Take a Sussex stroll around Ashdown Forest
PUBLISHED: 10:01 22 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:01 22 April 2014
Poohsticks Bridge, 4.5 m (7.2k) - This circular walk at Ashdown Forest includes heathland, bluebell woods, fields and two Poohsticks bridges
Location: Ashdown Forest, near Hartfield, East Sussex
Distance: 4½ m (7.2k) – 2 hrs to walk.
Terrain: A little up and down, but nothing taxing.
Where to park: In the Wren’s Warren car park. Head south from Hartfield on the B2026 for 2 miles. The car park is about ½ mile on the right after the turning for Newbridge. There is a silver birch tree at the car park entrance, which is almost opposite a private drive.
1 – Head southwest out of Wren’s Warren car park. Take the wide path that heads southwest across open heathland.
2 - Here turn right and walk downhill towards woodland.
3 – The path runs along the edge of woodland, past silver birch trees. Eventually the way divides - head left into woodland.
4 – Walk through the trees to a crossing of paths. Here turn right, continuing to walk through woodland, past bluebells.
5 – The path will end at a road. Here turn right, walking along the edge of the road. You will pass houses and a ford. Continue to walk along the road, uphill.
6 – ¼ mile after the ford, take the footpath on the right (marked with a wooden sign and yellow arrow). This leads sharply back downhill through a grassy area, between young trees and a hedge. You will come to some houses. Go through the gate, over the bridge and turn left. Walk behind gardens to a footbridge. Go over the stile, into the paddock. Turn left, walking around the edge of the field. There is a stream halfway along, if dogs want a drink. Go through the gate and maintain direction straight ahead, crossing two fields. Go over the stile into another field (which usually contains horses); walk behind the stable to a stile.
7 – Continue straight ahead, maintaining direction, along the edge of the road.
8 – After 1/3 mile you will reach houses. There is a footpath on the left, opposite a tiny gate and beneath an ash tree. Walk down here, past cottages and over a footbridge (where you can play Poohsticks!) Follow the path along the edge of a field, eventually heading uphill.
9 – Where the path divides, head right. Walk past an enclosure of young trees and a hedge. The path eventually becomes very narrow and leads through hedgerow, beneath oak trees.
10 – At the end of the narrow path, turn left onto a wide track. After a few yards, turn right at the yellow arrow and go over the stile. Follow the wide grassy path, alongside fencing and a field. At the end of the field, head left, walking diagonally uphill across a paddock. At the top, go right, walking through a small section of woodland to a stile. Walk along the edge of a field to yet another stile.
11 - Turn right, onto the lane. Walk downhill, past houses for almost ½ mile.
12 – Where the lane divides, head right, eventually joining a wide path. This soon goes downhill through trees to Poohsticks Bridge. After the bridge, continue along the path. At the gate, head left, walking past hazel trees and bluebells. Go over the footbridge and follow the wide track upslope, between trees and carpets of bluebells.
13 – Walk along the right-hand side of the car park, past a huge beech tree to the road. Cross over and maintain direction, walking along the wide path.
14 – Follow the path around to the left and up onto open heathland. Eventually the path goes uphill and veers around to the left. At the pine tree and the bench, turn left and walk back to the car park.
A.A.Milne lived close to a wooden bridge over a stream, where he and his son Christopher Robin played a game called Poohsticks. Each player leans over the upstream side of the bridge and drops a stick (ideally of similar size) into the water at the same time. They then rush to the other side to watch the sticks carried along on the water. The stick that emerges from the other side of the bridge first is the winner!
In ‘The Official Pooh Corner Rules For Playing Poohsticks’, M.C.Ridley remarks: “Rule 10. People who play Poohsticks are usually nice people. When you arrive at the bridge and there are other people already playing Poohsticks - don’t worry. They may ask you to join in but remember, sooner or later, they will run out of sticks.”
If you find you have a natural talent for playing Poohsticks, consider entering the World Poohsticks Championships, which are held on the River Thames in Oxfordshire every year.
N.B. Please take your own twigs to the Poohsticks Bridge, so that the surrounding trees are not damaged, and never play Poohsticks with anything artificial.
For a pub lunch: The Hatch Inn (01342 822363, hatchinn.co.uk, TN7 4EJ) at Coleman’s Hatch is friendly and serves good food. Dogs are welcome in the newly created outside area that boasts views of Ashdown Forest. Drive north on the B2026 for about ¼ mile and then turn left. Drive along the lane for about 1 mile and then turn right and drive north for ½ mile.
For a cream tea: Children will love Piglet’s Tea Room (01892 770456, pooh-country.co.uk, TN7 4AE) at Pooh Corner in Hartfield. Alternatively drive south to Duddleswell Tea Rooms (01825 712126, duddleswelltearooms.co.uk, TN22 3BH), where you can have a traditional cream tea with freshly made scones and jam or a Pooh Bear cream tea, made with honey. To reach Piglet’s drive north on the B2026 for 2 miles and to reach Duddleswell drive south on the B2026 for 3½ miles.