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Heather on Ashdown Forest

13-Aug-16 • Sean O'Neill

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View of Hartfield

09-Oct-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Marsh Green Lane

11-Oct-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Ashdown Forest

11-Oct-15 • Sean O'Neill

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View from Linton's car park

11-Oct-15 • Sean O'Neill

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River Medway

12-Jun-10 • Sean O'Neill

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Cottage, Ashurst

12-Jun-10 • Sean O'Neill

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Ashurst to Forest Row and East Grinstead walk

A long walk through Pooh country with far-reaching views from the top of Ashdown Forest

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 11-Aug-18 47

Saturday walk - Ashurst to Forest Row - Ashdown Forest and hopefully some [heather]

Length: 17.8km (11 miles) with an optional 5.5km (3.4 mi) extension to East Grinstead
Toughness: 5 out of 10 T=3.110

10.07 train from London Bridge (10.22 East Croydon) to Ashurst (Kent), arriving 10.57. **

Our resident train gnome suggests a day return to East Grinstead as being slightly more expensive than one to Ashurst (Kent). There are also no barriers at Ashurst, though a very picky ticket inspector might make you pay the fare from Hurst Green to Ashurst on the outbound journey. Or do it the other way round (day return to Ashurst) and rely on your blue eyes and winning smile at the East Grinstead ticket barriers.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

You might think you have done this walk but you very likely have not, as it takes a different route from other walks starting in Ashurst (obviously....Ed) and has not had an outing for a couple of years.

After crossing pleasant lowlands, lunch is in a remote pub in Gallipot, though a slightly earlier option is available in (the more familiar to SWC walkers) Hartfield. After lunch it is up onto the heathlands of Ashdown Forest, which hopefully will be showing some nice heather colour. I say "hopefully" because I never seem to time heather right. Like bluebells it always seems to be half out or half over. But this OUGHT to be about the right time.

When we did this two years ago the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre had a "pop-up cafe" (what we pre-millennials call a "tea van"), but if that is not there, Forest Row is oozing with tea options. You can finish the walk here by taking the 270 or 291 bus to East Grinstead, which go at 16.03, 16.27, 17.04, 17.26, 18.03, 18.35, 18.57, 19.49, 21.44 and 22.44

OR you can walk on to East Grinstead via the old railway line - another 5.5km (3.3 miles) - using directions provided in the walk document, making a total walk of 23.3km (14.4 miles)

OR - if you want to be really flashy - use the shorter afternoon of the East Grinstead Circular, which is 8.9km (5.5 miles) from Forest Row, making a total walk from Ashurst of 26.7km (16.5 miles). This starts in paragraph 89 on page 8 of this document and you will need pages 8-10 (GPX here). Early in this option you past Tablehurst Farm cafe, a possible tea stop.

However you have got there, trains back from East Grinstead are at 06 and 36 past. **

** We were warned that on 20 May the times of every train on Southern would change. Well, the Ashurst train used to leave at 10.08 and it is now 10.07, while East Grinstead trains used to be 07 and 37 and are now 06 and 36. Try not to get caught out.


47 on this walk. Yes, 47. “Is this a record?” several people asked me. Consulting my database (which stretches back to 2011) I think the answer is probably yes. “Probably” because there has been the occasional popular book one walk Hever to Leigh, Milford to Godalming, Haslemere Circular where “around 40” have been reported. Maybe people on those days did not count precisely. But I did count today’s walkers as they exited through the platform gate and there were definitely 47.

Too big a group to “do names”. Too big a group to fit into a walk with “one lunch pub”, you might think. Some did take one for the team and stop at the earlier Anchor Inn in Hartfield. But the Gallipot Inn, the sugggested lunch stop, actually coped with the rest of us without problems. They had oodles of space in their very scenic garden. The service was also unflustered apart from one staff member who was rather frosty and seemed not to know the difference between vegan and vegetarian (even though vegan options were promised on the menu) or indeed between a beefburger and a veggie burger. (And no, this is not my personal moan: I had the lamb kebab).

It had started sunny but was mainly cloudy, with refreshingly moderate temperatures that I think we all enjoyed after the recent heat. Up in Ashdown Forest there were two or three nice patches of heather in full bloom, though not as much as I expected to be honest.

Five of us had tea at the pop up cafe in the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre, which was not, despite my jibe in the walk post, a tea van but some ladies (and gents) with nice homemade cakes. Most of the rest of the group went on to Taffels in Forest Row, whose welcome was as stellar as usual in the face of an army of walkers turning up not long before closing time and cleaning them out of both vegan and non vegan cakes. Others went to a nice new microbrewery type bar across the road.

