Its Lambing Season across the Ashdown Forest

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Lambing Season is approaching and its time to make sure that any dogs are kept on leads when they are anywhere near livestock.

Sadly every year during the spring, many sheep are mauled to death by dogs who’s owners either don’t care or mistakenly think their dog will do as its told when near heavily pregnant sheep! There are also many sheep who need considerable veterinary care and even if they survive they will frequently loose their lambs. This must be distressing for the farmers and sheep owners, the sheep themselves and the owners of the dogs.

If you walk your dogs on the Forest, at this time of year :

* Please keep them on a lead.
* Be aware of the areas where sheep and cattle are grazing – there is information on the Conservators website www,
* If you see dogs worrying sheep please report them to the Forest Rangers and or the Police
* Be aware that worrying sheep is a crime
* Also be aware that dogs worrying sheep may be shot.
* Consider sheep proofing your dogs – there are regular sessions run by the Conservators which train dogs not to worry sheep. Contact Conservators for details 01342 823583.

There was an appalling incident at Plawhatcjh Farm this week when two dogs – a labrador and a smaller dark dog killed many sheep, mauled others and then ran off. To my knowledge the owners have not been found as yet. Sadly those sheep that have not already died either due to their injuries or the shock of being chased, are now loosing their lambs. This is very distressing for all concerned and will cause a considerable financial loss to the farm.

Please ensure that your dog doesn’t worry sheep!

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Has your garden survived the summer?

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How well has your garden survived the drought during the summer? This is a great time of year to review your garden and drop into one of the many lovely garden centres across the Forest! Its time to pick up spring bulbs and autumn bedding plants such as pansies and chrysanthemums!

Visit Perryhill Nurseries in Hartfield which is a true nursery with most plants grown on site. Peter and his team are also there to offer advise over new plant choices and how to rescue plants that are sick. There are a wide range of trees, shrubs, bedding and bulbs. Don’t miss the annual plant sale 5th-7th October!

The Ashdown Forest Garden Centre has a wide selection of plants in their large polytunnel. Many of the plants are grown on site. There is also a shop selling a wide range of garden equipment and gifts, a stone shop selling a variety of stone slabs for paths and gardens and a popular cafe selling delicious home made soup, breakfasts, lunches and teas.

Wyevale Garden Centre at Wych Cross is famous for its wide range of roses – with names such as Happy Birthday, Congratulations and Happy Anniversary they make great gifts. There are a wide range of plants, an extensive garden shop selling garden equipment and gifts and also a lovely cafe. Why not browse the shop and then visit the cafe for lunch or afternoon tea.

Sussex Country Gardener in Frant has an extensive range of plants, pots and garden ornaments. There is also a very large shop selling garden equipment, clothes and gifts – a great location for Christmas Shopping. At the top of the site there is a lovely cafe with inside and outside seating, serving breakfasts, lunches and teas. The area is also used for interesting gardening talks throughout the year and childrens craft events during the school holidays. Recently fresh food – fruit and vegetables have been added to the shop as well as fresh fish. There is always something new at Sussex Country Gardener!

For further details of the Garden Centres across the Forest visit our website and search for Garden Centres.

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Fantastic Wedding Venues across Ashdown Forest


The Ashdown Forest is a fantastic place for a wedding. We have a great variety of wedding locations from lovely traditional hotels to more unusual locations such as a Llama Park and a steam railway!

It you are looking for a traditional wedding then Ashdown Park Hotel ( and Buxted Park ( are both stunning venues and are very popular wedding choices. More recently The Ravenswood opened as a wedding venue with beautiful gardens and accommodation on site. ( The restaurant at Gravetye Manor has recently been refurbished and now has stunning views across the lovely gardens. (

The Llama Park is a great location for an informal wedding with a ‘chapel’ and the unusual option of inviting the llamas dressed in bow ties, to join the proceedings! ( Have you thought of getting married at a steam railway? Spa Valley Railway is licensed for weddings and the reception can be held in the railway carriages as the train steams through the countryside! (www.spavalleyrailway).

Did you know that you can get married in a cinema? Picture House Uckfield is licenced. Lovely comfy seats and a big stage for the ceremony and then its just a walk across the road to the reception in the newly re-furbished Picture House Restaurant. (www,

Michelham Priory is another lovely venue for a wedding and one of several old building options . The beautiful Great Barn is licensed for weddings and receptions could be held in the same area or in a marquee in the grounds.

