A short walk in the woods

I recently spent a week at The Hideaway cottage in Bolney, Sussex. Having two young children the property was perfectly suited to their needs: it was self-contained, offered plenty of room for them to play and was situated close to some of Sussex’s most popular attractions. Both my girls also loved the chickens in the garden (the eggs helped!) while my wife and I were more taken by the peace, quiet and welcoming bottle of wine left by the owners. But one thing we all ended up loving about the property was its close proximity to Ashdown Forest…

Set atop the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashdown offers nearly 10 square miles of common land; in fact it’s supoosedly the largest public-access area in southeast England. We were all very keen to get out and explore the area, but having the girls with us we  were also mindful of the fact that we’d need somewhere they’d be able to stretch their legs and, when sufficiently tired, somewhere we’d be comfortable carrying them round.

We soon decided on the Pooh Walk at Gills Lap. Author AA Milne was a regular visitor and his tales of Winnie the Pooh owe a special debt to the beauty of the surrounding landscape.  Gills Lap itself offers two walks: an adventurous 3 mile trek past Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place and a half mile walk past the Enchanted Place, Heffalump Trap, Roo’s Sandy Pit and more. We set intended to do the longer walk but, having spent too long trying to trap a Heffalump at the Heffalump Trap (someone really needs to think about that name!) we had to settle for the shorter walk. Not that we minded, despite the weather not being in our favour the short walk takes in some beautiful locations with breathtaking views and stunning colours.

From the Gills Lap car park a short 200 metre walk (which can seem a little longer with easily distracted youngsters and plenty of puddles!) leads you to the Enchanted Place on the right.

From there a left turn takes you a few metres down to the Heffalump Trap – notable for its lack of actual Heffalumps. The reality of a lovely little hollow where a lone pine grows more than makes up for this, at least for the grown-ups!

Walk back up the path and turn left, after about 10 metres and you arrive at the tribute to Milne and EH Shepard, the illustrator of Pooh’s adventures. The views here are stunning, so it’s no surprise to find the author was so keen on dreaming up Pooh’s idyllic escapades there.

Turn right from the memorial and you soon arrive at the site of Roo’s Sandy Pit. Now a disused quarry it could just as easily be called ‘Roo’s Big Puddle of Water’. Undeterred, my girls decided they had to go down for a closer look. The bank here was a little slippy, so be careful if you try to walk down it.

Follow the path round from the ‘Sandy Pit’ and you arrive back at the car park. It’s a short and sweet stroll through some of Sussex’s finest scenery. If you fancy rounding up your adventure with a little refreshment you might also want to pay a visit to the nearby village of Hartfield. There you’ll find ‘Pooh Corner’, a lovely little tearoom that contains plenty of refreshment and lots of Winnie the Pooh souvenirs.

You can find more info on The Hideaway on cottages4you.

Posted by Ben Webster.