Route for a Sussex walk near Duddleswell
- Credit: Deirdre Huston
Feast on far-reaching views from an Ashdown Forest ridge during an exhilarating walk around rugged heathland
This lovely walk features in my guide Sussex Walks. Heathland is one of our most threatened habitats and Ashdown Forest contains the largest area of lowland heath in the south east, with its own unique ecology. Characterised by land at altitudes below 300 metres where plants from the Ericaceae family such as heathers and dwarf shrubs dominate, heathland tends to have few trees. A significant factor in the development and maintenance of heathland is human activity, for example through livestock grazing.
Tree clumps often have a significance beyond navigational landmarks. The 'Friends' clump was planted by The Friends of Ashdown Forest in 1973, to commemorate the Year of the Tree. Camp Hill Clump was first planted in 1825, deriving its name from a military camp back in July 1793. Signs of old 'field kitchens' have been found in the vicinity. On a good day, from this vantage point, look south and you can see the distant South Downs around Firle Beacon.
Nobody is buried at the Airman's Gave but it's a moving memorial to a young air crew. During a bombing mission to Cologne, stormy weather forced their Wellington bomber to turn back and sadly the plane crashed.
Where to refuel
Duddleswell Tea Rooms: this charming and dog-friendly tea shop is a short stroll from our route. Home baking and pretty terrace. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm, TN22 3BH.
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- Location: Marlpits, Camp Hill and Duddleswell
- Distance: 4.4 miles (7.2 km) - 2 to 2 1/2 hours to walk plus stops
- Terrain: Some gradients, and it can feel longer than it is
- Where to Park: The Friends Clump Car Park
- SAT NAV: TN22 3HU
- Map: OS Explorer 135 Ashdown Forest
- Navigation: There's a lack of marked tracks but tree clumps can be helpful as landmarks.
- Dog-friendly: Yes but under close control as livestock are grazing freely.
- Further information about the Ashdown Forest: www.ashdownforest.org
1 Walk straight ahead beyond the clump, the bench and down the long slope on the wide path. Walk on through the copse at the bottom of the dip and continue straight ahead on the other side.
2 Easy-to-miss: just before the path starts to slope downwards, look for a small lone evergreen tree and turn right along the unsigned wide grassy path (if you reach the footbridge across the brook you've gone too far). Walk up the short steep slope and straight ahead to the top of the hill.
3 Reach Camp Hill Clump. Turn right along the first turning with the small rickety WW post. Walk on. Pass Ellison's Pond and go through the car park.
4 Cross the road to Hollies car park. At the signpost, go left on the wide grassy footpath. It curves round towards a ridge. Continue down a slope and follow the path straight on. At the unsigned fork, keep right and walk straight ahead. The path leads you through a small wood. Continue until you reach a broken, tarmac path.
5 To divert 200m to Duddleswell Tea Rooms, turn left, walk past Duddleswell car park and cross the road. Otherwise, continue across the tarmac path and walk straight ahead with the trees on your right. Soon there are trees on both sides. Stay on this wide path. Cross a tarmac driveway and walk straight on. The track becomes rougher and slopes downwards.
6 At the crossroads by the oak tree, turn right along the footpath. Keep going past the farm. Take the left fork and go down the slope. At the marker post in the copse turn right to climb the hill to the Airman's Grave then re-trace your steps. Turn right, rejoining your earlier path.
7 Easy-to-miss: at the brow of the hill by the trees, follow the path round to the right heading north. At the top as you approach the road, head for the bench and your car.
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