Sussex walk around the Great Wood near Battle
PUBLISHED: 16:58 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:58 09 January 2017
When its conifers are clad in silver frost, Great Wood near Battle is a sight to behold, writes Hazel Sillver
This small town in the midst of the Weald was the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Battle Abbey, whose gateway dominates the southern end of the town, was built in 1096 to commemorate the battle. Most of what remains of the abbey today is occupied by Battle Abbey School. Over time, the town grew up around the abbey, and became known for its surrounding woodlands, which provided timber (including oak) for shipbuilding, and fuel for producing top quality gunpowder in the local area. Daniel Defoe remarked that: “Battle is remarkable for little, but making the finest gunpowder – perhaps the best in Europe.” The remains of the gunpowder works on Powdermill Lane have been converted into a hotel.
This 186-hectare Forestry Commission wood, which lies on the eastern outskirts of Battle, is a mixture of deciduous and conifer trees, making it a great walking spot during the colder months. In October and November it is a fiery spectacle of autumn tints and in frost or snow it becomes a winter wonderland. Amongst the resident wildlife are deer, nightjars, tree pipits, and crossbills.
Where to refuel
• The Chequers Inn pub is situated close to Great Wood, at the top of Marley Lane, and offers a menu of interesting dishes, with vegetarian options. To find it, turn left out of the car park and drive along Marley Lane. Turn left at the roundabout, and then immediately right into the pub car park.
• Location: Great Wood, near Battle, East Sussex
• Distance: 3.3m (5.3k) – an hour to walk.
• Terrain: woodland paths (which can be muddy), and some gentle slopes.
• Where to park: In the Forestry Commission car park on Marley Lane, east of Battle.
1. Head into the woods from the car park, following the wide path.
2. After the ditch bridge, the way divides. Head left on the wide path. After a short stretch, take the signed narrow footpath that dives into woodland on your right.
3. The path runs close to a field. Upon meeting the wide path, head right. Ignore small paths that lead off this main forest track.
4. Head left on a wide forest track through pine trees. Ignore the path that immediately heads right. Eventually the path heads down slope and curves right.
5. At the bench several paths meet – maintain direction straight ahead.
6. Where the way divides, maintain direction on the left hand path.
7. A path joins from the left. Maintain direction straight on. Then – just before the woodland edge – follow the main path, which curves around to the right.
8. Turn right, walking along the wide straight forest track between tall pine trees.
9. A path joins from the left. Maintain direction. Then a path joins from the right – again, maintain direction straight on.
10. At the crossways, maintain direction straight ahead.
11. The path curves around to the right and brings you to a meeting of several paths. Head left here, retracing your steps back to the car.