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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > South East England > East Sussex > Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest

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Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest is in East Sussex.

Understand[edit]

Ashdown Forest covers 14,000 acres (5,700 hectares) of lowland heathland which has never been under the plough and so provides a unique habitat for many species of flora and fauna. The whole area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (OANB).

Flora and fauna[edit]

There are several hundred deer, mainly Roe and Fallow and including small numbers of Muntjac and Sika, living happily in the woodland areas. Nightjar and Stonechat, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, Dartford Warbler and Woodcock are among the birds which enjoy the gorse and heather habitat. Many rare species of butterfly, moth and dragonfly are also to be seen, as are adders and a small number of grass snakes.

Climate[edit]

Summer is the warmest time and best for walking, cycling, etc.; winter months can be cold and a little damp. It is advisable to take a light coat if the weather looks a bit iffy, just to keep you dry if anything; when the wind blows it can get quite cold on the ridges, however most of the valleys and copses provide enough shelter

History[edit]

Man has lived and worked in Ashdown Forest for 5,000 years, with iron-working during the Roman Period and Saxon Farming, however the forest took on its role as an area of enjoyment in the 11th century, when it was set up as a hunting ground for the Crown (remnants of this can still be seen) and used for rabbit farming (many localities are known as 'Warren's' - indicating their past usage). Ashdown Forest has, throughout history had an important part in the nation's economy, in 1496 French ironmasters were employed to operate the first water powered blast furnace in Britain, at Newbridge near Coleman’s Hatch and in 1505 a water powered steel forge was established at Pippingford. However by the 18th century most iron-working had stopped.

Get in[edit]

Friends Clump, Ashdown Forest, present in Winnie the Pooh

From London[edit]

  • Car — the A22 to Eastbourne passes right through Ashdown Forest, linking East Grinstead, Uckfield and Nutley to London.
  • Train — 1/2 hourly service from London Victoria to East Grinstead and hourly service from London Bridge to Crowborough and Uckfield (the line diverges at Oxted); £24 return to East Grinstead and £18.50. return to Uckfield (Sept 2017).
  • Bus — National Express runs services to East Grinstead, Uckfield and onto Eastbourne

From Kent/Medway Area:

  • Car — the A26 from Maidstone to Newhaven passes through Tunbrdige Wells, Crowborough and Uckfield, there are other routes
  • Train — services to Tunbrdidge Wells
  • Bus — numerous routes from Tunbridge Wells

By air[edit]

The nearest airport is at 1 London Gatwick (LGW IATA), which is a 25 minute drive away.

Get around[edit]

Map of Ashdown Forest

Roads allow full access to all attractions in Ashdown Forest, although it is worth getting a map (AA or RAC for driving) if you are planning to go walking, horse riding or cycling (cycling is very limited on Ashdown Forest land to the few public bridleways, although there are several groups petitioning for more open access for off road cycling) however is fully allowed on roads; it is worth getting an OS (Ordnance Survey) map; Royal Tunbridge Wells, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath & Crowborough. Scale 1:25,000 (4 cm:1 km, 2½ in:1 mi) would be fine, costing usually under £8.00

As for public transport it is fairly limited, buses go from East Grinstead to Uckfield, East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells and beyond. From Uckfield there are regular buses to Tunbridge Wells, via Crowborough. Uckfield, Crowborough, Tunbridge Wells and East Grinstead all have routes to London (as do smaller stations, ask at the desk) journeys vary from 1hr 20–50 min.

See[edit]

Bridge Cottage, Uckfield

The area in and around Ashdown Forest is rich in the diversity of places to visit, from East Grinstead in the north to Uckfield in the south, Crowborough in the east and Haywards Heath in the west, and the whole of Ashdown Forest itself in between. The four towns themselves, although very different in character, each offers a wide range of shopping, cafes, restaurants and pubs, and each has a leisure centre with swimming pool.

Just off the A22 are two of the foremost attractions of the area - the Ashdown Forest Centre, where you can learn everything about the Forest, and the Ashdown Forest Llama Park. The A275, which forks off the A22 just south of Wych Cross, will take you to three more treats – Heaven Farm, with its farm museum, craft shop and tearoom, Sheffield Park Garden (National Trust) and the Bluebell Railway.

To the north, in East Grinstead, with fast links to London and just outside the town, Standen, an Arts and Crafts house by Philip Webb, owned by the National Trust.

On the east side of the area, just off the A26, is Barnsgate Manor Vineyard with its tearoom and restaurant, its giftshop selling Barnsgate wines and its magnificent views. A little farther south, off the A272, is Wilderness Wood, a working woodland with fascinating walks, picnic and barbecue areas and a teashop. Along with wood ‘workshops’ in the looking after of the forest. It is open most days.

Just beyond the Forest boundary, in the north east of the forest, is Groombridge Place Gardens and the Enchanted Forest. A few miles away, on the outskirts of the village of Hartfield, is Bolebroke Castle.

