Thank you for visiting Bepton Down

Bepton Down SSSI is a unique area of chalk downland on The South Downs near the village of Bepton in West Sussex

Chalk grasslands have been likened to rainforests for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate and it is estimated that the UK has lost about 80% of its chalk grassland over the last 60 years.

Bepton Down is a jewel in the crown. The habitat is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the area is a nationally rare example of unimproved chalk grassland. The Down is home to a wide range of plants and animals including six species of Orchid including the Early Purple, Common Spotted, Greater Butterfly, Pyramidal, Common Twayblade, Bee Orchids and White Helleborines.


The Bepton Down Conservation Group was set up in 2015 to help protect this Site of Special Scientific Interest and to encourage people to visit Bepton Down and enjoy this unique area of chalk downland.

Latest from the Bepton Down Blog

    A view of the Downs at Bepton…. This is a peaceful scene with expectant ewes grazing in the fields …. Such scenes are deceptive and hide one of the commonest of problems encountered by Sheep Farmers throughout the U.K. This farmer hasn’t been spared either. The pandemic has brought more people out for walks and […]
  • Dogs running Riot
    OWNERSHIP OF CANINE COMPANIONS COMES WITH RESPONSIBILITY.   ALL DOG OWNERS SHOULD RECOGNISE THIS AND SHOULD ENSURE THAT THEIR DOGS ARE TRAINED. Due to Covid-19 many more people have been seen on Bepton Down.   The fact that more people are enjoying time outside is to be welcomed but people need to be mindful of the varying […]
  • The woeful state of Bepton Down
    Originally posted on Bepton Ranger: How complicated can it be to maintain an SSSI properly? Please read this blog and I’ll explain JUST HOW BAD the situation has become on Bepton Down – and why I believe that Cowdray Estate and Natural England are jointly responsible for the decline of one of Britain’s last remaining…
  • Winter Leisure for the Bepton Down Sussex Cattle
    The lovely Sussex Cattle which spent many months keeping most of tbe SSSI sward down (not the dogwood which they do not find to their liking)  are now spending quality time in the warm and dry.  They are ensconced with others from the Findon Park Herd with the Hodgkins at Linch in an airy barn […]
  • Summing Up for 2018
    Although 2018 has been positive in many respects it appears to be drawing to a close on a negative note. Matthew Dowse our SDNP Ranger for this area left for sunny Spain and has been replaced by Kate Dziubinska.  I hope to meet her soon and to find out what plans are afoot for the […]
  • The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer
    Never has the sun beaten down so strongly upon Bepton Down as during the late spring and summer of 2018. After a very wet and fairly cold winter spring brought welcome relief and lovely warm days.  This set Bepton Down on quick recovery from a very slow start.  A deluge of rain occurred on the […]
  • Spring is in the air
    I went for a superb walk on the Downs this morning.   The climb up Cardiac Hill yielded three fallow does and although the weather was damp and misty at the top I was glad to be there.  I then made my way to the old woodsman’s cottage now in ruins but where there are carpets […]
  • Scrub Clearance
      Things are finally happening on Bepton Down SSSI. In late 2017 following a complete and thorough cut of most of the scrub on all three sections, all the dead vegetation was removed. Then our local sheep farmer, Andrew Hodgkins, put nine teaser rams on the two main areas of the site where they should […]
  • The decline of Bepton Down SSSI
    Bepton Down SSSI (part of the Site from Treyford to Bepton Down) A lesson in:   How not to look after valuable chalk grassland. Only 5% of chalk grassland remains in England and only 3% of the South Downs now qualify as such. If one thinks this should ensure that Bepton Down is well-maintained under the […]
  • Robin’s Pincushion
        One of the undesirable plants on Bepton Down is showing odd features! The Dog Rose is one of the thorny invasive plants which, although attractive enough in its own right, is a menace on a SSSI chalk downland.  If left to do its own thing it quickly grows tall and woody becoming difficult […]

5 thoughts on “Thank you for visiting Bepton Down

  1. Does anyone remember the helicopter that crashed on Bepton Down in the mid 1960s ? I was a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School at the time and went to see the crashed remains up there on the hillside a couple of days after it happened but now I can find almost nothing on the internet about it at all.


    1. I was looking at the history of the accident and found your article. My father was one of the crew who was killed in the accident. His name was R.W.G. Peck and was based at Tangmere with 22 Squadron Search and Rescue. I know very little of the details except for the official causes for the accident.


      1. Mr Peck. I have only just found your reply and am so sorry not to have found it and replied earlier. My sincere condolences for your loss, the sudden loss of ones Dad leaves a gap in one’s heart even 55 years later – as I know from my own experience. I have contacted the management of this site and asked them to pass on my email address and phone number to you so that we can discuss it directly. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Richard Stephenson


    1. I was a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School in my teens, from 1962 to 1967 and this would have been about half way through my time there. We had heard about the crash and as soon as we could (which would probably have been the following Saturday or Sunday) another boy and myself walked out to Bepton to see it (I was a keen walker then, as I still am now and had walked to Bepton Down before to relieve the boredom of the weekends).

      The crashed machine was somewhere way up on the Down. When we found it it was being guarded by three RAF personell who were camped nearby but they did not stop us from inspecting the wreck or take much notice of us at all. The helicopter was bright yellow – I assumed at the time that this meant it was an Air-sea Rescue helicopter but that may or may not be correct. If I remember rightly it was more or less upright but very badly smashed up from the crash.

      I recently drove through Bepton and my curiosity was stirred about the crash. I tried to search for it on the internet but after much effort the only thing I could find relating to it was this: ….. Scroll down to the date 03/07/1964.
      I cannot find any public reference to it anywhere else !

      The only other lead I can think of is to ask around the MGS Old Boys network if anyone else remembers it. I think I know who the other boy who walked there with me was but I’m not certain.

      I would be very interested to hear of anything else about it.


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