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Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB
Travel Guides

Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

16th September 2022

The South Downs National Park may be the most well known stretch of scenic countryside in the South East of England, but the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty gives it a run for its money when it comes to beautiful countryside and historic significance.

Sitting at the heart of the South East and stretching across Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, High Weald is one of the best-surviving medieval landscapes in Northern Europe. Criss-crossed by sunken droveways, this landscape was once the nation’s main iron-producing region during both the Roman and Tudor periods.

Once the most densely wooded area of England, the High Weald now boasts the largest proportion of ancient woodland in the country. But it’s not all trees, the area also offers up gorgeous meadows, heathland, and orchards; idyllic rolling hills dotted with sandstone outcrops; a tapestry of fields and farmsteads; and some truly charming, quaint villages.

If you and your loved ones are looking for a holiday destination in the South East, then you may want to give High Weald a thought. Take a look at some of our favourite things to do in the area below…

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Where should you go?

Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

Ashdown Forest - start with the classics!

Ashdown Forest image courtesy of Tom Lee via Flickr Creative Commons.

OK, so it’s not a hidden gem - lots of people have heard of the Ashdown Forest. But if you’re visiting the High Weald, it shouldn’t be overlooked. This giant area of woodland is teeming with wildlife and is home to some of Britain’s rarest bird species including the nightjar and the Dartford warbler.

It’s also home to loveable bear Winnie-the-Pooh! Retrace this iconic character’s steps and stumble upon idyllic streams (great for a game of Pooh-Sticks), picturesque openings, and some charming picnic spots.
Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

1066 Walk - A historian’s dream

The High Weald is an area of great historical significance and was the location of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Be sure to wander the 50km of trails that traverse the floodplains of the River Rother and Cuckmere.

This route is a must for history lovers, offering you the chance to follow in the steps of William the Conqueror, taking in a vast array of historical sites as you go. Walk through ancient towns and villages, cross hillsides, and meander through woods as you make your way from the Normans’ landing point at Pevensey to the site of the famous battle! Pevensey Castle and the wonderful Herstmonceux Castle are also worth a visit.
Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

Sheffield Forest - Spot some of Britain’s rarest birds

Ashdown Forest image courtesy of Tim Parkinson via Flickr Creative Commons.

If you’ve visited the Ashdown Forest but haven’t had your fill of pretty woodlands, then we’d highly recommend the peaceful and idyllic Sheffield Forest. Situated on the borders of East and West Sussex, this is another haven for wildlife, so be sure to gaze up at the tops of trees and spot crossbills eating pinecones as buzzards soar overhead.

The forest also offers yet more historical nibbles, with archaeological evidence displaying the after-effects of centuries of iron smelting and timber production. The remains of the area’s industrial history are abundant, so keep your eyes peeled for sunken route-ways and ancient hearths.
Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

Eridge Rocks - Hidden gem of ancient woods and sandstone outcrops

If it’s giant rocks you like, then you really should give Eridge Rocks a visit. This majestic sandstone rock outcrop sits in mixed woodland and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the plant community in the area.

Wander among the giant boulders, some of which are over 10 metres high and explore the shaded nooks and crannies of this ancient beech and yew tree wood.
Coolstays guide to the High Weald AONB

Bewl Water - A great family-friendly day out

Bewl Water image courtesy of Alexander Baxevanis via Flickr Creative Commons.

Visitors to the High Weald should also visit Bewl Water, a picturesque reservoir that’s great for fishing and watersports making it particularly popular for families with kids! There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor and indoor activities for people of all ages, as well as some great eating spots.

Top Coolstays in near the High Weald AONB

Eastwood Observatory

Herstmonceux - East Sussex

Sleeps 24

Architecturally extraordinary 12 bedroom mansion in stunning rural grounds with tennis courts, a pool and a hot tub.

Fair Oak Farm

Mayfield - East Sussex

Sleeps 32

Award-winning Fair Oak Farm, on a private 12-acre estate in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the ultimate country retreat

New House Farm Country Retreat

Etchingham - East Sussex

Sleeps 2-42

Luxurious estate in the heart of the Sussex countryside with pool, hot tub and valley views.

Woodlanders Cottage

Near Crawley - West Sussex

Sleeps 10

Beautiful 17th century grade II listed thatched cottage with a large country kitchen, rustic décor and inglenook fire in Crawley, West Sussex.

Hoots Treehouse

Mayfield - East Sussex

Sleeps 4

A secluded, picture-perfect, luxury treehouse nestling in an area of outstanding natural beauty with so much to explore nearby.

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