That rare feeling of serenity was achieved and nothing else mattered,
I have decided to get the ball rolling in sharing my most recent walking experience. A recent ‘Walks and Rides’ supplement inspired me to explore my surroundings and took me to a truly beautiful location called Ash Down Forest, in particular, Friends Clump. Here I discovered an unchanged environment that upon first sight melted all of my troubles away. Jess and I equipped with a picnic set off from ‘Friends Clump’ and walked along the path occasionally stopping to explore sections of the forest which seemed to add to our sense of adventure.
Through the wilderness we came across a hidden stream. The sound of the stream washed over me, taking me back to a time when the world was a much simpler place. With no technology to hold me back and the fresh air filling my lungs it was impossible not to be totally at peace with the world. That rare feeling of serenity was achieved and nothing else mattered, I was untouchable.
The most shocking part to me was that this experience is five minutes down the road; I’ve lived here for years! The best advice I could give anyone reading this would be to pack that waterproof and picnic and complete this experience story. Enjoy the environment around you with that person you love. There’s nothing quite like it, truly amazing…
No mobile phones allowed!
Cost: Petrol and picnic
The following information is from various information boards at ‘Friend Clump’.
Nowadays Ashdown Forest has a ragged, confusing boundary. But from the late 1200s to the late 1600s, it was surrounded by a 55 km long ditch and bank that allowed deer to enter. This boundary or ‘pale’ was an obvious barrier that can still be seen in some places. People could pass through it by ‘hatches’ and ‘gate’ that live on the names of settlements like Chuck Hatch and Chelwood Gate. Some of these entrances into the Forest are also marked by pubs!
During the political turmoil of the 17th century, half of the forest passed from the common land into private ownership. Gaps appeared in the external boundary and large ‘holes’ appeared inside the forest. Old lodge, the large house visible from Friends Clump, marks one such hole in the forest, as does the Pippingford Ministry of Defence training area just to its left.
The public part of the forest now comprises 2500 hectares and is the largest open access area in Southeast England. It has its own bye-laws and its traditional Commoners’ rights are fiercely guarded, even if not always actually used. The grazing of livestock is the most obvious right.
The clump of Scots Pines is one of a number round the forest that was first planted in 1825. Such clumps feature in the paintings by E.H Shepard in the Winnie-the-Pooh books written by AA. Milne.
Forest bye laws
1. Please keep your dog under control at all times near livestock and during the nesting season.
2. Please do not cycle on in forest; you will cause erosion and spoil other people’s enjoyment.
3. Please do not drive on the forest and park in the designated car parks only.
4. Please take your litter and dog mess home to keep the forest clean for everyone to enjoy.
5. Please do not light fires or barbecues on the forest; you could cause a forest fire.
6. Please do not obstruct forest staff they are caring for the forest and helping you to enjoy it.
7. If you want to ride your horse on the forest, you will need a permit from the conservators.
8. Please do not camp in the forest or the car parks.
The bye-laws were made by the Conservators of Ashdown Forest under the powers conferred on them by the Ashdown Forest act 1974. A complete list of by-laws can be obtained from www.ashdownforest.org
If you have any advice on where to visit in the local area, where is great to walk and cycle? Please take a moment to tell us about it. Perhaps Jess and I will find a new favourite place?
Lee @ Rohan Tunbridge Wells