Our latest visit to the Knepp Estate was with family and friends, hoping to see any remaining storks and perhaps see pigs and cattle, or even deer. It was August Bank Holiday Saturday.
There were no storks to be seen. A notice informed us that the adults would winter on the estate and the youngsters would fly off to North Africa, and I had read elsewhere that a common destination for young storks is Morocco. All we could see was the giant nest, maybe a metre across, in the top of an oak tree.
Walking on for another quarter of an hour we heard some grunting and just through a gateway we could see four pigs – a mother (sow) and four very large piglets very keen to have a feed from the mother. Very soon the mother obliged by lying on her side and allowing the piglets to suckle.
My father had about a hundred pigs and as a boy it was my Saturday job to clean out the pig sties, so I am quite familiar with these charming animals. I can say that farmed pigs would never be feeding from their mothers when they were as mature as these youngster obviously were so it is interesting to see how these animals behave “in the wild”. In my day piglets were usually weened at eight weeks.
The other thing that struck me was the smallness of the family. Litters of farmed pigs are often of a dozen piglets and and can be as large as sixteen or even one or two more than this.
Seeing only three surviving piglets suggests that nature may not be the most effective at looking after animals as compared with farmers.
The free ranging animals on the Knepp Estate are not wasted or left to die of disease or old age. You can buy Knepp sausages, steaks and burgers from the free-roaming, pasture-fed, organic cattle, pigs, and red and fallow deer. Meat can be bought via the Knepp Wild Range Meat website with click and collect, or orders can be couriered to mainland UK.
Address: Knepp Castle, Horsham RH13 8LJ
Phone: 01403 741235
Access is free
There are 16 miles of public and permissive footpaths, and five viewing platforms built up in the trees.
Access is via the car park. There is a charge £5 per day for the car park but you may be able to park nearby. The car park is situated at Knepp Campsite, New Barn Farm, Swallows Lane, Dial Post, RH13 8NN UK.
There are no café or restaurant facilities.
However there are two excellent pubs nearby providing food expertly prepared and sourced from local growers. See below.
Nearby pubs for food
The Crown Inn at Dial Post, and The Countryman at Shipley.
The Countryman Inn,
Phone 01403 741383
Worthing Road Dial Post
Horsham West Sussex RH13 8NH
Phone 01403 710902
Wilding – the book about the project
There is a popular book about how a huge increase in varieties of plants and living creatures was achieved here on the Knepp Estate. Julie has read it and strongly recommends it. Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree. Amazon links below.
The estate has four websites and you can start by accessing this one Knepp Estate Website