Nutley Edge is a self catering holiday venue where the whole site can be closed to the public and hired out. Bring your friends and family to stay in the lovely cottages and enjoy the beautiful grounds which lead out onto open woodland. Bridge Cottage is the oldest building in Uckfield and has recently been refurbished. It is a unique venue for weddings of up to 50 people. (

If you are looking for a venue – whether traditional or qwerky, there is always something different across the Forest to ensure that your special day will always be remembered!

For further details of exciting wedding venues across the Forest – visit our website and search for weddings and conference facilities. If you need any further help please contact me at

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Have you celebrated Burns Night?


Have you ever celebrated Burns Night? Historically its a celebration of Robert Burns and includes Haggis, ‘tatties and neaps’ which are usually accompanied by a ‘wee dram’ of whiskey. Sometimes there is also an ‘Ode to the Haggis’ before it is cut up and distributed. Dessert to follow is usually a Scottish special – cranachan which is a lovely mix of cream, raspberries, honey, whiskey and oats.

What makes the celebration special is the theatre of the arrival of the haggis which is traditionally piped in by bagpiper in full tartan dress. Many people also dress in tartan to make the evening a truly Scottish experience!

Sussex Country Gardener are offering two Burns lunches for £14 during this week and next. Visit the lovely restaurant and take the opportunity to browse their great selection of plants.

Ashdown Park has a special Burns Night supper on Thursday 25th which includes a Scottish piper in full dress and an ode to the Haggis.

Blackboys Inn has a Burns Night supper on Saturday. Once again this includes a three course meal including Haggis and Cranachan. Please book in advance

if you haven’t celebrated Burns Night before, why not enjoy a great night out and embrace this very Scottish celebration! For further details visit

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Find something new for your home in unique shops across the Forest!



Ashdown Forest is a fantastic place to browse the shops and find something wonderful for your home or that unique gift!

Room on the Row is a newly opened .shop in Forest Row which specialises in original lighting, furniture and accessories for the home.  They also feature work from local makers.  There is always something different at Room on the Row.

Rare Skills Gallery in Forest Row is now established as a great place to browse for prints and locally made items including bags, scarves and other accessories.  A great place to find that ideal gift.

Trading Boundaries is a great shopping location with Indian Artifacts- china, jewellery, glassware and artwork by Roger Dean.  Outside in the courtyard there are a variety of shops offering giftware, clothing and so much more.  This site is also well known for live music and exhibitions.

Other places to explore include Ashdown Gallery – a lovely art gallery which also sells ceramics and jewellery  Perryhill Orchards in Hartfield is a lovely farm shop and cafe selling a wide variety of fruit wines, beer and cider, jams and local crafts.  National Trust Gift Shops at Standen and Sheffield Park are also great places to browse.

The Forest is a great place to find unusual and unique gifts.  Why not leave the High Streets behind and explore the unique shops across the Forest!  For further details visit

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Spring Breaks in the Ashdown Forest!




On a dull morning in January, its a great time to start thinking about a Spring break. The lovely Ashdown Forest is a great place for a few days away! It can offer a great range of accommodation from camping and glamping to luxurious country house hotels.

An exciting range of activities includes art galleries such as Ashdown Gallery ( and museums such as East Grinstead Museum ( and National Trust properties including Sheffield Park ( and Standen Live music and quiz nights are available at a number of pubs and venues such as Trading Boundaries ( There are a wide range of farm shops and unique shopping experiences including Perryhill Orchards ( and Shearers Fine Foods (

While in the area why not take a ride on a steam train at Bluebell Railway (, visit Bluebell Vineyard to taste their lovely wines ( or book to take an alpaca for a walk at Llama Park ( or Alpaca Walking (

There is always something exciting to see or do on the lovely Ashdown Forest. Why not visit our website and book to come and explore the lovely Ashdown Forest this Spring!

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Wedding Open Evenings across the Ashdown Forest

The Ashdown Forest is a very popular venue for weddings. if you are planning your big day (or know someone who is) then why not visit wedding open days to see our lovely venues dressed for a wedding. There are also many opportunities to attend wedding fairs which include a wide range of local wedding suppliers.


