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Home arrow News arrow Meet Reports arrow STMC Sunday walk in the Ashdown Forest. 22nd February 2008

STMC Sunday walk in the Ashdown Forest. 22nd February 2008

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Contributed by Gareth Pratt   

There were seven of us on the walk, Christina, Esperanza, Don, Lylli, Wayne, Sara and myself. We all turned rolled into the public car park in Forest Row around 10am and by 10.30am were ready to go. We headed out of Forest Row and soon turned right out of village and up through a golf course. Initially we went a little off course but soon found the path and entered Broadstone Warren woods, our first taste of Ashdown Forest proper. It was a lovely decidious woodland and despite the lack of green leaves very agreeable to walk through.



Eventually we emerged onto the road at the top of the ridge and followed it until we were able to turn onto the Vanguard Way and through another series of lovely woodlands until we descended towards the village of Newbridge where some idiot who shall remain nameless (ahem....) walked across the stream rather than be sensible and cross the bridge like the others did. The long pull up Kidds Hill towards  Gills Lap was enlivened by a discussion about the Six Nations rugby competition and by common consent it was agreed that Wales were the best team in the competition and all the other teams were hopeless, well at least that what I thought was said.......(Note to editor: In event of Wales not winning the Grand Slam please edit this bit out otherwise I shall feel even more of an idiot than usual).

We stopped briefly on Gills Lap for a snackette and a breather, but the wind soon got surprisingly cold so we pressed on. A bit further on we were stopped by a rather pale, ill looking young man who wanted to know where he was and how he could get to the "first car park coming into the Ashdown Forest". He didn't seem able to comprehend the answers he was given and indeed appeared to be quite unwell. We assisted as best we could and then carried on.

Next we crossed some lovely open heathland before entering Five Hundred Acre Wood. Possibly in my view the best part of the walk. 500 Acre Wood is a lovely decidious wood so typical of the Ashdown Forest, and gives excellent examples of native decidious trees in their prime. Majestic beech and Oak trees and carpets of golden fallen leaves. Wonderful stuff. The next bit of the walk to Hartfield village was a bit naff, basically a trudge down a concrete lane until we were able to turn off onto the Weald Landscape Trail. At this point, no doubt absorbed by their conversation, Lylli and Christina disappeared! Puzzlement set in before it became apparent they had inadvertently carried on along a field boundary rather than followed the Trail. Mind you given the fact that the path really wasn't obvious it couldn't be helped. The Rev Don set out to find his lost sheep and soon had herded them back onto the righteous path.

Barely a few minutes later we were safely esconsed in the "Anchor" pub having a drink and a natter. Quite why the pub should be called "The Anchor" when it was miles from the nearest coast defeated me! Many tales were told of japes and larks on previous STMC meets and what the merits of the various STMC meet locations were and weren't.

From the pub it only remained to walk the 3 miles or so back to Forest Row along the old railway line. At this late stage in the day the flatness and directness of the old line were much appreciated! We eventually got back to the cars at about 4.45pm.

Well it was another corker from the STMC! An excellent walk, excellent company as usual, and very agreeable and scenic countryside. We were lucky with the weather as well which whilst it never really got sunny never rained and never got too cold.

Roll on the next Sunday stroll I say!

Gareth Pratt

 Check out the pictures of this walk in the gallery

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