Anyone remotely aware of Winnie-the-Pooh should know that Ashdown Forest is an Enchanted Place.
It is where A. A. Milne set the stories about his son Christopher Robin and his toys, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Pooh bear.
The bridge where they played Poohsticks, built in 1907, survives, at least in replica — the wood it was made with had rotted by 1999.
It’s not the only Winnie-the-Pooh site, though. Official booklets on Pooh Walks cover Roo’s Sandy Pit, the North Pole, Eeyore’s Sad And Gloomy Place, Galleon’s Lap and the Heffalump Trap.
This magical corner of East Sussex, between East Grinstead and Crowborough, is teeming with unusual wildlife.
Ashdown Forest is is where A. A. Milne set the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Above is a replica of the bridge where the series’ characters played Poohsticks
‘Forest’ is a misleading term since much of the landscape is heathland. It has international classification as a Special Protection Area for wild birds, such as the nightjar, which comes from Africa to breed here. There are also butterflies galore.
Although the South-East of England is one of the most densely populated areas of Europe, this remains a place of open vistas, where you can walk and wonder.
Forests were important during the Middle Ages, when wood was used to make tools, ships, furniture and houses. Ashdown Forest was given to Edward III’s son, John of Gaunt, for hunting.
Get caught up in A.A. Milne’s stories during your visit to the forest – official booklets on Pooh Walks cover Roo’s Sandy Pit, the North Pole, Eeyore’s Sad And Gloomy Place, Galleon’s Lap and the Heffalump Trap. Above is the Pooh Corner gift shop
It remained a royal forest into the 17th century. Due to its supply of wood combined with deposits of iron ore, Ashdown Forest supported an iron industry in Roman and Tudor times — in 1496 England’s first blast furnace was built at Newbridge.
Within walking distance of Friend’s Clump car park is Nutley Windmill, a 300-year-old open-trestle post mill, in full working order.
Pause for a moment at Airman’s Grave, a memorial to the six-man crew of a Wellington Bomber of the 142 Squadron, which crashed in the forest on July 31, 1941, as part of a 100-plane bombing raid on its way to Cologne.
Above is Nutley Windmill, a 300-year-old open-trestle post mill, which is in full working order
To the west of the forest, in the valley of West Hoathly, you’ll find The Cat Inn (above), a 16th-century freehouse with oak beams and real ales. ‘I think it’s the best pub in England,’ says Clive
And while Groombridge Place, a moated manor house built in 1662, is currently closed for refurbishment, you can still visit the nearby Spa Valley Railway to watch steam trains pass by. You could even hop on board and take a trip along the track to Eridge or Tunbridge Wells.
It’s technically outside Ashdown Forest but is close to Pooh Corner.
Since the Victorian period, the forest has attracted city dwellers in need of a spiritual lift, including A. A.Milne. His home, Cotchford Farm, is available on Airbnb, with six bedrooms; guests can sleep in Christopher Robin’s room.
Perfect for fans of Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne’s home, Cotchford Farm (above), is available to rent on Airbnb
Stay at Chauffeur’s Cottage (above) in nearby Uckfield, which sleeps six
Among the villages is the aptly named Forest Row, recently dubbed one of the poshest in England by a national newspaper.
It is a centre of alternative lifestyles. Delicious organic/vegan fare is served at The Seasons Kitchen.
Venture six miles west, into the High Weald, and you’ll find The Cat Inn, a 16th-century freehouse with oak beams and real ales, in the valley of West Hoathly. I think it’s the best pub in England.
Staying at The Anchor Inn, Hartfield, costs from £120 B&B (anchorhartfield.com). A week at Chauffeur’s Cottage, Uckfield (which sleeps six) costs from £715 (holidaycottages.co.uk). The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, is priced from £160 B&B (catinn.co.uk). For Pooh Walks, visit poohcorner.co.uk/ashdown-forest.