University lecturer explores Kingley Vale with Countryfile

THE mystery of Kingley Vale in West Sussex – and its history of fighting Nazi and Viking invaders – has been unearthed by a University of Chichester lecturer for a new BBC podcast.

Poet Hugh Dunkerley leads an exploration into the nature reserve for the Countryfile Magazine podcast.

The Professor of Literature and Environment – guides listeners through the picturesque spot in the South Downs with Steve Walker of Natural England. They discuss the beauty and fragility of the famed Yew trees, the “history and mystery” of Kingley Vale.

Commenting on the tranquillity of the area, Hugh said: “it feels like time is standing still.”

While the valley is known for the Yew trees, there is a mix of habitats that leads to an abundance of life. Steve notes the distinct smell of wild thyme and marjoram as they walk through the valley.

The University lecturer is known for his award-winning poetry and short fiction and his fight for sustainability. Many of his poems take inspiration from the environment and his passion continues through his teaching.

Hugh promotes sustainability in the curriculum and encourages his students to engage with issues of environment and social and economic sustainability through their learning.

Kingley Vale provided inspiration for Hugh’s poem, ‘The Tranquillity Maps’. The poem captures the beauty and serenity of the valley, noting its distance from noise pollution and disturbance. He tells how the imagined tranquillity maps: “describe the contours of light, the seedhead’s vocabulary, mathematics of stillness and the geography of leaves”.

His acclaimed debut ‘Hare’ was followed by his next poetry collection ‘Kin’. The Poetry Book Society described Kin as an extension of Hugh’s: “finely tuned observation and seamless vision of how human relations are as visceral as anything in nature”.

Listen to Dr Dunkerley speak on the BBC podcast at

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