The Ashdown Forest

/The Ashdown Forest
The Ashdown Forest 2018-07-01T14:39:11+00:00


Who are the Friends of Ashdown Forest?

Anyone interested in the conservation of this beautiful place should become a Friend. Many also become volunteers and help in a practical way with the conservation work.

Support from the Friends has enabled the Conservators to buy back parcels of land to add back to the Forest and also to contribute to the on-going programme of capital expenditure such as the purchase of vehicles, radio systems and other equipment which help maintain this unique and marvellous place.

The Friends also run a programme of talks, meetings and walks to encourage conservation and the peaceful enjoyment of the Forest and, through “Ashdown Forest News”, which is free to Friends, cover issues of current and future importance acting as a strong influence against thrests to the environmant such as planning proposals which could affect the Forest.

So PLEASE become a Friend of Ashdown Forest TODAY and help us in the on-going work to protect this very special place. A monthly donation of as little as £2 is all it takes to help us continue this unique and valuable work and you will know that you are making a direct contribution toward the conservation of this priceless inheritance.

Pick up an application form today at The Forest Centre, Ridge Road, Wych Cross RH18 5JP or visit


Whether we live in Fairwarp or are visiting the Ashdown Forest, we will often encounter horses and their riders. Sadly, there are a number of accidents that involve riders every year often causing serious injury. Please take a few moments to read the following safety guidelines and perhaps we can reduce the risk of more accidents in the future.


The sheep and cattle are out grazing on the Forest and in enclosures protected by electric fencing.

There are notices posted on all gates that say, ‘Please ensure all gates are closed. Dogs must be kept under proper control at all times. If a dog is seen attacking or chasing livestock it could be shot. If you see any problems please ring the Forest Centre straight away. “Thank You”

During office hours the Forest Centre can be contacted on 01342 823583 or out of hours 01342 822846


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 meters 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 as even the best trained dog may become unresponsive.

Never, ever, let your dog chase sheep!

The most friendly and placid of dogs can become a killer once instinct takes over and the chase is on. Dogs can easily kill sheep or inflict appalling injuries on them. Even if your dog does not catch or bite the stress of being chased can be catastrophic. Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs; sheep can panic and run into fences at speed resulting in broken necks. A farmer can legally shoot a dog worrying livestock – it’s really not worth the risk – so protect your dog, and your peace of mind, by keeping it on a lead near livestock

  • Cows may see your dog as a threat, even if it is not. They may act defensively, especially if they have calves to protect. The National

  • Farmers Union have issued the following advice to walkers:

  • Try not to get between cows and their calves

  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence especially if you have a dog with you

  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd

  • Keep your dog under close and effective control

  • Don’t hang on to your dog. If you are threatened by cattle, let go of the lead as the cattle will chase the dog

  • Don’t put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle

  • Don’t panic or run! Most cattle will stop before they reach you

  • If they follow just walk on quietly

  • Remember people have been killed by cows in the last few years!

The rangers and estate team are now making regular patrols of the grazing area after four sheep were killed recently. If you see dogs chasing, attacking or worrying sheep in the grazing area please call the office on 01342 283583 and let us know.

Approx. 34 Hebridean sheep will be grazing, within electric fencing, in the area known as Jumpers Town (below the Enchanted Place near Gills Lap). There will be grazing warning signs posted in the two nearest car parks – Warren and Dumpys. Signs will also be posted along the major fire breaks used by horses and as many of the smaller paths (made by people) as we can manage. Please keep your dogs under control or, if you are unsure, on a lead when approaching the flock. If you would like to know more about the grazing project visit our website: The location is fairly remote and not easy to access – a location map can be found

If you need to get in touch on a routine matter or if you need a Ranger in an emergency the number is: 01342 823583 – this number is active Monday to Friday 9-5. If you call the routine number out of hours you will get an answer phone message giving you the emergency number which is: 01342 822846. Please do not store the Ranger’s mobile numbers on your phones as they are frequently called on their days off and when on holiday (including when half way up Snowden!).


We estimate that there are about 500 deer collisions with vehicles each year in and around Ashdown Forest. This number is rising every year. If you hit a deer whilst driving in the area, please take the following steps:

  • Stop your vehicle, safely, as close as possible to where the accident occurred.

  • Put on your hazard warning lights.

  • Wear ‘high-vis’ clothing if you leave your vehicle on the highway.

  • Try to remain calm – especially when calling for assistance.

