Forest Way Country Park
Forest Way Country Park
The Forest Way is situated in the heart of the beautiful East Sussex countryside. It is approximately 10 miles long and is used for walking, cycling, horse riding and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside. It runs from East Grinstead to Groombridge.
What you will find
The Forest Way runs along an old railway line and is an important habitat for wildlife as a ‘green corridor’.
There are seats and picnic benches along the entire route. West of Hartfield, a restored pond has been allowed to naturally regenerate. On a hot summer’s day, the area buzzes with life, and visitors will be treated to damsel and dragonflies dancing about the water, glimpses of newts, toads and frogs, and an abundance of bird song.
The Park lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passes through or close to East Grinstead, Forest Row, Hartfield, Withyham and Groombridge. There are circular trails varying in length and difficulty. Walkers may spot swallows, badger tracks deer and foxes, amongst the fields and woodlands.
There are toilet facilities at Forest Row. The Forest Way is accessible for people with disabilities.
Walking, cycling and access
The site is easily accessed by all users. The western end of the Forest Way links up with the Worth Way which extends to Three Bridges.
A flat, surfaced track runs along the entire length of the Park, providing easy access for disabled users and a great place for young children to learn to cycle in a traffic-free environment.
Cyclists are welcome to use the park, but are asked to pay particular attention to other users, making sure that horse riders and walkers are given plenty of warning of their approach.
Dogs are welcome on site, but owners are requested to clear up after their dogs.
How to get there
The map references for the site are:
- TQ402 376 (Herontye Drive, East Grinstead) to
- TQ528 365 (Corseley Road, Groombridge)
Forest Row, Hartfield, Withyham and Groombridge are served by regular bus services. There are train stations at East Grinstead and Eridge.
For more information about getting here, see our, public transport pages.
Management and history
The railway opened in 1866. Although a busy commuter line, it was axed with the Beeching cuts in 1966. Ironically, Dr Beeching lived near Forest Row and regularly travelled up to London on the line when he was Chairman of British Rail.
East Sussex County Council bought the line in 1971 and it was designated as a Country Park in 1974. In 2002, following improvements to the surfaced track Forest Way became part of the National Cycle Network.
The Park is owned by East Sussex County Council and managed by the Rights of Way & Countryside Maintenance team.
Work has recently been carried out to remove potentially dangerous ash trees from the Forest Way and Cuckoo Trail. They are infected with a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, known as Ash dieback. This weakens them and means they are more susceptible to dropping limbs or rotting at the base.
Some trees have been reduced to provide dead wood, a fantastic habitat for invertebrates. This will in turn provide food for birds and mammals. The log piles created will also provide great habitats for wildlife. We ask that these are left in situ.
Where it is safe to do so, diseased trees have been left and are being monitored. We hope that they have some resistance and can provide the next generation of ash trees.
The open rides created by clearing trees will in due course recover. More light loving species will fill the gaps, and ultimately the next generation of trees. Lighter, open areas have larger invertebrate populations. This will help to increase the overall biodiversity.
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