Sussex walk - Ashdown Forest


- Credit: Archant

This short walk in Ashdown Forest encompasses an old World War II airstrip

Ashdown Airstrip

Ashdown Airstrip - Credit: Archant

Ashdown airstrip

The Old Airstrip (which runs for three-quarters of a mile between stages 4 and 5 on the map) was built in the early 1940s by the Canadian army for use in World War II. It served as an emergency landing strip for British and allied aircraft that were damaged or needed to refuel. The land clearance required to build the airstrip created some of the wetlands here, which provide a habitat for plants such as the yellow-flowered bog asphodel. There is a second, shorter World War II airstrip running parallel to the A275, close to the car park, but it is now covered with vegetation.

For a pub lunch

The Red Lion at Chelwood Gate is close to the start and end of the walk. They serve light lunches, such as roast beef sandwiches, traditional pub food (with vegetarian options) and good desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding. To find it, turn left out of the car park and drive a mile down the A275., 01825 740265, RH17 7DE


Good to know

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• Location: Ashdown Forest, near Wych Cross, East Sussex

• Distance: 2.4m (3.8km) – an hour to walk.

• Terrain: Mostly flat paths, which can be very muddy – wellies are recommended!

• Where to park: In the reservoir car park, which is on the right just before the A22 Wych Cross junction, if you’re heading north on the A275.


1. Head south on the path out of the car park, with the reservoir on your left. Ignore the path immediately to your left and walk straight on.

2. Take the path left, which takes you slightly back on yourself and runs past pine trees. Where it meets another path, head right. You will come onto a wide grass and dirt track that leads through open heathland. Ignore the path that joins from the right and then the crossways, instead maintaining your direction straight ahead.

3. After half a mile at the pine trees, take the second path on your right. This leads through heathland with views of the South Downs in the distance. There is a pond on the left that many dogs use as a swimming pool.

4. Eventually, after half a mile, the path curves, bringing you to pine trees. Turn left here onto the Old Airstrip.

5. After half a mile at the pine trees, head left passing between trees.

6. Take the third turn on your left. Ignore the path that soon joins from the right and maintain direction, eventually walking past a clump of pine trees and crossing a stream.

7. Maintain direction to the top of the slope and then turn right. Ignore the path that soon joins from the left and continue straight ahead past pine trees. Eventually you will rejoin the original path, back to the car park.



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