Sussex walk around Pooh Bear country
PUBLISHED: 11:50 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 21 November 2017
Hazel Sillver prepares for an expedition and keeps her eyes peeled for Heffalumps on this circular stroll through Pooh Bear country
This gorgeous expanse of heathland sits atop a sandy ridge in the High Weald. It is a picture when dressed in its autumn colours, and provides a vital habitat for wildlife, including fallow, muntjac, sika, and roe deer. Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman remains have been found here; the forest was a medieval hunting ground, before being used to keep livestock and cut heather. In the 17th century the area was divided into private and common areas, the latter of which remains open access land, and encompasses 2,500 hectares. Most famously, Ashdown Forest is Pooh Bear country, and this walk passes some of the books’ legendary places, including the Heffalump Trap!
The Hundred Acre Wood
This fantastical forest, which features in AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books, is based on the real Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest, which we pass through on this walk. AA Milne’s home in Hartfield was just north of this dense woodland, and in his books Christopher Robin has many adventures here. Owl’s house – a large chestnut tree – was situated in the Hundred Acre Wood. Today the real life woodland is a mix of deciduous (predominantly beech and birch) and pine trees; much of it is privately owned, but it is possible to enjoy the woodland on the Wealdway public footpath, which cuts through part of it.
• Location: Ashdown Forest, near Hartfield, East Sussex
• Distance: Four and a half miles (seven and a half kilometres) – two hours to walk.
• Terrain: gentle up and down; sand and woodland paths (which can be muddy); a short road section.
• Where to park: In the Gill’s Lap car park at the Kidd’s Hill and Chuck Hatch Road (B2026) junction.
Where to refuel
1. Head out of the car park entrance, across the road, and onto the path that soon leads between gorse and onto a wide expanse of heathland. Ignore paths leading off to the left and right, and maintain direction.
2. Where the way divides, take the left-hand path.
3. At the corner, where the way divides, head left. Stay on this wide path through the heathland for half a mile. Ignore the path that crosses at the tree line, and maintain direction. The path eventually leads downhill.
4. Take the path right opposite houses. This route leads you into the Hundred Acre Wood.
5. At the post marked WW under beech trees, head left. The path meanders through the woods.
6. After the gate, the way divides. Bear left, following the yellow arrow marked WW. Keep following the yellow arrows on the wide path that soon leads past pine and birch trees.
7. At the metal bar gate head left. The path leads downhill alongside a field, and then through woodland.
8. Go over the footbridge, then continue straight on uphill, before turning right and putting dogs on leads because the road is close. At the road cross over and head left, walking along the road. Soon – at the end of the hedge on your right – turn right, and go over the stile.
9. Head right, looping around the horse paddock, following the fencing. Go over the stile in the far right-hand corner of the paddock. Follow the arrow that leads past fields. Then at the signpost, follow the yellow arrow left – the path leads between paddocks, past birch trees.
10. Go over the stile into woodland. Upon meeting the main hard track, head left. Anybody who fancies a game of Poohsticks should detour right here to find Poohsticks Bridge.
11. Veer right just before the car park. Put dogs on leads because this sandy path soon leads you over a road. Continue on the other side past oak trees. Eventually the path curves around to the left and leads up onto heathland.
12. Maintain direction where the way divides close to the car park, staying on the wide heathland track for half a mile.
13. On hitting another path, head left uphill.
14. On meeting the higher path, head right. This is the site of Pooh’s Heffalump Trap.
15. The path leads past woodland on your right, then at the crossways head left uphill. Finally at the bench head right, back to the car.
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