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Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest. © 2006 Wildlife Extra.
The Ashdown Forest is a mystery to me. The New Forest gets an estimated 7-10 Million visitors per year, yet the Ashdown Forest gets a fraction of that number. At around 14,000 acres it is only 1/5 of the size, yet is arguably wilder and more beautiful. The remains of a 13th century hunting forest (the true meaning of ‘Forest’ is a hunting reserve, not the modern usage of area of trees), it is the largest open heath in the South East of England and has never been farmed so it remains rich in wildlife.

The Ashdown Forest is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as being a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. It also contains Old Lodge Nature Reserve and the Weir Wood Reservoir (in 2006 the reservoir was critically low).

Highlights: Fallow and Roe are very common on the forest and there are now some Muntjac and possibly a few Sika deer too.
Badgers, foxes and many smaller mammals are abundant, as are adders, though they are rarely seen. The Ashdown Forest is rich in butterflies, moths and particularly dragonflies.

Birds: Very rich in bird life, some of the notable species are Curlew, Hen Harrier, Nightjar, Ring Ousel, Stonechat, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Dartford Warbler, Willow Tit, Woodcock, Water Rail and Marsh tit.

And in one small corner of the forest you may well find a small bear along with a Kangaroo and young, a tigger, a piglet and a depressed donkey.
Location: Hard to miss. The Forest stretches from Crowborough to Forest Row, and south of Hartfield. The A22 and A26 both run across the forest, as does the B2026 and many minor roads. There are around 50 free car parks.

Grid reference: TQ480324.

These maps are intended as a guideline only; you must check the exact location of the reserve yourself. Wildlife Extra assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the information on this website.

 
 

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The old airfield runway runs down the middle of the reserve and the airfield control tower still stands near the northern end. On the blocks of arable land the sandy sub-soil has been brought to the surface so that heathland and grassland can be re-established by seeding.

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The extensive network of paths throughout the reserve ensures that you can explore the woodland, heathland and stream valleys thoroughly. The open sunlit rides and clearings are busy with butterflies in summer, taking nectar from the flowering plants.

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