Who to call for assistance

  • If the deer is blocking the road and is causing an obstruction or is a danger to traffic call 999 and ask for the Police

  • If the deer is at the side of the road and you are unsure if you are on Ashdown Forest call the Police on the non-emergency number 101 and they will arrange a Deer Warden to assist you

If you know you are on Ashdown Forest call 01342 822846 (please note -one week in four there is no evening/night time deer cover and a recorded message will ask you to call the police)

If you are NOT on Ashdown Forest call the Police on the non-emergency number 101 and they will arrange a Deer Warden to assist you.

Give the Police / Forest Ranger / Deer Warden / Police Call Centre as much detailed information as possible about your location (and a mobile number if you have one) – it is often very difficult for us to find an injured animal if the directions are not very specific, especially at night.

Approaching the animal may cause it more stress, but covering its head (not the body) with a blanket can help calm it. Animals in distress can thrash about so keep clear of antlers and hooves which can inflict painful injuries.

If you decide not to approach the animal keep an eye on it to see if it moves off, what its injuries are, and where it moves to.

Please wait until the Police, Forest Ranger or Deer Warden arrives at the scene.

When the Police, Forest Ranger or Deer Warden arrives please help them by doing what they ask.


A few facts:

  • There are over 3 million horse riders in the UK

  • There are around 8 road accidents involving horses every day

  • An average of 16 riders are killed each year

  • The majority of accidents with horses happen on minor roads

While these facts may be simple to read, they include stories of both human and animal misery. This misery can be avoided by better education of both drivers and riders.

The driver

Lets face it… Horses can sometimes seem like a bit of a nuisance when you are in a hurry to get the kids from school, make it to an important meeting or simply going for a drive.

Even though you might sometimes feel this way, horses have as much right to the road as drivers… After all, they came first!

In an ideal world, riders would prefer to ride on bridle ways and tracks well away from roads all the time, but it’s often necessary to use roads to gain access to these tracks. With this in mind, it makes sense to share the roads safely – a horse might delay you for a couple of minutes, but an accident can delay you for hours, months or years.

Understanding horses

If you have a dog, you will understand that animals do not always behave in the way you would like them to, no matter how well trained. A major difference between horses and dogs is that horses are much, much bigger and 100′s of times stronger!

Another difference is that horses are often quite nervous, if they get frightened they will try to escape from whatever it is that worries them. This might be your car, or any movement or object at the side of the road… Litter blowing in the wind, road signs, trees or anything at all.

Horses take exception to the strangest things. There ability to twist their ears also warns them of dangers. Just because you are in a position where the horse can see you it doesn’t mean that it will be happy with your presence.

Single (monocular) vision makes it difficult for horses to measure absolute speed and position of things around them. This makes it common for horses to overreact to things behind them and beside them.

Understanding riders

Because horses are not as controllable as motor vehicles, their riders sometimes follow different rules. You have to watch out for signals from the rider and act sensibly when you see them.

Riders will usually use signals similar to the arm signals for drivers illustrated in the Highway Code.

Riders will normally keep left, even when turning right – horses would be very nervous with traffic on both sides.

Although riders are advised to travel in single file, there may be times when it is safer for them to ride double. This could be because one of the horses, or riders, is unused to the road or is nervous. It’s understandable that sometimes riders (like cyclists) ride two abreast in order to force traffic to slow down – this should never be necessary in an ideal world, but unfortunately some drivers seem to have no comprehension of the danger.

You might occasionally be held up by horses and feel a little frustrated with the riders. You might come across some riders who are not well informed and who ride carelessly (as you will encounter careless drivers). But remember this… A horse on your bonnet will write off your car; a horse bolting can cause multiple vehicle accidents. A frightened horse can also write off you and your loved ones. You don’t have the right to drive like an idiot just because a rider is being irresponsible!

Take positive action

The most sensible course of action when dealing with any livestock is to give a wide berth and drive slowly. Although you should always be cautious, special care should be taken when passing horses ridden by children.

The following guidelines are published by the British Horse Society

  • Watch out for horses being led or ridden on the road.

  • Take extra care at left-hand bends and on narrow country roads.

  • Drive slowly past horses.

  • Give horses plenty of room and be ready to stop.

  • Do not scare animals by sounding your horn or revving your engine.

  • Look out for horse riders’ signals and be aware that they may not move to the centre of the road prior to turning right.

  • Riders of horses and ponies are often children – so take extra care.

  • Treat horses as a potential hazard and expect the unexpected!

From Smart Driving.

Riders on narrow bendy country lanes will sometimes ride in the centre of the road to allow oncoming drivers to see them clearly and give time to slow down.

Riders should always thank drivers for their kindness, however, sometimes it is difficult to keep a horse under control and let go of a rein, a nod is all that is possible, however, riders are always very grateful to considerate drivers.