Most, I think, got the bus to East Grinstead. Some (I did not count) did the extension up the old railway line. Seven of us reversed the shorter morning of the East Grinstead Circular (with a variation or two) adding 4 miles to the walk (=15 miles) and stopping en route for dinner in the Dorset Arms.

At least 3 went to Dorset Arms for lunch. 9 in Hartfield for lunch, joined by 1 sandwich eater. After lunch, 6 detoured along the old railway track way to avoid road walking via Gallipot Inn (since we had already eaten), eventually taking a pleasant footpath south to rejoin the official route near Marsh Green. This made the walk longer so after a reviving tea and cake at Visitors Centre in Ashurst Forest, most walked the shorter distance to Wych Cross to catch the 16:58 bus, with 1 carrying on to Forest Row and East Grinstead.
8 from the cafe group did the extension to East Grinstead but more may have followed on from the later arrivals in Forest Row. Superb day out.
Sat, 13-Aug-16 16

Saturday Second Walk – Ashdown Forest

Extra Walk 110 – Ashurst to Forest Row (or East Grinstead)
Length: 17¾ km (11.0 miles) to Forest Row. Toughness: 5/10

10:08 Uckfield train from London Bridge (East Croydon 10:23), arriving Ashurst at 10:58.

If you decide to finish at Forest Row you'll need to take Metrobus 270 or 291 from outside the Brambletye Hotel to East Grinstead. These alternate to provide a half-hourly service (at just after 25 & 55 minutes past the hour) to around 7pm, with later ones at 19:49, 21:14 & 22:44. These are carefully timed to just miss the trains (at 07 & 37 minutes past) so if it's a nice afternoon you could give them a miss and do the 5½ km extension up the old railway track, making an Extended Walk of 23¼ km (7/10).

Either way, buy a day return to Ashurst (Kent). In practice this has always been accepted for return from East Grinstead as both lines are operated by Southern, but ask the station staff politely before attempting to negotiate the ticket barriers.

This walk in the Upper Medway valley and across the northern part of Ashdown Forest was revised last year to take in an appealing new lunch pub just outside Hartfield, so let's hope the Gallipot Inn gives a warm welcome to the Saturday Walkers' Club on its first posting. The new afternoon section (via Gallipot Street and Upper Hartfield) is not as strenuous as before but there's still a fair amount of climbing before you can enjoy the fine views from the heather-covered ridge at the top of Ashdown Forest. After descending through woodland to Forest Row you can decide whether to catch the bus to East Grinstead or do the extension. There are plenty of refreshment places in both places if you're not in a hurry to get back.

You'll need to print the directions from the Extra Walk 110 page. T=swc.110
On some of these walks. You can download onto pdf on your Mobile phone. And you go into Files to do so.
16 on this walk, on a cloudy day, but with some early sunshine. A very pleasant and varied ramble, with a bit of hill, then flat river meadows and fields, then pleasantly hilly country around various villages named Hartfield, then a climb up and over Ashdown Forest. Good heather in the latter place, a whole mountainside of Himalayan balsam on the meadow section, and much discussion in our little group about what did or did not constitute a small heath butterfly. We had an illicit game of Pooh Sticks at a non authorised bridge.

Lunch in the Gallipot Inn was very pleasant and efficiently served, apart from the meal that they forgot about, and the garden had a nice view. The fake bus stop opposite the pub, at which buses do actually stop, was very amusing. After bemoaning in advance the lack of a cafe at the Ashdown Forest Centre, three of us were delighted to stumble upon a "pop up cafe" there. Most if not all finished the walk in Forest Row: if any walked on to East Grinstead we would be happy to hear about it.
Yes some did indeed walk onto Forest Row. I'm not sure how many as we were in 2 groups.
Five of us in the advance party stopped briefly for an ice cream in Forest Row then proceeded to East Grinstead for tea at CJ's in the High Street (the upstairs terrace overlooking St. Swithun's churchyard is recommended)
Really enjoyed my first Saturday Walkers Walk from Ashurst helping slow down Sean and Peter only just arrived in time for cake at Forest Visitor Centre. Posted some nature pictures on the Facebook Group page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/saturday.walkers.club/permalink/10154468414549529/
Sat, 03-Oct-15 11

Saturday Third Walk – Pooh Sticks in Ashdown Forest

Extra Walk 110b – Hartfield to East Grinstead
Length: 18½ km (11.5 miles), or 13 km (8 miles) if you finish in Forest Row. Toughness: 7/10

09:23 East Grinstead train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 09:29, East Croydon 09:41), arriving East Grinstead at 10:18. Outside the station, take Metrobus 291 (towards Tunbridge Wells) at 10:31, arriving Hartfield at 10:58.

