Sussex walk around Duddleswell in Ashdown Forest

PUBLISHED: 10:02 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:14 20 March 2018

Views towards the South Downs over the vast heathland of Ashdown Forest

Views towards the South Downs over the vast heathland of Ashdown Forest

Hazel Sillver

Hazel Sillver soaks up the rugged beauty of Ashdown Forest on this short heathland circular

The Airman’s Grave

Despite its name, the Airman’s Grave in the heart of Ashdown Forest is not a burial site. Rather it is a memorial dedicated to six young RAF servicemen, who died on this spot when their Wellington bomber came down during World War II. They were part of a squadron returning from a raid on Cologne. Because of stormy weather, the plane suffered engine problems, and on 31 July 1941 it crashed here, killing the entire crew who were aged 21 to 27. The mother of 2nd pilot Victor Ronald Sutton erected the original cross memorial. Every year on Remembrance Sunday a service is held here, often attracting hundreds of people. A minute’s silence is held, the Ashdown Forest Rangers lay a wreath, and a biplane flies overhead and scatters poppy petals. 

Where to refuel

Duddleswell Tea Rooms is opposite the car park and welcomes dogs. Enjoy light lunches and delicious cream teas at this local institution, which has been serving tea and cake since 1936. If Duddleswell is full and you’re craving cake, head a quarter-mile north to the café at Ashdown Forest Garden Centre, which has a children’s play area. For a pub lunch, head a mile south to the dog-friendly Foresters Arms at Fairwarp; or drive three-and-a-half miles to the excellent Hatch Inn, which welcomes dogs, and offers a tasty menu with vegetarian options. To find the Hatch, head north on the B2026, then take a left, following the sign for Coleman’s Hatch. The pub is on the left before the junction.


• Location: Duddleswell, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex.

• Distance: two miles – an hour to walk.

• Terrain: some gentle up and down; paths are uneven and can be muddy.

• Where to park: In the Duddleswell car park on the western side of the B2026, just south of Duddleswell Tea Rooms (TN22 3BH). Or you could park over the road at Duddleswell Tea Rooms, if you intend to eat there afterwards. 

The walk

1. From the car park, go through the gate and head left. Cross the lane and continue straight ahead. Then take the narrow path on your right, which leads past silver birch trees. You soon reach another path – turn left here, walking between gorse bushes.

2. Maintain direction past houses, briefly walking along a stretch of lane, before the path leads straight on back into heathland.

3. At the crossways, by the oak tree, maintain direction straight ahead, and then take the next path right. The way soon divides – continue straight ahead on the wide path through woodland.

4. At the bottom of the slope, go over the first footbridge, and turn right. Walk up the slope, on the wide path which leads to the Airman’s Grave.

5. Before the car park and the road, turn right onto a wide grassy path. Almost immediately turn right again, taking the narrow path that leads between gorse bushes, past a silver birch tree. The path eventually brings you out onto open heathland; maintain direction straight ahead.

6. The way veers left and joins another path, which takes you downhill.

7. Where the path divides, maintain direction towards a house.

8. Just before the house, veer left on the main path through trees. Then turn left onto the lane, before very soon walking diagonally left towards the car park.


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