Ashdown Forest is an ancient area of tranquil open heathland occupying a high sandy ridge-top some 50km south of London in the county of East Sussex, Rising to an altitude of 732 feet (223 m) above sea level, its heights provide expansive vistas across the heavily wooded hills of the Weald to the chalk escarpments of the North Downs and South Downs on the horizon.
Ashdown Forest's origins lie as a medieval hunting forest created soon after the Norman conquest of England. By 1283 the forest was fenced in by a pale enclosing an area of some 20 square miles.
In 1693 more than half the forest was taken into private hands, with the remainder set aside as common land. The latter today covers 9.5 square miles and is the largest area with open public access in South East England.
Ashdown Forest is famous as the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A. A. Milne, who lived on the northern edge of the forest and took his son, Christopher Robin, walking there. The artist E. H. Shepard drew on the landscapes of Ashdown Forest as inspiration for many of the illustrations he provided for the Pooh books
I was staying with friends very close to Ashdown on my recent visit to Kent and Sussex. I couldn't resist visiting the famous yet quite unpretentious 'Pooh-Sticks Bridge' and realising a childhood fantasy; to stand where Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh had stood many years ago, racing Pooh-Sticks, by throwing them into the water below.