Ashdown Forest in Autumn: Pooh, a View, and a Brew with the Crew (Take Two)

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Lowland and Hill Walks
Oct 09

20 people attending

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Event booking closes on Oct 9 at 09:00:00
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Distance is 23.5 km (14.5 miles); total ascent is 531 m; terrain has a number of ascents and descent including two substantial ones; surfaces are dirt, grass, gravel and tarmac.

Another attempt at a walk abandoned on September 11 because of severe train disruption.

"What day is it?”, asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh.

Our OutdoorLads crew should finally get to proceed in the pawprints of Pooh and Piglet on this good long hike deep into Ashdown Forest. Here, in the largest area of uncultivated land in southeast England, we'll enjoy a varied and substantial walk through farmland, heathland and woodland and also drop into and pass through the pretty village of Hartfield for a sumptuous cream tea or tea and cake nearby. And on the topic of food and drink, lunch will be a picnic at the highest elevation on the walk: Gills Lap, 204 metres up, a vantage point that affords a stunning vista of the High Weald. We'll see lots of Pooh places and play Poohsticks at Pooh Bridge.

"Any day spent with you is my favourite day. So today is my new favourite day," decided Pooh.

The sights:

Ashdown Forest: A mixture of open heath and oak and birch woodland, with valley bogs, all giving a rich biodiversity. Ashdown Forest was established by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in 1372 and lasted for nearly 300 years as a royal hunting forest, known as 'Lancaster's Great Park'. After the Restoration in 1660, Charles II gave large parts of the forest to his supporters, but much of it remained for Commoners as a place to gather wood and allow pigs and cattle to graze. Locals made a living by leading travellers across its myriad mires and hard-bitten heaths, avoiding assailants. Place names containing 'Hatch' or 'Gate' indicate openings to the forest.

Hartfield: The main village street with a lot of white weatherboarding is pleasant, if without any remarkable buildings. St Mary's Church is C14/C15 and has an elegant tower and steeple.

Withyham: St Michael's Church was rebuilt in the C17 following a fire and contains a fine set of baroque monuments to the Sackville/De La Warr Family. 

Winnie-the-Pooh links: We'll walk around the edge of Five Hundred Acre Wood - the Hundred Aker Wood of the stories, see the Heffalump Trap, Roo's Sandy Place, the 'North Pole', Eeyore's Sad and Gloomy Place and the Enchanted Place. We'll also pass close to Cotchford Farm where AA Milne and his son Christopher Robin lived (and where Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones drowned). We'll cross Pooh Bridge where Pooh and Christopher Robin played Poohsticks, and have lunch at the memorial to AA Milne and EH Shephard at Gills Lap (Galleons Lap), 204m up.

The route (please click the link in red to see the route, its distance and elevations, at the OS website):

The Weald Way along the River Medway and a country lane will mostly take us south to Balls Green where we'll get to the B2110 to go to Withyham, continuing on the Weald Way, we'll skirt Five Hundred Acre Wood. The Weald Way will then take us south to the middle of the Forest. Then, turning north, the Vanguard Way will bring us to Gills Lap and the AA Milne memorial for lunch. A footpath to Chuck Hatch and beyond, across Poohsticks Bridge will bring us to Gallipot Hill Farm. Walking on the pavement along the B2110 will bring us to Newton's Hill and Hartfield for tea. Footpaths heading east past the church and along the Forest Way. Almost at Balls Green again we'll use footpaths heading north and west past Bolebrook Farm to go to have tea and cake. Footpaths and a lane heading north and west will take us past Lodgefield Farm and back to Ashurst.


I love having dogs on my walks and this walk is somewhat suitable apart from during very hot weather. It is very long, though. There will be plenty of shade and woods and commons for them to run free but also some roads to walk along. A dog off the lead must be obedient.

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(Picture credits: All pictures taken by the leader in September 2021. OutdoorLads is welcome to reuse them.)


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