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In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh

There are currently 4 comments and 3 photos online for this walk.

In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 22 Sep 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guidestar1 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guidestar1 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guidestar1 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guidestar1 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guide
East Sussex, Ashdown Forest
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guide boot In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guide
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A 5.5 mile circular trail around Ashdown Forest, the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by AA Milne. The route gives you chance to immerse yourself in the world of Pooh and his friends. Play Poohsticks at Pooh Bridge, explore the 100 Aker Wood and visit Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. For those less interested in the Pooh connection (shame on you!) there is lots more on offer. Ashdown Forest's origins lie as a medieval hunting forest, created soon after the Norman conquest, and today its 9.5 square miles are the largest area of open access land in the south east. You will pass through beautiful beech woodland and vast areas of ancient open heath where you will be rewarded with glorious views of the surrounding High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The walk includes several steady but long climbs and descents throughout. The paths, whilst mainly firm, can run with water and be quite muddy in part after periods of rain and in winter. You will need to negotiate a couple of gates plus two stiles (both of which have gaps underneath that should be suitable for most dogs to pass under). You will pass-by some sheep grazing areas and horse paddocks which are fenced with electric fencing so take care with children and dogs at these points. The forest is home to a large deer population and the heath supports ground nesting birds so dogs need to be kept under close control. There are no toilets or other facilities on route. Approximate time 2.5 hours.

The walk starts and finishes at the Gills Lap free car park within Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. The car park is located at the junction between Chuck Hatch Road (B2026) and Kidds Hill, just a few miles south of the village of Hartfield. Nearest post code TN22 3JD (although this will take you a little too far south).

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Walk Sections

Start to Gills Lap Stone
Start to Gills Lap Stone

Start point: 51.0644 lat, 0.0928 long
End point: 51.0696 lat, 0.0961 long

Standing in the Gills Lap car park, with your back to the vehicle entrance from the main B2026, turn right along the grass ride. You will pass a stone-mounted map and a small copse of trees to the left and a bench to the right. As paths merge in from both sides, keep ahead to join the wider track which leads you between gorse bushes.

You will soon come to another bench, perfectly positioned to take advantage of the views down over the valley to the left. Keep straight ahead on the wide sandy track which leads you past a trig point across to the right. Just before the track begins to descend, pass through the low wooden fence on the left to reach the view point and commemoration stone.

This spot, Gills Lap, featured in the Winnie-the-Pooh books as Galleon’s Leap, the Enchanted Place at the very top of the forest. Christopher Robin knew it was enchanted because no-one was able to count the exact number of trees here. The commemoration stone is dedicated to the author, AA Milne, and the illustrator, EH Shepard, who ‘captured the magic of Ashdown Forest and gave it to the world’.

Gills Lap Stone to Pooh Bridge
Gills Lap Stone to Pooh Bridge

Start point: 51.0696 lat, 0.0961 long
End point: 51.0854 lat, 0.0978 long

When you’ve finished admiring the views from Gills Lap, go back out to join the main track and continue your journey downhill. Some way down, you will come to a bench and small copse ahead. Keep on the main track which skirts just to the left of this.

Stay on the main obvious track as it continues its steady descent. A little further along you will see the first signpost for Pooh Bridge, the next stop on today’s walk. This directs you to stay on the sandy path as it narrows and swings right between oak trees. The path will lead you to a T-junction with a small tarmac lane. Cross over and join the wide sandy bridleway which continues opposite.

The bridleway will lead you past a parking area on the right, Pooh Car Park. Immediately after this, bear left on the main stone track and follow it steadily downhill, passing a pretty pair of curved benches on the right. Stay on the main bridleway, ignoring the smaller paths left and right. (Note: if you are hoping to play Poohsticks, you will need to collect some sticks here as they are a scarcity in the area immediately around the bridge!).

Pass over the first wooden sleeper bridge (this is NOT Pooh Bridge), swing right at the T-junction then keep left at a fork to stay on the main path. Just a short distance further you will come to the wooden footbridge, Pooh Bridge. Poohsticks is a simple sport which can be played on any bridge over running water; each player drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner. In one of the stories, during a game of Poohsticks, Pooh and his friends were very surprised to see Eeyore floating under the bridge. ‘Don’t pay any attention to me. Nobody ever does,’ said Eeyore. ‘I didn’t know you were playing,’ said Roo. ‘I’m not,’ said Eeyore.

Pooh Bridge to B2026
Pooh Bridge to B2026

Start point: 51.0854 lat, 0.0978 long
End point: 51.0809 lat, 0.1052 long

When you’ve finished your game of Poohsticks, turn round and begin to retrace your steps back towards Pooh Car Park, crossing back over the wooden sleeper bridge. Further up the slope, take the first footpath signed off to the left, a sharp left turn. This will lead you to a stile at the edge of the woodland.

Cross this stile and keep ahead on the obvious grass track with a tree line on the left and fenced paddocks on the right. Continue until you reach the corner of the small copse ahead. Turn right to join the stone access drive, still signed as the public footpath. At the end of the drive you will see a stile ahead. You now have two choices.

