Ashdown Forest

Aashita Dhingra
Feb 29, 2024 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Enjoy with your kids at Ashdown Forest.
Age: 0+
Read time: 6.1 Min

  • Explore the place Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends lived and re-live their adventures on a Pooh Trek.
  • Play Pooh Sticks at the bridge that inspired A. A. Milne to invent the game.
  • Go deer-spotting and keep your eyes peeled for some of the rare and unusual wildlife.
  • Head to the top Llama Park Sussex has to offer, all located within Ashdown Forest.

Located in East Sussex, within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashdown Forest isn't your average day out. With a site that dates back to human occupation over 50,000 years ago, as well as some fascinating and unusual flora and fauna, Ashdown Forest is perhaps most well known for its role in the children's classic book 'Winnie-the-Pooh', written in 1926 by A. A. Milne. Having owned a property nearby, the forest was a huge inspiration for the author and is the main setting of the book, where Winnie-the-Pooh and his animal friends get up to a number of adventures along with Christopher Robin, the little boy in the story who was named and based on Milne's own son.

The ultimate place to come for Pooh lovers, Ashdown Forest is famous worldwide, and offers the chance for visitors to come from far and wide to explore the 'Winnie-the-Pooh forest'. The Pooh Trek is one of the top attractions to explore the woodland and look out for the places that are mentioned in the books. Each one of these treks involves a private tour where you are driven round to all the places frequented by Winnie himself, with the chance to stop and explore. You can head to Poohsticks Bridge, which is on the site of the original bridge from 1907 that inspired the famous game, and was opened by Christopher Robin Milne himself in 1979, and play your very own poohsticks. Discover the enchanted place at the top of the hill just as Christopher Robin and Winnie did, or check out the local 'Pooh-seum', which is filled with artefacts and lots of options for souvenirs and gifts to take home.

As well as its legendary role in the Winnie-the-Pooh books, Ashdown Forest isn't just a location in a book. With over 6,000 acres to explore, this isn't part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for nothing. With endless heathland, forest and parkland to explore, Ashdown forest is the perfect place for a day of history and enjoying nature, as well as checking out the literary sites. Ashdown Forest as we know it today, began life as a medieval hunting ground for Normans who invaded England in the 11th century. Over the years it was used as a place to graze livestock or hunt for game, and was even used by King Henry VIII to hunt as he was pursuing his future wife Anne Boleyn while she stayed at the nearby Hever Castle. Now, Ashdown Forest is the largest public access open space in the whole of South East England, and is home to a Llama Park, deer, the route of the Bluebell Railway and much more. The site is run by the Conservators of Ashdown Forest, who are located at the Ashdown Forest Centre on site.

The presence of humans in the area of Ashdown Park dates back over 50,000 years, and there has been evidence found in the area of Romano-British, Iron Age and even Bronze age remains. The sandy geological soil in the Ashdown Forest area allowed large expanses of heathland to develop, which in turn led to many different species of flora and fauna appearing. There are also streams and ponds, which area a key attraction for wildlife, as well as 1,000 acres of woodland that covers 40% of the Ashdown Forest site. Here you'll find dozens of species of birds, insects, plants and even deer, so this is the perfect place to come for nature and animal lovers.

As well as taking in the wildlife and enjoying the beautiful surroundings, there are plenty of top things to do at Ashdown Forest as a family. While the Pooh Treks are a fantastic option for those visiting the area who want a taste of quintessential English culture to complement their trip, there are also lots of free Ashdown Forest walks in this public access park that will take you through the trees to all your favourite spots in the book. There are a series of mapped walks you can take from the Forest Centre when you arrive, with each one approximately two miles long. Sports lovers can also check out Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club which is located next door, and if you're walking nearby make sure to watch out for any rogue golf balls!

With so much to see and do in this incredible location, if you want to stop for a lunch break there are plenty of options. If you'd prefer to bring your own food, a Pooh bear picnic is always a great choice, and there's a designated picnic area on site too. Alternatively, the Duddleswell Tea-Rooms, or the Mug Tree tea room in nearby East Grinstead is a great place for a cup of tea and slice of cake. For something a little more substantial, there are a few Ashdown Forest pubs to choose from, including the Hatch Inn to the east which is great for a pub lunch, or Roebuck on the west side of the park. Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, also in East Grinstead is also a top place for a delicious meal, plus it is a great option if you plan to stay in the area. While you can no longer wild camp without the permission of the Conservators of Ashdown Forest, there are plenty of campsites nearby. And, to head into the town, Ashdown Park is just a 20 minute drive from Royal Tunbridge Wells.

If you and your family had a top day at Ashdown Forest and are keen to explore some more of the South East, Bodiam Castle near Robertsbridge is the perfect place to learn all about the historical past of the area. Or, for some more outdoor fun, head to Drusillas Park near Alfriston, a fantastic zoo and theme park that will have the whole family entertained for hours.

What to know before you go

  • There are toilets on site at the Ashdown Forest Centre, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.
  • While there are many paths throughout Ashdown Forest, some may not be suitable for buggies and wheelchairs due to bumpy terrain.
  • The ground may become muddy or slippery depending on the weather so make sure to bring robust footwear and watch your step if walking.
  • Dog walking is welcome on site but they must be under control, especially around wildlife and livestock.

Getting there

  • If travelling by car, travel west from Wych Cross along the A22 until you get to the Ashdown Park Hotel on Colemans Hatch Road. From here, Ashdown Park is opposite the hotel. The Satnav postcode is RH18 5JP.
  • There are more than 40 car parks in Ashdown Forest, a map of which you can find on the Ashdown Forest website.
  • The nearest train station is East Grinstead, where you can catch the train to and from London, as well as the surrounding areas.
  • If travelling by bus, take the Metrobus number 291 that runs between East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells, or the 270 to Haywards Heath, which stops at both Wych Cross and Forest Row.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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Enjoy with your kids at Ashdown Forest.

Ashdown Forest