Countryside Code, particularly in relation to dog walking during the bird nesting season.  Our gamekeepers will become quite excitable if they come across dogs roaming away from footpaths as once a bird is put off its nest it will not return.  

3.     New mothers will always protect their young and this is important in the animal kingdom.  Whilst new piglets, calves, foals are all lovely to see, on no account should they be approached or should you find yourself in between them and their mother.  

4.     Abandoned fawns.  Anyone who watches Springwatch will know that on no account should you ever ever think that a fawn found on its own tucked up in the long grass is abandoned.  This natures way of drawing predators away from newborn animals and the only time the fawn will be in danger is if it is touched by human hands as it will then invariably be abandoned and will die.  Our other animals also behave in this way to a certain extent and so please do not touch fawns, calves, piglets or foals that may be found on their own.  By all means if you are concerned telephone the estate office to make us aware if you think there is a problem.

Other Access Opportunities There are many other ways that people can become involved with the estate or visit on specific days.

  1. Fishing There is an annual coarse fishing event on Springwood Pond to raise money for charity. 

  2. Shooting We have small wild game shoot but do occasionally need helpers (beaters) and anyone interested should phone the office (01403 741 235). 

  3. Events We host two of St Catherine’s Hospice main events on the estate to enable them to raise money for our local hospice.  We do not charge for these events and hope very much that they will be well attended so that the maximum revenue can be raised by the charity. 

  4. Riding Aside from the Trot route and the bridleways, the local hunt still trail hunt through the estate and always welcome new subscribers. 

  5. Volunteer Days The local Ranger Service (01403 864001 or organise many group visits to the estate to carry out restoration projects to ponds, hedges etc and always welcome new visitors.  The estate also organizes one or two big volunteer days a year where we try and encourage as many people as possible to come along and help slash and burn or do other projects in return for a delicious lunch.  We did this in 2009 and 2010 and both years had fantastic turnouts albeit surprisingly fewer locals than people from elsewhere.  We are concentrating the efforts of these volunteer days on the public Rights of Way network so that people who use these paths can enjoy the maintenance of them and see the fruits of their labour. 

For further information, please contact the estate office

This is a link to the HSE’s guidance note 

for further information please contact the 

Estate Office 

01403 741 235

NEW footpaths 

Permissive path map 

of the Knepp Castle Ruin 

to enlarge click map 

Permissive path map 

of the land around Dial Post 

to enlarge click map 

Permissive path map 

of the Village of Shipley 

to enlarge click map 

Permissive path map 

of the land around Penbridge Lane and Countryman Lane

to enlarge click map 

Educational tours we show hundreds of interested individuals and groups round the re wilding project

Volunteer days are a great way to get out into the countryside with a purpose - these volunteers planted what is one of the biggest riparian plantations in the country on Knepp

code logo

Click on the above logo to read more on the Countryside Code

Interested Groups come to see what the Knepp Re Wilding project is all about