All Forest activities are subject to the constraints imposed by the Ashdown Forest Act 1974 and the Byelaws made under the Act. If you are in any doubt or have any questions call the Office of visit the Forest Centre Information Barn.
Where can I walk?
You are entitled to walk anywhere on of the common land of Ashdown Forest at any time. The common land is that area managed by the Conservators. A Forest Map, which can be obtained from the Forest Information Centre (priced £2.50) will help you. There are also a series of free walks leaflets which are available from the Forest Centre or can be downloaded here.
If you don't have a map, it is generally safe to assume that if you walk out from any Forest car-park you will remain on the Forest until you come to a boundary fence. A notable exception is the grazing enclosure fence but it is usually clear that the land on the other side of the fence is a continuation of the common land.
Can I take my dog?
Yes, but it must be under close control and not annoying other Forest users or disturbing or chasing animals/birds. Please consult the Dog Walkers Code of Conduct.
If you wish to walk dogs commercially on Ashdown Forest you will require a licence that has an annual charge of £100.00 and must be renewed each year on 1st April. More information can be found here.
In England, the public have open access to 3,269 sq miles where most activities can take place. However, there are special rules for dog walkers which require dogs be kept on a lead of no more than 2 metres long between 1st March and 31st July - the main breeding period for ground-nesting birds or at any time of the year near livestock. Leads are specified - even the best trained dog may become unresponsive. Please visit our dog walking page for lots of information about walking on Ashdown Forest.
Where can I park?
You may park in any of the 40+ designated car-parks scattered around the Forest. No vehicles may be parked on the Forest after midnight. Please make sure you lock your car and take any valuables with you, break ins are sadly very common.
West Chase car parks - Churlwood, Goat, Hindleap, Long, Millbrook East & West, Pippingford, Reservoir, Trees, Twyford, and Vachery.
East Chase car parks - Black Hill, Church Hill, Four Counties, Gills Lap, Gills Lap North (summer only), Kings Standing, Piglets, Pines, Pooh, Pylons, Quarry, Shadows, St Johns and Wrens Warren.
South Chase car parks – Box, Bushy Willow, Duddleswell (handy for the tea room), Ellisons Pond, Friends, Gorsey Down, Hollies, Lodge (close by the nature reserve), Poundgate, Roman Road, Shepherds, Smugglers, Stonehill and Waterholes.
North Chase car parks – Broadstone (near the Forest Centre), Dumpys (summer only), Forest Centre, Goat, Lintons, Ridge, Townsends and Warren.
Where can I go with a less able person and are there disabled facilities?
In Kings Standing and Broadstone car parks areas have been set aside for disabled parking (with a post and disabled parking badge). These gravelled areas lead out onto flatter terrain where disabled persons can get a taste of the Forest and see some of the spectacular views. There is a disabled loo at the Forest Centre within the office block and a wheel-chair friendly picnic table.
Many of the Forest rides are not suitable for wheel-chairs due to the bumpy, steep terrain. However, from Long car park there is a long relatively flat section. Fine views can be enjoyed from Ridge and Broadstone car parks.
Where can I get a cup of tea?
There are several places on the Forest - try the Duddleswell Tea-Rooms (dog friendly), the Hybrid Tea at Wych Cross Nurseries, the cafe at the Llama Park, the Ashdown Forest Garden Centre at Duddleswell, or The Ashdown Park Hotel where luxurious cream teas are served. There are also numerous cafes and pubs in Forest Row. There are lots of dog friendly pubs in the area such as The Red Lion at Chelwood Gate, The Hatch Inn at Colemans Hatch, The Blue Anchor just outside Crowborough, The Foresters in Fairwarp, The Roebuck at Wych Cross, The White Hart in Buxted, The Anchor and the Gallipot Inn at Hartfield.
Can I ride my horse on the Forest?
Yes, subject to obtaining a permit from the Office.
Can I lead my horse or a pony on the Forest?
Yes, subject to obtaining a permit from the Office.
Can I drive a carriage, quad bike or other wheeled vehicle on the Forest?
Wheeled vehicles are strictly forbidden by our Bye-laws. One exception is wheelchairs.
Can I ride my mountain-bike over the Forest?
Sorry, no. The Conservators have decided that mountain-biking / off-road biking is an activity incompatible with maintaining the Forest as a quiet and natural area. There is a great deal of opposition from local residents, horse riders, bird watchers and walkers. However there are plenty of places you can ride, for example along the Forest Way cycle route at Forest Row or at Deersleap Park in East Grinstead. There are also trails at PORC - Penshurst Off Road Club, Tilgate Forest in Crawley, Friston Forest towards Eastbourne, The Bull Track at Crowborough, Bedgebury Forest in Kent and Leith Hill Redlands in Surrey. All these sites are easily found online. The Board of Conservators have no control on what takes place on the public roads across the Forest.
Can I camp on the Forest?
