Start point for the walk: Eridge Station

Finish point for the walk: Eridge Station

OS 1:25 000 maps: 135 Ashdown Forest

Length: 14.64 km

Maximum height: 244 m

Minimum height: 54 m

Height ascended: 368 m

Estimated time for the walk: 3 hrs 30 mins

Route description

(Route description is based on survey walk undertaken on 20 October 2007.)

Coming out of Eridge Station, turn right along the road, and then turn right almost immediately along a lane, signed Forge Road.

You will pass a converted oast house with two towers. The road then bears left. At the next corner, a finger post directs you up the driveway to the Lodge, Hamilton House and Hamsell Lake House. The end of the drive turns into a footpath - a lake can be glimpsed to the right.

The path soon crosses a style, to a path following a hedge along a field edge. There are three trees in the middle of the field, with large modern barns behind. At the end of a hedge, continue across the field in the same direction towards to some oak trees, with a stand of firs to the right. At a finger post, join a farm track from the large modern barns, continuing in the same direction.

At the next finger post, follow a track with a concrete surface that heads fairly steeply down to the right. You are briefly joining the Sussex border path.

At the bottom of the track there is a three-way finger post - the path you are looking for is the path off to the left. To reach it, briefly turn back on yourself, but go along the field side of the hedge bordering the track, then follow the field boundary, initially along a stream to your left. The right of way shown on the map runs parallel to the stream some 50 m away, but is clearly not used. In October 2007, the field was sown with broad beans which were just showing one or two inches tall.

At the top of a slight rise, the path continues ahead across the field, while the stream bears away to the left. The path gently rises and then, just before an isolated oak tree, seems to bear left back down to the stream. However, carry on at the same height to a rickety four-way finger post just to the right of the oak tree. The way is then across the field, continuing in the same direction, towards a bench, just visible from finger post, on the field's far edge. In October 2007, the field was a bit muddy after recent ploughing and sowing. It is worth stopping that at the bench to look back. The view is good, though not spectacular.

Finger post
Four-way finger post on the way to Crowborough

The path then goes through a gap in the hedge - there is no stile - to follow the edge of Boar's Head Wood, which is largely hazel coppice. Coming out of the wood, cross over a stile and head across a small field towards another stile (and bench) just to the left of a gate into the garden of Stonehouse Farm. Cross the stile into the garden. The next stile is just across the garden and a drive, in front of a barn or garage - do not follow the drive to the right. Cross the stile, turn to the right behind the barn, and then almost immediately left, following the fence alongside the drive. Shortly another stile allows you to join the drive legitimately, at a sign for Stonehouse Farm House and Barn.

Carry on up the drive, now a track, soon having a tarmac surface with grass down the middle, with a woodland to the right. Pass a pond to the left. After the pond, there is some fairly newly planted woodland to the left - perhaps 10 years old.

Eventually, the track turns right to woods, pine to the right and deciduous trees to the left. At a red topped post, the road bears left and uphill, still in wood. Past a forestry work site on the right, and then two redbrick estate cottages with a beech hedge in front of them, the woodland ends. Continue along the track (now a lane) uphill.

At the Wealden Mencap Growmore Project, the lane (Pilmer Road) begins to become suburban, with bungalows to the right and then bigger houses - the edge of Crowborough. The houses are of very mixed styles and ages - 'Rosewood Villa' 1895, 'W&CA' 1911, 1930's semis, and modern infill such as Sandown House (a small block of flats). Towards the end of Pilmer Road you pass a small car park (long stay) to the left and then, round a bend, the junction of Pilmer Road with London Road. There is a small parade of shops ahead, containing the usual shops - Threshers, a barber's shop, an estate agent. Turn left along London Road, to a major junction with the A26 (Beacon Road to the right, Eridge Road to the left).

The Crowborough Cross pub is opposite the junction. On the right, in a small paved and planted area, is a statue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 'Resident of Crowborough 1907 - 1930'. On the day I walked past, Sir Arthur was cloaked in the flag of the English rugby team - England were just then playing South Africa in the World Cup final (they lost).

Follow Beacon Road uphill, past classic suburbia - Christ Church Independent Evangelical Chapel (Christ is 4U - RU4 Christ?), Crowborough Community Fire Station, some houses, the Beacon Medical Centre, Morrisons supermarket with Lidl (a large shed) opposite. The road climbs gently and ahead you can see a radio or mobile phone mast.

At the junction with Goldsmiths Avenue, the road levels out, but is still going upwards. The mast and Beacon Reservoir are on the left-hand side of the road. Visually, the high point of Beacon Road seems to be between the junctions of Warren Road and Beacon Road West, opposite the entrance to the Beacon Reservoir and Tower, at about TQ510306. This is a little to the north of the 'official' location of the Marilyn at TQ510305. It is possible to glimpse a trig point (which is not the high point) in the compound of Beacon Reservoir, through a rather scruffy laylandii hedge. However, the exact location of the Marilyn is rather questionable, as there is no clearly defined peak.

* * *

To return to Eridge Station, turn right off Beacon Road, down Warren Road (the high point could even be in Warren Road, where it first turns left - there is a manhole cover in the centre of the road, which might be the actual high point). This is rich, leafy suburbia, in autumn disturbed only by the roar of leaf blowers.

