Posted 18 July 2016 by Andrew Gardner
The High Weald in Sussex has fantastic holiday potential. Just to set the record straight, yes, there is also a Low Weald. And the Low Weald is lovely too, but it's the High Weald AONB I'm thinking about today. It spreads over 570 square miles through East Sussex, West Sussex and parts of neighbouring Kent and Surrey, so there is much to explore.
An AONB is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, one of 50 areas of Britain thus designated to protect and enhance this historic landscape - and the High Weald's sandstone ridges, rolling hills, irregular fields (no dull monoculture here), woodland and sunken lanes are still essentially a medieval landscape. The overall effect is really little changed since the 14th Century, though rest assured the modern world does exist there and we can offer you a holiday cottage with wi-fi!
The Ashdown Forest is famed as the highest point of the High Weald, rising there to 223 metres above sea level - higher even than Firle Beacon, one of my favourite points on the South Downs, though admittedly not by much. But it does mean there are tremendous views. And I've just learnt that the word 'weald' comes from the German 'wald', meaning an uncultivated wilderness. Well, I'd say the Weald is beautifully cultivated and not what you'd immediately think of as a wilderness, since it's been very much created by people and agriculture, but if you walk - or just sit in the garden of your holiday cottage - and look closely at the landscape I think your perception might change. Delightful wildlife you could spot, or hear, includes the dormouse and the distinctive-sounding nightjar. I think the hay will be cut quite late this year so this month you should still find meadows in full bloom, but once they're cut you won't miss out, as the wildlife may become easier to spot.
The High Weald Landscape Trail is a footpath that meanders from Horsham in the west all the way to Rye in East Sussex, taking in such landmarks as Borde Hill, Wakehurst Place, Standen and Groombridge. We have lovely holiday cottages ideally situated to explore parts of this beautiful landscape, and we look forward to welcoming you - click here to view our cottages in this area.