Sorry, no. The By-laws prohibit camping due to the problems of fire and litter. Visit the Ashdown Forest Tourism Association for a very full list of camp sites that are close to the Forest.
Can I have a picnic/cooking stove/barbeque?
Picnics are fine and there are picnic tables at the Forest Centre; cooking stoves may be used in car-parks between July and December, when the fire risk tends to be low. Barbeques of all types are prohibited at all times due to the problem of disposal of hot coals - fires are easily caused by sparks and discarded coals.
Can I fly my model aircraft?
Flying of model airplanes is restricted to members the British Model Flying Association who hold a valid membership card. Please have your membership card available for inspection if asked by a Ranger. Flyers without cards and flyers not following the flying rules will be asked to leave the Forest. Flying sites are restricted depending on day, time and wind conditions. Flyers must not fly near or over horse riders (this has caused accidents in the past where horses have become frightended and bolted) or annoy other Forest users. The BMFA Licence containing the flying regulations can be found here. The flying of multi-rotor model aircraft ('drone') is not permitted on the Forest.
Can I play ball games?
Sorry, but our Bye-laws and the Act forbid ball games other than on the designated village recreation grounds.
Can I bring my school group out to the Forest?
School visits are very welcome and are now taught by Education Team rather than Forest Rangers.
Can I organise an orienteering event on the Forest?
All organised events require permission from the Conservators. We work very closely with two major orienteering organisations to ensure that events take place outside of sensitive ground-nesting bird season. Any events that do take place in the winter are on a first-come-first-served basis. Please be aware that gatherings of over 100 persons require the permission of East Sussex County Council. Please contact the Office and we will try to help.
Can I organise a sponsored walk/event on the Forest?
All organised events require permission from the Conservators. Please be aware that gatherings of over 100 persons require the permission of East Sussex County Council. Other than that it very much depends on what you want to do, where you want to do it and when! Please contact the Office and we will try to help.
Can I use my metal detector on the Forest?
Sorry no, the By-laws specifically forbid disturbance of the surface of the soil.
Can I place geocaches on the Forest?
The Forest is now well covered with geocaches and we feel there are sufficient number for people to enjoy. Therefore we are not giving permission for more at the moment.
Can I sell teas/ice-creams/burgers from the Forest car parks?
Sorry no, the only retailing allowed on the Forest is authorised by the Conservators and is limited to ice-creams and hot/cold drinks; the car-park concessions licence tender process is under review (as of 2020) and application forms for 2022 will be available from the website later in 2021.
How can I find out if the cattle and sheep are out?
Cattle and sheep normally go out to graze within the fenced grazing area in early April and would usually come off again by Remembrance Sunday (November). However, this is not always the case! They can also take some time to round up so if you are concerned please check with the Office before setting out. To keep up to date with where the Conservators livestock are current grazing please click here.
The Conservators also has its own flock of Hebridean sheep that could be out grazing anywhere on the Forest within electric fenced enclosures - so please look out for the warning signs and put dogs on leads or change your route. Please let us know if you see anyone disturbing the warning signs or interferring with the livestock in any way.
If you are a regular walker why not join our e-mail service where you will receive updates as to the location of the flock. To join click here
I've seen someone cutting trees down. Is this permitted?
Very possibly. Commoners (people who have Rights of Common over the Forest) have a right of estovers (firewood). You are most likely to see cutting from November to March. Sometimes contractors are cutting on behalf of the Conservators – this is usually associated with heathland restoration work. If you're in any doubt, ring the Office.
Can I use the Forest for still photography? How do I arrange this?
If a photograph is for your own personal, private use, there is no need to contact us. If you do take a particularly nice shot please send us a copy and we may publish it on this website or in one of our magazines / newsletters. Or you could upload it onto our Facebook page. However, if you intend to publish a photograph for any commercial purpose please contact the Office to arrange for written permission and pay the fee. The application form for commerical filming or photography can be found here. The charges for commerical photography are here.
Can I use the Forest for a film shoot? How do I arrange this?
All moving films, for television (for whatever purpose) and cinema or action shots for magazines, require written permission and there is a scale of charges which can be viewed here. Please contact the Office and we will try to help.
How do I pay for an estate agent for sale sign or builders board?
The erection of estate agents 'for sale' signs and builders advertising or direction boards require written permission and there is a fee for using Forest land. Please call the Office to find out if the property is located on Ashdown Forest or if the road side/verge you intend to use is Forest land. An application form is available here. Any boards that do not have permission will be removed and stored at the Forest Centre to await collection.
Can I put a skip or builders material on the Forest?
Householders planning to have a skip or building materials (including portaloos, scaffolding etc) deposited at their property must make every effort to have the skip/materials within the curtilage (boundary) of their property. If it is impossible to do that you must apply for a deposit licence. This allows you to use a section of Forest land (and that includes the access track) for a period of three months. Householders pay a deposit and, once the work is finished and the Forest restored, 90% is returned. Please contact the Office to arrange a deposit licence.