Turn right into Aviemore Road, opposite a left turn into Links Close. Beyond the junction with Beacon Road West, marked by a letterbox, Aviemore Road slopes down and to the left. When I passed, a sale board for a house advertised 'forest views', and these views, over Ashdown Forest, become visible from the road as you round the corner. At a gap in a beech hedge, a discreet finger post points to the right. Take this turning, going down a few wooden steps, to follow a path, initially between beech hedges. The path kinks right at a wooden lap fence, then left downhill between gardens, soon following alongside a driveway. It the crosses Glenmore Road East and continues along between Gardens. Just beyond where the path is joined by a path coming in from the right, it meets another road, Old Lane.

Cross the road and continue along the path. Just before it comes out of some trees into a small clearing, the path branches. Continue along the branch ahead, across the middle of the clearing. Then follow the path down through the woods, following the most used and obvious track, to meet a woodland drive. There is a crossroads at this point. To the left is the entrance to a house, to the right the drive heads uphill, and ahead the path drops through the woods. Take this path, going ahead. It has a smooth surface and is quite wide.

Cross a footbridge over a rill, with rough wooden hand rails. Continue ahead, uphill, ignoring paths off to the left. The woods open out to become heathland, and as you get to the top of the slope a view appears. Another broad path soon joins from the right. Continue ahead, with views over the valley to the left, roughly following the contour along the side of the valley.

As the path curves round to the right views open up at a longer distance. The path drops increasingly steeply as it bears right. At a crossing of paths, turn right, now following the contour again. Fairly soon the path goes back into the woods, with glimpses of houses ahead. The path then branches into two wide routes. Take the branch off to the right, heading uphill. The path is soon joined by a small path from the right. Continue on to reach the road, where there is a sign for Mardens Hill to the left. At the road turn right, and then in 20 m turn off left along a bridleway, marked by a post with a blue arrow.

Go downhill into the woods, initially bearing right. You soon come to a Y-junction. Take the left-hand route (almost straight on), going downhill. Continue across a driveway with a house on the right (do not follow the footpath sign pointing left down the drive). The bridleway itself soon bears off to the right and can be very muddy, so continue ahead on a footpath with a garden hedge to the left. The path emerges onto a driveway (an unsurfaced track). Continue ahead along the driveway. In 20 m the bridleway rejoins from the right.

Continue ahead to a road (School Lane) and then turn left, downhill past some houses. At the bottom, where the road turns left at a house called Tanners, continue ahead up a path into the wood. The path soon bears right, following a steep little valley with a stream in the bottom to your left. Go up a few steps to cross a footbridge parallel to the stream (and a very small waterfall). The path then joins a concrete driveway. Turn sharp left along the driveway, crossing over another bridge, this time over the stream itself. There is a white cottage to the left. Take the path ahead up into the trees. Fairly soon, there is a clear footpath off to the right. Take this footpath - it is slightly sunken, following between gardens to arrive at a suburban cul-de-sac (Innham's Wood). Turn left along the road for a short distance, towards a gatepost signed 'Sally Gap'. The path runs to the right of this gatepost. Follow the path until it joins a driveway into Meadow House, then turn right and almost immediately join the main road.

Here, turn right and follow the road. Just past the 'Welcome to Crowborough' sign, at a pillar box, turn left along Gillridge Road, a private road and public bridleway, following a sign saying 'Eridge Station 2 ¾, Groombridge 5' (National Cycle Route 21). There are good views to the right just after the turning.

Just beyond an enclosure selling logs and chestnut post and rail fencing, where the road does a dip and curve, there is a finger post indicating a footpath off to the right. Take this path into the woods. It soon emerges at a stile into a field. The path goes diagonally up and across the field, with waymarks at intervals. There are views to the right at the top of the field. Cross a stile to rejoin the road at Gillridge Farm Oast. Turn right along the road.

Past some houses, the road becomes an unsurfaced track. At a bend to the left, there are good views to the right and then, further on, views to the left. The road meanders on to reach Orznash Farm. This is more of a hamlet than a farm, with half a dozen houses. The road continues beyond the farm, passing a three way finger post. At Holewood Farm (not named on the 1:25 000 OS map), a finger post points the way along a continuation of the road, now narrow and heading into the woods. In the woods are deer and chestnut trees.

At the end of the wood, the road gets rutted and muddy and turns sharply left. After 30 m there is a finger post pointing along a footpath off to the right. There is no stile, and the field gate seems to be permanently half open. Follow the path along the field edge. At a four-way finger post, you cross the Sussex Border Path. To the right, you can see the track forming part of the Sussex Border Path that you followed near the start of the walk.

Continue ahead, following the field boundary hedge. At the end of the field, go across the next field, bearing slightly right, along a farm track formed from an unploughed strip, heading to a gap in the trees opposite. Go through this gap, pass alongside some woodland, and then continue on the track (against an unploughed strip) across a field. The track leads into a farmyard with barns. Bear left around the barns, to meet a tarmac road leading to the farmhouse. Turn right along the road, which drops to meet a lane (this is the lane signed 'Forge Road' at the start of the walk). Turn right and follow the lane, back past the converted oast house, to its junction with the road that runs in front of Eridge Station. Turn left to reach the station.

There is a pub just beyond the station called the Huntsman (the brewery is Hall and Woodhouse). This is (or was at October 2007) a very nice pub with very good beer.