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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Crowborough Warren, Ashdown Forest & Five Hundred Acre Wood. Plants, Lichen, Bryophytes. 29.04.23

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Every year, more than a million people travel to Ashdown Forest to find the North Pole. Ashdown Forest is 40 miles south of London, but they’re not crazy. In the forest they’ll find the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and somewhere in the Five Hundred Acre Wood is the place where Christopher Robin discovered the North Pole. Five Hundred Acre Wood is the place that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, the magical place in which a fictionalized version of A. A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, had adventures with Winnie the Pooh and friends. Five Hundred Acre Wood – East Sussex, England - Atlas Obscura

To get to 500 Acre Wood by public transport is a bit of a challenge. From Brighton I took the bus 29 (once an hour) to Tunbridge Wells and got off at Warren Camp in Crowborough (90 minutes) 29 - Brighton-Tunbridge Wells | Brighton & Hove Buses; it the takes about an hour to walk to the 500 Acre Wood, through the beautiful scenery of High Weald ghyll woodland and the Ashdown Forest.

From the Warren Camp bus stop I walked a little way north on the A26 (there is a pavement) then turned left (west) onto Warren Road. I continued along Warren Road (an estate of private houses) util the road becomes a foot path. This foot path passes the MOD land of Crowborough Warren and goes through the beautiful ghyll woodland of Greenwood Gate. When this path reached the B2188 I crossed the road and joined the Wealdway which hoes through heathland of Ashdown Forrest and goes through he Five Hundred Acres Wood. At Fisher's Gate I turned onto the path (south east) that joins the B2188 at Friars Gate. A few meters down (south)the B2188 I turned left (south) onto a minor road that leads back into Crowborough where I got the bus back from the central Crowborough 29 stop. There is no pavement for part of this road so care needs to be taken see: General guidance (1 to 6) Rules for pedestrians - THE HIGHWAY CODE (

The photographs are presented chronologically

All sections of text in italics are quotations, sources sited.

I am only an amateur naturalist; thus all identifications are provisional; if you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me. If you want to contact me about any aspect of this blog, email me at simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.

Screen shot from OS App Apps from Ordnance Survey

Island of moss in a ghyll beside the path near Home Farm.

Possibly Waterside Feather Moss, Brachythecium rivulare

Fallen Oak

Probably Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena on fallen oak

Probably Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss, Hypnum cupressiforme on fallen oak

Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata on fallen oak

Bank Haircap Moss, Polytrichum commune on the side of a ditch

Possibly Platyhypnidium riparioides, Long-beaked Water Feathermoss in the ditch

Possibly Shining Hookeria, Hookeria lucens in the ditch

Probably Common Pellia, Pellia epiphylla in the ditch

Horn Calcareous Moss, Mnium hornum in the ditch

Much property in the Weald is private!

One of the most beautiful areas of the ghyll wood in Crowborough I passed is inaccessible as it is used by the MOD for military training; the huts of the military training camp were featured as a location in the Dr Who series The Curse of Fenric. Crowborough Training Camp - The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures ( Training trenches were built during WWI see: Training tunnels at Crowborough - Places & Infrastructure - The Great War (1914-1918) Forum (

A ghyll

Nestled alongside Ashdown Forest with many similar features, this deciduous woodland has little streams running through it and some stunning views of heathland. A large river gushes through a bridge then trickles its crystal clear water over the stones .Crowborough Warren - Woodland Trust

Wood Anemones, Anemone nemorosa, and Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Conocephalum conicum, Common snakeskin liverwort / Great scented liverwort / Common mushroom-headed liverwort

Ghyll, canalised, to serve the Old Mill

Old Mill House on the ghyll in the Warren

The banks of an ancient drover's road?

Common Pellia

Avenue of trees in the private Crowborough Warren Estate

On the banks of the Drover's Road.

Neat Feather-Moss, Pseudoscleropodium purum

Bank Haircap Moss

Dog Violet, Viola riviniana


Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum

Cladonia sp. lichen

Cypress-leaved Plait-moss, Hypnum cupressiforme

Possibly Common Pocket-Moss, Fissidens taxifolius

Wavy Bittercress, Cardamine flexuosa

Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni Butterfly

Wood Sorrel, Gonepteryx rhamni

Covering over 10 square miles, Ashdown Forest is one of the largest open access areas in Southeast England. Situated within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its lowland heathland and deciduous woodland habitats are home to many rare and threatened species. With a rich human history from Kings and commoners to smuggling and industry dating back centuries, Ashdown Forest is also the setting of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Ashdown Forest is owned by the Ashdown Forest Trust and managed by the Conservators of Ashdown Forest. About Us | The Conservators of Ashdown Forest