Ashdown Forest is part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this area extending from Horsham (in the West) to Rye in the East caries with it outstanding countryside, beautiful buildings and an interesting past. There are 31 United Kingdom Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Pooh Bear One of the Forest's more famous inhabitants, Christopher Milne wrote that "Pooh's Forest and Ashdown Forest are identical". many of the sites described in the stories can be recognised on the Forest although their names have been altered. For example, the Five Hundred Acre Wood became the 100 Aker Wood and Gills Lap became Galleons Leap. The North Pole and the Gloomy Place are in Wrens Warren Valley while the name, Enchanted Place, is applied to a memorial to Milne and Shepard. Hartfield is 'Pooh Central' with walks and other ativities centred around Pooh Bear.

Unusual places[edit]

  • Airman’s Grave (west of Duddleswell). A memorial to six of the crew who died when their bomber crashed here on its return from a raid on Cologne in 1941.
  • Greenwich Meridian. Traverses the Ashdown Forest area from the east side of East Grinstead through the Weir Wood reservoir and the western side of the Forest, then almost down the center of the village of Danehill.
  • Hanging Tree (at the foot of Wall Hill in Forest Row). Brothers John and William Beatson were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged here at the spot where their crime was committed. Their hangings were the last hangings of highwaymen, and one of the last public hangings in England.
  • Nutley Windmill (just north of the Nutley to Duddleswell road). Open April–October on the last Sunday of each month and Bank Holiday Sundays and Mondays. One of the best preserved of the surviving windmills in Sussex, it is over 300 years old. Nutley mill has been restored to full working order and is managed by the Uckfield and District Preservation Society. Organic flour is on sale there, ground by the mill.
  • Old Radio Station (near Duddleswell crossroads). A communications station built by the Canadians during World War II. Later it was refit to become a nuclear fallout shelter.
  • Two lengths of Roman Road can be seen crossing Ashdown Forest. One can be seen at Roman Road car park; the other is between Coleman’s Hatch and Wych Cross.

Do[edit]

Playing 'pooh sticks' at Pooh Sticks Bridge near Hartfield
  • The forest way. A 10 km (6.2 mi) cycle route through beautiful countryside.
  • Walking. Get a map and go for walk! Some beautiful landscapes accessible from all the main roads; at larger car parks there's usually an ice cream van there for the kids (even in mid winter). A Forest Map and Guide can be obtained from the Visitor Centre for £2.50 whilst several walking routes can be downloaded from the Tourist Information website for the Forest. Walking trails are rarely signposted on the forest, however on the forest way (above) there are some signed paths.
  • Play 'pooh sticks' at Poohsticks Bridge, just like Christopher Robin in A.A. Milne's famous Winnie the Pooh stories. Park at Pooh car park and its a good downhill stroll along a signposted path.
  • Ashdown Forest Llama Park (on the A22 between Forest Row and Nutley.). Llots of llamas to llook at.
  • Local Churches. Often very interesting with varied histories; can be incorporated into a walk or a drive.

Buy[edit]

Anything required can be purchased in one of the larger towns and petrol stations are sprinkled around.

  • Hartfield. Is 'Pooh' Central, from where Pooh bear was set, you can play pooh sticks on the bridge or visit 100 acre wood. There are also numerous shops.
  • All the towns have at least a supermarket and many of the villages have a small shop/Post office. If one requires something specific the towns of Tunbrdige Wells and East Grinstead will suffice.
  • Rock climbing and walking (outdoor activities), Bowles, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, +44 7793355948. half day for full day. Experience rock climbing in the Ashdown forest and other local venues such as Harrisons rocks and Bowles. Courses are tailored to suit your needs and are suitable for all levels of experience. £70.

Eat[edit]

You need not travel far within the Ashdown Forest area to find excellent provision for the hungry, the thirsty and the merely peckish. Everything from the humble pint in a friendly local pub to fine cuisine in a world class restaurant can be found in Ashdown forest. Restaurants are often attached to pubs, with separate areas; food varies in quality and price, but is rarely of poor quality.

Tea rooms[edit]

Tea rooms are an English tradition; expect high quality food and friendly staff:

Markets[edit]

If eating out isn't what you want but you still want to get a flavour of the area, visit local farm shops and farmers markets:

Towns such as Crowborough, Uckfield, East Grinstead and Forest Row have supermarkets and more specialist establishments.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Some paths may be muddy in the winter; in the summer there are some snakes (adders are the only poisonous ones, however rarely attack humans, dogs can be killed by Adder Venom)

Often there are deep pools, which can be nice to swim in (from this area's idilic industrial past), but children should always be accompanied, monsters from the deep are rare.

Car parks are generally free of crime, however it is always important as with any car park to ensure that valuables are hidden out of site or taken with you. If you do not want to take your dog with you (paths can be muddy), give an area of shade for your animal, leave drinking water for the dog, and keep the windows well open. Dogs die in hot cars.

Some paths may lead abruptly onto (often fast) roads; for your children's and pets' safety keep listening out for cars and if in any doubt keep more adventurous animals on a lead.

In the summer months the whole forest is at risk from wildfires, please do not smoke (for your own health and the forest's) and Do not light fires.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Ashdown Forest
LondonEast Grinstead  N UK road A22.svg S  UckfieldEastbourne



This park travel guide to Ashdown Forest is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.