Posted 1 May 2012 by Andrew Gardner
Dust off your hiking boots and head for Ashdown Forest. We have accommodation around the area. It's fabulous at any time but on a clear, sunny day and with the trees filling with new leaf growth you can see so much. It's not just the views, though – just look at the textures. Windswept grasses against soft heather, dark birch and oak trunks... if you're given to taking a sketchbook on holiday, do bring it here. The walking doesn't have to be hard; plenty of hills but if you start from one of the car parks (which are free, by the way) and do a circuit, there's nothing too arduous.
The forest has plenty of lovely places to see even if you don't really enjoy walking. Winnie The Pooh country, around Hartfield East Sussex, is delightful, and it’s worth calling in at the visitor centre, which has plenty of information – from maps and trails to how to recognise different types of newt – and usually an art exhibition. The volunteer staff are well-informed and helpful.
Last month the Ashdown Forest sadly suffered from a forest fire with smoke first seen from somewhere around King's Standing. It was ominously dark at the core requiring fire crews from outside Sussex to help bring it under control. The South East has been so dry in March and now with the announcement of a hosepipe ban we have had one of the wettest April months on record. The lack of rain was a concern so early in the season and potentially had worrying consequences for the Forest if it remained dry through the holiday season. We now joke that we are having the wettest drought ever! However this rain is a relief and although an inconvenience for those of us in the holiday industry you need only take the road across the Ardingly Reservoir and it will bring it home to you – the water level really is low.