Hartfield, Withyham and Five Hundred Acre Wood For November we have chosen a walk which is a little ‘woody’ and what better than to choose Five Hundred Acre Wood. AA Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books, lived near Hartfield, and this part of Ashdown Forest is the setting for many of his stories. The walk takes you through a quiet and undulating part of the forest that lies below the open heathland plateau, an attractive mixture of woodland and pasture with fine views over both the forest and the Weald. It includes two interesting village churches and crosses ‘Pooh Bridge’, a delightful spot in Posingford Wood where Pooh and his friends played ‘Poohsticks’. The walk Hartfield is on the edge of Ashdown Forest, an attractive collection of houses and cottages with a fine medieval church dominated by a 15th century tower and broach spire. GPS waypoints are bracketed. (TQ 478 359) Walk along Church Street, passing the unusual lychgate to the churchyard on the left. Fifty yards beyond the lychgate, directly opposite the church porch, there is a stile on the right. Climb this and turn left along the edge of the field to another stile by a metal gate. Climb the stile and continue in the same direction to climb a third stile at the far end of the field. After this the path divides. Take the left fork to cross the field to a point where a line of oak trees – the remnants of an old hedge line – meets the left-hand edge of the field. The waymarked path leads over the next field diagonally, heading for a point to the left of Withyham church. Skirt the right-hand edge of a narrow belt of woodland and continue gently downhill to climb a stile on to a road. Turn right and cross a bridge over a stream. The village with its pub (Dorset Arms) is just ahead but the route immediately turns right (TQ 492 356) on to a tarmac drive – signposted for Withyham church – that leads uphill, passing to the right of the church and a large house. Withyham’s 14th century church was largely rebuilt following destruction by lightning in 1663. Inside there are beautiful monuments to the Sackville family, earls and dukes of Dorset, formerly the keepers, and later the owners, of Ashdown Forest. Continue along the tarmac drive, part of the Wealdway, for the next 1.25 miles, enjoying the fine views to the right across the Weald and ahead towards the wooded heights of the forest. Just after passing a row of houses on the right, turn left (TQ 490 338) over a stile in front of a white gate and follow the path beside a wire fence, bearing right and continuing into Five Hundred Acre Wood, the 36 The Onion magazine
‘One Hundred Acre Wood’ in the Winnie the Pooh stories. This large area of woodland, an attractive mixture of oak, beech and conifers, was enclosed from the forest in 1693. Cross a drive on the edge of the wood, keep ahead along another drive, bear right at a T-junction, and at a fork a little way ahead, continue along the right-hand track. At a junction of three tracks take the right-hand one (still following the Wealdway) which curves right and heads downhill following the inside edge of the wood. Bear right at the bottom and continue gently uphill to a fork. Here the Wealdway continues to the left but you keep ahead along the right-hand track, still by the edge of Five Hundred Acre Wood, a most attractive part of the walk. Eventually, the track heads uphill between embankments to a road (TQ 476 335). Turn left along the road and at a footpath diversion sign and public footpath stone turn right over a stile. Either follow the footpath arrows across the riding track and exercise area, or onionmagazine.co.uk
Published on Nov 2, 2014
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