• Start: Ashdown Forest
  • End: Ashdown Forest
  • Country: England
  • County: EastSussex
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Red Lion ( is welcoming: drive north on the A22 and turn left onto the A275. Pub is ¾m on the left.
  • Ordnance Survey: NULL
  • Difficulty: Medium
Google Map


For this month's walk, Hazel Sillver and four-legged friend explore the hidden gardens of Chelwood Vachery and stride over the Ashdown heathland, which is at its best on an autumn morning, glowing amber and pink in the mist

This walk starts at the Long Car Park in Ashdown Forest, near Forest Row, which has two entrances and is mile south of Wych Cross on the A22.

1 From the south end of the car park, follow the wide grassy path that heads south alongside the A22.

2 After about 150m, turn right onto another wide path. The way forks head left, passing pine trees on your right.

3 The path gently descends and then forks again. Take the left path, which leads gradually uphill over heathland.

4 Cross over a tarmac drive to a second drive. Here turn right, walking along the drive for about 300m.

5 Just before you reach some houses, there are two paths the first heads back north-east; take the second, which heads south. The track gently leads downhill through trees and eventually bears right.

6 After about 500m, go through a wooden gate on your right and head downhill through more woodland, towards the Chelwood Vachery Forest Garden. As you reach the ponds and streams of the garden, follow the path alongside the water, heading upstream.

7 After about 300m, you reach the Folly Bridge. Pass beneath it, through the arch and cross the stream via the stepping stones or the tiny footbridge to the right. Walk uphill for about 500m.

8 At the crossways take the right hand path over heath.

9 After 200m or so, take the narrow path that leads steeply downhill. Enjoy Braberry Ponds at the bottom and then head left, following the path alongside the water, towards a bridge.

10 Cross over the bridge and walk uphill to meet another path. Follow the main path right, which eventually climbs steeply uphill over heathland.

11 About 50m before the crest of the hill, take the path that leads diagonally off to the right. Stay on this main path, which gradually widens. Where the path forks, take the left hand route.

12 After 500m you will pass pine trees on your right. Rejoin the wide path that runs alongside the A22, back to the car park.


Ashdown Forest

Ashdown is an area of ancient heathland in the middle of the Sussex Weald. It was used as a hunting ground in Norman times and is still home to many fallow deer. Two thirds of its 6,500 acres are heathland and the rest is woodland. Of course the most famous bit is 100 Aker Wood, where Pooh Bear lives. If youre a Pooh fan, you can visit the Poohsticks Bridge and the Enchanted Place (see for a map)but beware the Heffalump Trap.

Chelwood Vachery Forest Garden

These hidden woodland gardens were created in 1905 by the banker and MP Sir Stuart Samuel (who also built the large house of Chelwood Vachery). Its thought that the word Vachery comes from the French for cow (vache) since cattle used to be sent into the forests here during the 14th century. The garden contains four lakes and ponds, each with its own weir, exotic plants, such as rhododendron, amelanchier, acer and magnolia, and two follies: a bridge and a man-made gorge.

For a pub lunch

The Red Lion ( is welcoming: drive north on the A22 and turn left onto the A275. Pub is m on the left.

For more autumn colour

Sheffield Park Garden ( is one of the best places in the UK to see autumn leaf colour. Its a 10 min drive. Turn left, heading north on the A22. Then turn left onto the A275. The garden entrance is on the left, after Trading Boundaries.

For a cream tea

Duddleswell Tea Rooms ( is a 10min car ride: head south on the A22, turn left onto Crowborough Road and then right onto the B2026. Tearoom is 800m on your left.

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