Forest Row Walk
by Robert Veitch
To mark Remembrance Sunday we sent Robert Veitch to trek the footpaths of Forest Row and find the little known plaque to fighter pilot John Crossman
Leaving the car park on Lower Road wearing seasonal footwear, turn left and wander along Station Road. Once over the River Medway, keep going until the very end of the road veering left into a car park. Turn right, across the Forest Way, taking the footpath opposite and to the right of the pumping station.
Once through the glade the path enters a field of free-range pigs (don’t worry they’re fenced in). Follow the left side of the eld to the gates at the end. Take the small gate on the left by the sign for the Vanguard Way.
The path feels like a droveway, although the scenery appears at times to be from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Two railway sleepers form a small footbridge 50m before metal 7-bar gates appear to the left and the right. Look over the gate on the right, down in to the bottom of the valley.
It’s not visible from the gate, but there’s a memorial in the valley to Australian born John Crossman who was killed on the 30th September 1940 during the Battle of Britain. Crossman’s RAF Hurricane had been engaged in a dog fight with a Messerschmitt 109. He was 22.
Back on the path, steering clear of tree roots, ruts and squirrels, keep going until the holly bushes indicate the summit. Things level off and the path smoothes out all the way to the telegraph pole at the junction. Turn left onto Cansiron Lane and follow the loosely surfaced track, which evolves into tarmac after 100m.
After 1/3rd of a mile, there are ‘Private Road’ signs on the right. Opposite them, by a pair of brick gateposts, the fingerpost indicates the route south, between the houses. An iron fence borders the path and although narrow at first, it widens as it drops downhill, eventually opening to a glorious view of Ashdown Forest. Once over the stile, walk between the fences, past the fifteen oaks (you might count them differently!) to another stile. A third stile precedes power lines overhead. Hug the left side of the field towards the water trough and another stile. Head steeply downhill, albeit briefly, before turning left at the end of the fence. Follow the path to the drive, through the yard, all the way to the A22.
Turn left and amble 100m to the traffic lights, which offer the safest crossing of the road. Then it’s up the ramp to the Forest Way, the old railway line. It’s easy to imagine the days of steam and the 5:15pm from Three Bridges to Royal Tunbridge Wells braking for Forest Row station. A gap in the vegetation opens up at Guy William Davidson’s bench, which is a pleasant place to pause and contemplate.
At Brambletye Crossing, turn left onto the immaculate surface of Brambletye Lane, sauntering downhill for 1⁄4 mile to the ruins of the 17th century Brambletye House. There is no public access so soak it up from afar. 100m further on, turn left as the road bears right.
Walk alongside the fence, before the path chicanes left and right. Once over the River Medway turn left, passing through the kissing gate. Follow the path, running parallel to the river until a stile appears. Stride across the field, towards the partially timber framed house and two stiles in unison. Atop the greenway turn sharp left. Then it’s over the stile and right, over the stile, across the track and over a third stile. Follow the left side of the eld under the telephone lines to the final stile of the day.
On the other side take the left hand fork, between decaying undergrowth, then over the stream to the pebble path, meandering through S-bends back to civilisation. Walk through the rear of Kennard Court, up two sets of steps into the centre of Forest Row.
Turn right and cross the main road safely. To the left of the mini roundabout is Freshfield Hall and on its’ perimeter wall is a plaque dedicated to John Crossman. From here, walk down Hartfield Road, full circle back to the car park.
Distance: 4 miles
Walk Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 135
Refreshments: Available in Forest Row
Buses: #261 Uckfield to East Grinstead / #270 East Grinstead to Brighton / #291 Crawley to Tunbridge Wells
Parking: Free parking in Lower Road Car Park
Robert has tested the route personally, making sure it is suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email email@example.com