Two thirds of the Forest are heathland, which provides a wonderful habitat for birds such as the Nightjar which comes all the way from Africa to breed here, and the resident Dartford warbler. The Forest is also home to a wide variety of beautiful butterflies, including the Silver-studded Blue, rare insects and spiders. You’ll see ancient breeds of sheep, cattle and ponies openly grazing, as they have done for centuries. And across the heathland there are Foxes, Rabbits, Stoats, Weasels, Shrews, bats and Badgers. Wildlife | The Conservators of Ashdown Forest

The predominantly open, heathland landscape of Ashdown Forest described so vividly by Cobbett in 1822 and later immortalised by E.H. Shepard in his illustrations for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories is essentially man-made: in the absence of human intervention, heathlands such as Ashdown's are quickly taken over by scrub and trees. Ashdown's heathlands date back to medieval times, and quite possibly earlier.Two elements were important in shaping this landscape: the local population of commoners, who exploited the forest's resources over many centuries; and the iron industry of the forest, which flourished in the 16th century. Ashdown Forest - Wikipedia


Common Greenshield lichen on a pine. The clumps of Scots pine that form such a distinctive, iconic hilltop feature of Ashdown Forest were first planted in 1816 by the Lord of the Manor to provide habitats for black grouse Ashdown Forest - Wikipedia

Possibly Sulphur Dust Lichen, Chrysothrix chlorina

Pine Cone Bug, Gastrodes grossipes

Cleared gorse; bluebells popping through

Yellow Brain, aka Witches Butter, Tremella mesenterica

Scots Pine

Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata on Scots Pine

One of Ashdown Forest's ponds

Pond skater, Gerris lacustris

Lesser Diving-Beetle, Acilius sulcatus

Possibly Pyrrthosporea quernea on pine; seems unlikely but Pyrrthosporea quernea is recorded as an epiphyte of Pinus species in the British Lichen Society spreadsheet of epiphytic lichens

Five Hundred Acre Wood

Five Hundred Acre Wood is famously the inspiration behind Hundred Acre Wood, the setting for AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories. Unlike the rest of Ashdown Forest, which is now heathland, Five Hundred Acre Wood is still a forest, having been replanted and enclosed 300 years ago to protect it from grazing. The trails here make for an enchanting adventure in any season. Five Hundred Acre Wood Routes for Walking and Hiking | Komoot

Clustered Feather-Moss, Rhynchostegium confertum

The Five Hundred Acre Wood is part if the private Buckhurst Estate; with limited public access

This ancient woodland on the edge of the Ashdown Forest is the 'Hundred Acre Wood' of Winnie the Pooh fame. A mixture of conifer stands and deciduous woodland dominated by beech, this is a great place for exploring and somewhere you can let your imagination run wild. The car park near Pooh Bridge is a good base for visiting the woodland. Keep an eye out for deer and watch out for heffalumps... Buckhurst Estate - Woodland Trust

Possibly Ganoderma applanatum, Artist's bracket on beech

Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria

A huge fallen birch makes a home for lichen, bryophytes and fungi (some of which are pathogenic and were probably what killed the tree and resulted in its falling)

Horn Calcareous Moss, Mnium hornum

Probably Split Gill, fungi Schizophyllum commune

Cladonia sp. lichen

Probably Common Script Lichen, Graphis scripta

Fringed Rosette Lichen, Physcia tenella

Possibly Pertusaria pertusa, Pepper-pot Lichen

Elegant Bristle Moss, Orthotrichum pulchellum

Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss, Hypnum cupressiforme

Unidentified lichen

Artist's Bracket, Ganoderma applanatum

Hammered Shield Lichen, Parmelia sulcata

Probably Cladonia coniocraea, Common Powderhorn

Common Pellia, Pellia epiphylla

Possibly Heath Plait-Moss, Hypnum jutlandicum

Possibly Stubby-stalked cladonia, Cladonia caespiticia

Fisher's Gate

Whitewash Lichen, Phlyctis argena

Pertusaria pertusa, Pepper pot lichen

Mossy stumped Elm

Small ghylls wandering through the wood; topical of High Weald ghyll woodland

Dog Violet, Viola riviniana

The liverwort Forked Veilwort, Metzgeria furcata growing on many birches


Another ghyll

Public footpath sign dwarfed by "private" signs

Cuckoo Flower, Cardamine pratensis

Lichens and mosses on the wall of a garden on the road back to Crowborough

Probably Gold Speck Lichen, Candelariella aurella

Lecidea eleachroma

Wall Screw Moss, Tortula muralis



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