The Ravenswood is newly re-furbished and re-opened last year. It offers a beautiful house, lovely grounds and a lake – ideal for those special photos. As an events location rather than a hotel, it is likely that you would have the venue to yourselves. They are holding a Wedding Open Evening on 19th January.


Ashdown Park is a beautiful site with a lovely building as a back droip and features including acres of grounds, formal gardens, a lovely patio overlooking the lake. There is also a popular option of using the chapel as a wedding venue. They are holding a wedding evening on 26th January.


Buxted Park is another stunning building set in beautiful grounds and offers a one wedding a day facility. There are a variety of room options available including the lovely orangery which January and also a wedding fayre links directly to the patio overlooking the grounds and lake. They are holding wedding evenings on 14th and 28th January and a Wedding Fayre on 18th February

The Ashdown Forest is a fantastic location for your special day. If you are looking for a wedding with a difference there are also some great options including the Llama Park where the llamas wear bow ties for the occasion ( and Bluebell Railway where you can be married on a steam train (
For further options visit our website and select a search on weddings and conferencing.

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Fantastic Wedding Venues across the Ashdown Forest

5th January



There are so many lovely venues to choose for your special day across the Ashdown Forest!  It is becoming a very popular choice for weddings with a rich variety of options from a traditional hotel wedding to something with a difference!

If you are looking for a classic hotel wedding then Ashdown Park at Wych Cross is a popular choice. There is the option of the hotel with rooms of different sizes or the beautiful Chapel. The Secret Garden, terrace and lawns and the lake are magical backdrops for photos. (

Buxted Park offers a range of rooms around the hotel and the beautiful orangery which opens onto the terrace. Once again the gardens make an ideal backdrop for photos. Buxted Park ensures that there is only one wedding a day and the whole hotel can be closed to the public. (

The Ravenswood is a beautifully restored events venue and has recently re-opened after extensive refurbishment. It has some accommodation and glorious gardens including a picturesque lake. It is only open for events and is therefore not classed as a hotel. (

Gravetye Manor is a beautiful Country House Hotel set in stunning gardens which would make a lovely backdrop for photos.  The award winning restaurant is ideal for a special reception meal.  The hotel is currently closed while a new restaurant is being created with a fantastic view over the garden.

Other wedding venues with a difference include The Lama Park, which can be closed to the public for events. There is a large party room and lovely grounds overlooking the Forest and Ashdown Park Hotel. The Llamas can attend the wedding and are dressed in their own bow ties for these special occasions.

Have you thought of getting married on a steam train at Bluebell Railway? Sheffield Park is licensed for civil ceremonies and there is a choice of getting married in the station or on a train. Then guests can board the train for a wedding breakfast with a difference as they travel through the Sussex countryside. (

Another option is getting married at Bluebell Vineyard in a giant marquee overlooking the lake and vines. June weddings when the vines are in flower are particularly beautiful. Autumn weddings when the grapes are large and the leaves are changing colour are also very picturesque. As an award winning sparkling wine producer, Bluebell Vineyard is an ideal location for a wedding!

Black Pig Orchards in Danehill is a beautiful site with a permanent marquee and lovely grounds leading down to the lake. Camping is available on site and as a brewery there are plentiful supplies of apple juice and cider. (

If you fancy a private wedding Nutley Edge Cottages offer a big house and a variety of self contained cottages overlooking beautiful countryside on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. Once your guests have arrived the gates can be shut to create your own haven. A marquee can be put up for the service and then food can be brought in or arranged through the staff. There is a very large communal patio along the back of a row of cottages which overlook the Forest. This would make an ideal venue for a reception. (www,

There really is something for every type of wedding on the Forest ranging from classically formal hotels to informal camping. There are also a range of specialists on hand to help to make your wedding planning stress free. For further information about the sites visit

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What to do with the family over the Christmas Holiday?

26th December


Once Santa has flown back to the north pole, there are still lots of exciting things to do across the Forest, over the Christmas holidays!

Book to take an Alpaca for a walk with Alpaca Walking. This is a fun event which can be booked in advance and is very safe for children as the walk takes place on the owners land.

If you like cats then visit The National Cat Centre at Chelwood Gate. Visit the cats, then meet the donkeys and explore the nature reserve. Then relax in the restaurant and don’t forget to try the cat cookies – promise that no cats are used in the cookies!

