Ashdown Forest Walk – May 2016
by Les Campbell
With beautiful views across the Sussex Weald to the distant North Downs and golden gorse bushes adorning your way, this lovely three and a half mile walk around the Ashdown Forest is perfect for a warm May day.
This 3.5 mile walk starts and finishes from the car park at the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre which is situated opposite the Ashdown Forest Hotel on the Coleman’s Hatch Road approximately one mile east of the Wych Cross traffic lights on the A22. For satnav enthusiasts the postcode is RH18 5JP! It initially follows a wide forest track affording superb views across the Sussex Weald to the distant North Downs. There is a short section across the Forest Row Golf Course which is marked on the Ordnance Survey map as a right of way (and is also Access Land) but is a little tricky to navigate as the route isn’t signed or waymarked. A compass might come in handy on this section of the walk! I would mention that much of Ashdown Forest has been dedicated as Access Land so you can wander at will unchallenged.
From the back of the car park adjoining the centre, bear right and follow the wide forest track along a ridge running parallel with the road. Ignore all turnings off to your left and right. The track drops downhill slightly and enters woodland. On reaching a crossing track close to a car park, turn left and then right on to the open forest again still with extensive views northwards. On reaching an unsurfaced drive turn left, and walk downhill to a lone house marked on the map as The Birches.
At The Birches, strike out across the fairway in a north-westerly direction (this is where a compass reading will be useful!) until the buildings of Water Farm appear in the trees to your right. Once across the fairway, pick up a narrow rather overgrown path by a sign regarding grazing rights with Water Farm to your right. The path drops downhill to cross a small stream via stepping stones. Climb steeply uphill beside Foxbury Wood. On reaching a gravel drive by an open area, carry on ahead on this drive where a sign indicates 150 yards to the 14th tee. Just before reaching a dwelling veer left off the drive and pick up a narrow and slightly indistinct path through woodland which drops downhill to cross a stream on a small footbridge then follow the path uphill to Bank Cottage and the golf course.
Turn left at Bank Cottage, and take the obvious path ahead initially alongside woodland, soon to enter Broadstone Warren. Follow the slightly meandering path for about a mile through Broadstone Warren ignoring all turnings off to your left and right. After about ¾ mile, a signpost directs you left to join the drive to Broadstone Farm.
Turn right up the drive to join the Coleman’s Hatch Road opposite the Ashdown Park Hotel. Turn left alongside the road on a raised footway to the Visitor Centre and car park.
NB: The Ashdown Forest Centre is a useful information point for both residents and visitors. There is usually an interesting exhibition to be viewed. The centre has seasonal opening times so best to check the website to be sure that it is open when you plan to do the walk .
Distance: 3.5 miles
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map N0. 122/OL11
Parking: Car Park (free) next to the Ashdown Forest Centre on the Coleman’s Hatch Road
Refreshments: Pubs and cafés in Forest Row
Public Transport: Metro Bus route 270 from East Grinstead or Burgess Hill / Haywards Heath stops at the Roebuck Hotel (one mile from start of the walk)