The official line of the footpath crosses the stiles and gates ahead, straight over the horse gallop and training area. I would recommend following the ‘Alternative Route’ kindly marked by the landowner which loops around to the left of the training area (to join this alternative just turn left between the hedge and the fence and then follow the fence as it swings to the right).

As you draw level with the fenced horse menage area on the right, you are forced to turn left. Cross over the stile to reach the road, the B2026. Cross over the road with care, and then turn left along the grass verge (taking care of any traffic).

B2026 to Open Heath
B2026 to Open Heath

Start point: 51.0809 lat, 0.1052 long
End point: 51.0707 lat, 0.1096 long

Pass the vehicle gates for The Paddock on the left and continue just a few more paces until you are opposite the red garden gate for The Paddocks. Fork right here onto the signed footpath, a narrow stone and dirt path which heads down a slope into the woodland.

The path widens to become a sunken track under arches of holly and beech trees. Keep left at the fork and continue with a fenced sheep pasture on the left and a stream on the right. Go ahead over the footbridge across the stream and follow the main wide obvious path ahead.

This area is not part of the open access land of Ashdown Forest. It was sold off from the main forest in 1678, is privately owned and is known as Five Hundred Acre Wood. This dense beech woodland appears in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories as 100 Aker Wood and is home to Owl. Owl lived at The Chestnuts, an old-world residence of great charm, which was grander than anyone else’s, or seemed so to Bear, because it had both a knocker and a bell-pull. Underneath the knocker there was a notice that said: PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD. Sadly, it was later discovered that the bell-pull was Eeyore’s tail that he had lost earlier that day.

A little way along, the track begins to climb with a fenced area of heath across to the left. At the top of the slope you will come to a staggered T-junction and a waymark post showing a three-way junction. Turn right here, passing alongside the metal vehicle barrier. Follow this path which climbs fairly steeply and then begins to level off. You will be guided through the woodland by the WW yellow arrow markers, marking the Wealdway footpath, a long distance footpath which runs from Gravesend on the Thames Estuary down to Eastbourne on the south coast.

You will reach a wooden gate ahead. Pass through this and bear left, still following the WW markers. Follow this obvious woodland path for some distance as it winds through the trees. Continue for a fair distance and, part way up a slope, you will see a WW post marking a crossroads with another track. Go ahead here and after just a few yards you will come to a fork with another WW post. Fork right here onto the path which follow the edge of the forest on the left, with open heath on the right.

Open Heath to End
Open Heath to End

Start point: 51.0707 lat, 0.1096 long
End point: 51.0644 lat, 0.0932 long

The views to the right across the heath open up and you will be able to see for miles to the west on clear days. Stay on this grass and sand track, following the line of the forest edge on the left with bracken and open heath on the right.

A path merges in from the left. A few paces later, turn right onto the narrow path between gorse bushes. Follow this downhill through the centre of the heath. At about 11 o’clock on the horizon, you should be able to see Gills Lap car park (and perhaps your car if your eyesight is good). You will reach a crossroads with a wider track, turn left along this.

Take time to enjoy the magnificent views across the heath to the right. The valley bottom is dotted with atmospheric dead trees, so it is no wonder that this is the site of Eeyore’s Gloomy Place, Rather Boggy and Sad. Eeyore’s demeanour is reflected in almost everything he says. ‘Good Morning Pooh Bear,’ he said. ‘If it is a good morning. Which I doubt.’

The track leads you ahead and then swings steadily right (with another track coming in from the left). Further along, the track swings right again with another track merging in from the left. Stay on the main track descending steadily, ignoring any smaller paths off to the left. The track begins to climb and splits to skirt round a lone pine tree. A short distance further on, you will come to a fork. Take the right-hand branch and follow the line of the gorse bushes on the left. You will emerge to the main B2026 road. Cross over with care to reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


4 responses to "In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh"

My wife and I done this walk on Saturday 20th February 2016. It was wet under foot as expected in places but we loved it. Going back with the children in the summer.

By Crunch70 on 2016-03-03 08:14:30

John Porter: iFootpath does top notch walks with easy to follow, logical directions. It is a great app and I heartily recommend it. This was a lovely walk with plenty of great Pooh locations especially Eeyore's gloomy place of bogs and dead trees which was actually cheery as could be in the bright March sunlight. Cheery but DRAMATIC. Also as Jo Porter said it gave us endless opportunities to talk about POOH.

By Facebook on 2016-03-13 19:17:58

We did this walk this morning in the beautiful spring sunshine. Ate our lunch by the river at the end of section 3. Just perfect

By kirstyvines on 2016-04-02 16:44:23

Completed this walk yesterday, what a fabulous way to spend a sunny afternoon. The app made life very easy for me, someone with no sense of direction, scenery was breathtaking and those fellow walkers I met along the way were of the same mind. My highlight was in the 100 Aker Wood, a deer with her fawn, magical.

By truffles on 2016-08-22 11:28:56

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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3 images to "In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh"

3655_0richsnooks1424216965 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guide Image by: richsnooks
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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3655_0Maccrrambler1457983319 In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh Walking Guide Image by: Maccrrambler
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