There are several locations for outdoor activities including Blackland Farm in Sharpthorne where activities such as trampolining, canoeing, crate challenge and more can be booked with qualified instructors. ( Nuts for Climbing is based close to Harrison Rocks and runs a range of climbing courses from bouldering for age 4+ to adult climbing weekends. There is something for everyone!

The Pantomime Aladdin is on at Assembly Halls until 3rd January. This years event is great fun, topical and too good to miss. Take the family for a fun night out! The ice rink at Caverley Gardens is another fun option for the whole family. Book in advance to avoid queues at busy times. Boots can be hired on site and there are also ‘penguins’ available for extra stability for children who are unsure of the ice! The rink is in place until 3rd January. Book via

There is always something new to see at Llama Park. There are daily Llama walks which are a fun activity for the family. Visit the pigs, alpacas and llamas and enjoy the outside play area for the children. Browse the shop – woollens, slippers, hats and gloves for adults and a wide range of children’s gifts and clothes. Relax in the restaurant and enjoy breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea!

How about a ride on a steam train? Visit Bluebell Railway or Spa Valley Railway for an exciting ride through the countryside!

There are so many exciting things to do across the Forest!

For further information visit

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping on the Forest



Christmas is with us and its time to do the last minute shopping for fresh food items! Why not avoid the queues and problems with parking and shop at local farm shops.

Visit Perryhill Orchards in Hartfield. Speak to the butcher and pick up your fresh meat for the holiday period. Then visit the Farm Shop for fresh fruit and vegetables as well as beers, ciders, preserves, breads and sweets. There is also a very useful cabinet of frozen fruits, pastries etc. Why not visit the restaurant and relax for a few minutes with coffee and cake or a light lunch?

Just over the road is Perryhill Nurseries. Why not pop in for Christmas flowers and pot plants to make someone smile! they also have a great range of roses and plants which would make great gifts.

Visit Tablehurst Farm in Forest Row for fresh meat from the farm as well as a wide range of fruit and vegetables, cakes, preserves and other goodies. This community farm sells much of what they produce and therefore have a very low carbon footprint as well as great food!

Shearers Fine Foods have a great range of fresh olives, sun dried tomatoes and more as well as seasonal food from around the world. Stock up on cheeses, breads and a lovely range of chocolates for Christmas gifts and also for the family to enjoy.

Also don’t miss the Friday morning stalls of fresh fish at Oast Farm in Buxted ( and the Sussex Peasant at Trading Boundaries (

Enjoy shopping across the Ashdown Forest this Christmas and I wish you a very Happy Christmas!

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600 Acre Wood in all its Autumn Glory!

23rd October 2017


The Ashdown Forest is a lovely place to explore. There always seems to be somewhere new to find and get to know!

Yesterday we went to Church Hill car park near Mardens Hill and Crowborough and had a lovely walk along Forest paths. We walked along the side of 600 acre wood – an area made famous by the AA Milne stories of Christopher Robin and enjoyed the beautiful autumn colours as well as the quiet. We only saw two people and a dog during our 1.5 hour walk.

After the strong winds there were carpets of sweet chestnuts under the trees and we brought home a bag of nuts to roast – some to eat now and some to freeze for Christmas.

There is always something new on the Forest.  Get out your AFTA map and let the kids choose a car park as a starting point.  Then explore the near by footpaths or pick up walks leaflets from the Forest Centre and follow the instructions.  At this time of year look out for sweet chestnuts, look at fungii – though don’t touch unless you really know which ones are safe. Also enjoy the autumn colours on the trees and the gorse which has just come into bloom! We are so lucky to have such lovely countryside near where we live!

The Forest Centre has a variety of walks leaflets which can be collected from the racks outside the Centre.


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Perryhill Nurseries – so much more than a place to buy plants!





Perryhill Nurseries, just outside Hartfield Village is a special nursery. They have great plants which are grown on site and a fantastic range of trees, shrubs, bedding plants as well as house plants and bulbs. They can provide both the plants and sound advise for all things plants!

If you have plants that are not at their best, a difficult space in your garden to fill or a lack of knowledge about which plants suit your soil, why not talk to the experts and ensure your garden thrives over the winter and into next summer!

