Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest is in East Sussex.


Ashdown Forest covers 14,000 acres 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

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.


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


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 Nations 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

Friends Clump, Ashdown Forest, present in Winnie the Pooh

From London

From Kent/Medway Area:

By air

The nearest airport is at London Gatwick, which is a 25 minute drive away.

Get around

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 minutes.


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


Playing 'pooh sticks' at Pooh Sticks Bridge near Hartfield


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


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

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


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 both supermarkets and more specialist establishments.




Camping is not allowed inside Ashdown Forest, however there is one camping site in the local area

Bed and Breakfast

These establishments may vary in size from a small hotel to one or two rooms.



Stay safe

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. Please remember if you do not want to take your dog with you (paths can be muddy) to give an area of shade for your animal and keep the windows 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

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 10, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.