Long Walk option, 24¾ km (15.4 miles): You can avoid the outward bus journey by taking the 09:02 Portsmouth Harbour & Bognor Regis train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 09:08) and changing at East Croydon (arr 09:17, dep 09:23) for the Uckfield train (which is starting from here this Saturday, not London Bridge), arriving Ashurst at 09:59. For this option a day return to Ashurst (Kent) has always been accepted for return from East Grinstead, but ask the station staff politely before attempting to negotiate the ticket barriers.

Trains back from East Grinstead are at 07 & 37 minutes past the hour. If you decide to call it a day at Forest Row, take Metrobus 270 or 291 up the hill to East Grinstead; there are two buses an hour up to about 6.45pm, with a late one at 9.15pm.

The new breed of SWC walkers who like their walks long and tough should be satisfied with the full Walk 110 from Ashurst, and they'll soon catch up the lesser mortals who've chosen the morning bus ride and shorter start from Hartfield. Either way you'll get fine views from the heather-covered ridges along the top of Ashdown Forest, not least at the Memorial to AA Milne and EF Shepard. You'll pass several places featured in the delightful childrens' books, starting with the famous bridge where you can test your skills with a few authentic games of Pooh Sticks. Later, be careful not to fall into Pooh's Heffalump Trap.

Lunch is at a remote country pub not visited on other SWC walks, the Hatch Inn in Coleman's Hatch (7 km from Hartfield, nearly 13 km from Ashurst). To get there you'll need to take the slightly longer route along country lanes in §6b. There are more fine views from another ridge in the afternoon before you descend through woodland and across a golf course into Forest Row. After a tea stop here the final section is a long gentle climb up the mud-free Forest Way into East Grinstead, where more opportunities for refreshment await.

You'll need to print the directions from the Extra Walk 110 page.T=swc.110.b
Intend doing the long walk option.


On the long walk option 11 foggy until lunch and clear sunny skies after

11 off the train at Ashurst. Foggy start to the day with lots of dew on the ground. In Hartfield, the group stopped at the church of St Mary the Virgin to participate in the Big Draw. Some 4 8 year olds were colouring up a storm, but we were not intimidated and showed them a thing or two about drawing. Also took advantage of the coffee, tea and cakes that were available for a donation. Next stopping point was Pooh Bridge where three walkers played the obligatory game of Pooh sticks. Lovely walk through Posingford Wood.

6 dined at the Hatch Inn, 5 picnicked on the green by the busy road and joined for drinks once their sandwiches were consumed. Food very good by all accounts. Landlady of the pub took an interest in the SWC and was pointed in the direction of the website for further information. By the time lunch was finished, the sun finally made an appearance and the afternoon was very pleasant walking through Ashdown Forest. Lots of exciting fungi were spotted, including one example of amanita muscaria (proper red and white fairytale mushroom). One final distraction for the day was a visit to the Forest Information Centre where time was taken to watch the video presentation about the forest.

4 took the bus from Forest Row. The remaining 7 completed the full walk to East Grinsted. Drinks were had by all at the Dorset Arms. 3 set off for the train and the remaining 4 had another drink, catching the 19:07 to London. All in all, a very good day, especially as no walker was lost to the bald eagle (7ft wingspan and three inch long razor sharp talons) that is currently missing in Ashdown Forest...
6 more walkers took the bus from East Grinstead for the shorter start from Hartfield, in the same foggy but a bit brighter later weather. It sounds like we were just ahead of the larger group but never paused for long enough to meet up. The main reason for this was our experience at the Hatch Inn. The pub was half empty at 1pm but the manager claimed they were full and refused to take any orders for food, not even a sandwich to eat outside. We grimly ploughed on to Forest Row and had a reasonably good late lunch in The Swan, after which two took the bus and four did the final leg up the hill.

The walk design seems to cater for all tastes (a middle section over Ashdown Forest with optional legs before and after) but the unwelcoming attitude at the Hatch Inn rules this out as a lunch pub as far as I'm concerned. The landlady may have taken an interest in the SWC but if their policy is to turn walkers away they won't be seeing us again in the near future, if at all.
Sat, 24-Mar-12 Hartfield to East Grinstead, via Ashdown Forest
Sat, 24-Mar-12 Ashurst to East Grinstead
Sun, 04-Dec-11 Ashurst Circular (short walk)
Sun, 26-Jun-11 Ashurst to Forest Row