This is a great time of year to assess your garden, identify what has grown and flowered well and what needs to be changed or moved. Why not drop in to Perryhill Nurseries and take a look at the wide range of plants available. As an added incentive, this weekend from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th they have their annual plant sales. All plants except autumn bedding and houseplants are included in the sale.

Why not drop in to Perryhill Nurseries this weekend and grab a bargain!

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Perryhill Orchards in Hartfield is a happening place!


Perryhill Orchards is a great site to explore!  There is so much to see and try!

The popular farm shop is well stocked with a wide range of  products from locally produced jams and chutneys,  cakes, vegetables, fruit, local bread and cheese from High Weald Dairy.  The drinks section includes a wide range of fruit wines, ciders, beers and apple juices – many from local producers  There is an opportunity to sample the drinks before purchase  – try the cider with a hint of chilli for something different!  There is also a crafts section which displays a variety of local crafts including silver jewellery, fused glass, pottery and more.  Please note that the Pick Your Own is currently closed.

From the farm shop walk through to the café where there is a wide choice of all day breakfasts, lunch, afternoon tea and plenty of delicious cakes to try.  Outside there is a garden and a large recently created area of decking has lovely views over farmland.  Meals served outside in the sunshine and on the new decking are a delight!

There is also a on-site butchers serving fresh meat and pies.  A popular range of sausages are also made on site. BBQ packs are popular with many of the campers in the area and the meat for 2 for a week at £25 is a bargain!  Drop in and meat the team who supply this great meat.

In a separate building is the Fireplace Centre which has a range of fireplaces, stoves and fireplace furniture such as brass brush and shovel sets, fire baskets and log baskets.  Expert advise is available to ensure you purchase the correct equipment.  Towards the back of the building is the Tourism Information Board where leaflets from various sites, including the AFTA map, can be collected.

Various events take place during the year, including a monthly food experience evening when BBC Master Chef winner Peter Bayless cooks a three course meal and then joins the group to talk about his experience on the popular TV programme.  These popular evenings must be booked in advance!

There is so much to see and do at Perryhill Orchards.  Why not drop in and find out whats going on!

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There is always something new at Sussex Country Gardener!


Sussex Country Gardener is a lovely garden centre … and so much more.  Its a lovely place to wander around and explore. There is a wide choice of plants available from standard bedding to far more exotic options as well as seasonal options such as vegetable seedlings in spring and autumn colours for late in the year.  There are also a few surprises such as gorilla hiding amongst the plants!

The café is located near the top of the centre and is an ideal location to meet up with friends.  It has a large covered area a well as an al fesco option with lovely views across the north downs.  There you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, cream tea or a restorative coffee and cake.  Why not treat yourself to the full afternoon tea!

The extensive shopping area is split into convenient display areas and includes extensive ranges or garden equipment and products to get rid of slugs and protect your shed!  There is a range of casual clothing and extensive areas of gifts from garden gloves to exotic perfumes and scarves and a lovely range of Polish pottery.  The gift area also has a range of ideas for children from buckets and forks to books and games.  There is also a section of lovely cakes and cookies which all make ideal gifts or a treat for yourself.

During the school holidays there are always fun activities for the children such as decorating cakes or making fairy gardens in the summer and planting up a pot for Mothers Day.  For advid gardeners there are regular talks by gardening experts such as Helen Yemm and Johnny Walker and also a range of workshops including willow weaving.

The latest addition to the range is a Farmers Market with fresh fruit, vegetables and cheese from local suppliers.  Why not drop in and try this new range of produce.

There really is something for everyone at Sussex Country Gardener!


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Sweetwoods Park Golf Club



Sweetwoods Park is located on the A264 at Cowden, near Hartfield Village just outside East Grinstead.   The drive winds down a steep hill to the club house and the Golf Pro Shop.  It is set in lovely countryside and is said to be the prettiest golf course in the area.

Sweetwoods is a Par 72 18 hole golf course and is open 7 days a week.  It welcomes both members as well as visitors. and has an active ladies group.  The course is only available to seniors on Thursday mornings.  The pro is Matt Tyler and he is available for coaching.  The Pro Shop is stocked with current golfing equipment and also houses a swing shooter.  Experience days are available on a regular basis.

The contemporary Club House includes a well stocked bar, restaurant and meeting rooms which are available for hire to members and non-members.

Why not visit Sweetwoods Park and experience this lovely golf course for yourself!


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