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On this bank holiday in early May, we visited Wilderness Wood with our family. A lovely place in the High Weald of England where you can see beautiful bluebells and have a good time with friends in the forest. Here is a short account of our forestry adventures!

 

That day we heard about Wilderness Wood

It is always in children’s playgrounds that you learn interesting things.

Especially when chatting to the mums (or dads!).

One of our acquaintances in Burwash (our village in England) told us about Wilderness Wood, west of Heathfield.

On visiting the woodland’s website, we learned that they were holding an event on May 3rd, a bank holiday in England:

Bank Holiday Monday Pizzas!

11:00 am  3:00 pm

Come and enjoy a woodland walk and a delicious pizza from our wood-fired oven, by Cashew Catering.  Pizzas served from 11am-3pm. No need to book.

The concept was tempting and we agreed that we had to attend.

It would be our first outing of this kind after the successive confinements we had experienced.

So we suggested to our daughter Aimée’s cousins and their parents that we meet there for a day in the woods.

 

Our visit to Wilderness Wood

We arrived at the site’s car park at 11 am and by the time we paid the entrance fee to the forest, we were in the Hub.

The entrance to Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The entrance to Wilderness Wood © French Moments

The friendly person at the reception explained to us where to find the famous bluebells… and above all, advised us to book our pizzas opposite, in the cookhouse, a circular hut topped with a sort of witch’s hat roof.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The hub of the woodland © French Moments

Once the pizzas were scheduled for 12.45 pm, we started the visit with a walk in the forest.

 

The start of the walk

The trail is an approximate one hour walk and is marked with A to Z markers to help you find your way around the estate.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The start of the trail © French Moments

You pass by various wooden structures: work yard, cabins for hire, campsites…

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Discovering wood sculptures © French Moments
Wood structures, East Sussex © French Moments
Wood structure © French Moments
Wood structures, East Sussex © French Moments
Wood structures © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Structures in the wood © French Moments

 

The giant swing

At marker G there is a giant swing that impresses young and old alike. Our daughter wanted to go up there before changing her mind once it was her turn. Bravely, she returned later in the day and overcame her fear by taking a few turns.

The big swing, East Sussex © French Moments
The big swing at marker G © French Moments

The forest estate is crisscrossed with paths that invite you to take a walk.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The romantic landscape of Wilderness Wood © French Moments

 

Off the beaten tracks!

We did not hesitate to leave the main trail to take the minor footpaths. These had some nice surprises in store for us: small wooden bridges, makeshift huts, beautiful trees, bucolic landscapes…

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
On the trail © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Walking on the trail © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Reaching the tall conifers © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
A picturesque bridge © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
On the trail © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
A stunning oak tree © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
A swing in the wood © French Moments
Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The sheltered fire circle for group meeting © French Moments

 

A carpet of bluebells

At marker K, we reached the place I had been waiting to see for a long time: a bed of bluebells.

Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
The season of bluebells © French Moments

I have never seen so many.

Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Thousands of bluebells at the Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
A bed of bluebells in the woodland © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Bluebells in the woodland © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Early may – Bluebells in the woodland © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Bluebells © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
A bed of bluebells! © French Moments

There were also bluebells in other parts of the forest, including a small path off marker V where we saw no walkers.

Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Bluebells near marker V © French Moments

The bluebells formed a beautiful bluish border to the path winding through the woods.

Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
A picturesque path lined with bluebells © French Moments
Bluebells, East Sussex © French Moments
Bluebells lining the path © French Moments

 

Pizza time! without forgetting English wine)!

Once back at the Hub, we sat down at a picnic table in time to enjoy our pizzas.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
This was a happy Pizza Monday! © French Moments

We greatly enjoyed our wood-fired oven pizzas, made on the site by Cashew Catering.  The cost was £8 for a Margherita pizza and 50p a topping (inc halloumi, roasted peppers, caramelised onions, jalapeños, sweetcorn). Gluten-free and vegan pizzas are also available.

Woodfire Pizza © French Moments
Pizza time! © French Moments

The winemakers of Beacon Down Vineyard were also offering their wines. Yes! Wine made in South-East England!

This small family-run vineyard is situated west of Heathfield and produces award-winning still and sparkling white and rosé wines. I hope I’ll have the occasion to take part in a tour of the vineyards soon…

 

A forest not like any other!

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Flowers at Wilderness Wood © French Moments

The French are always surprised when they learn that you have to pay to enter a forest.

That said, Wilderness Wood is not a forest like any other.

The forest covers 60 acres of ancient woodland and is family-owned.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
In the woods © French Moments

 

Activities and Membership

In fact, you can take part in workshops, guided walks, activities throughout the year: tree ID, bee-keeping, wood-carving, songs around the fire, story-telling, floristry and wreath-making and much more…

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
The hub © French Moments

In addition, it is home to a community of members who looks after the woodland while working, playing, eating, sleeping and celebrating in the wood on a great number of occasions.

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
Furniture and wood sculptures for sale! © French Moments

 

Christmas trees

Finally, let’s mention the Christmas trees of Wilderness Wood!

The woodland includes a unique Christmas tree plantation.

For decades, families have been coming to Wilderness Wood for their Christmas Trees. It could be to choose trees either from the field or pre-cut from the festive Christmas courtyard. More info on their website.

 

Find out more!

Wilderness Wood © French Moments
At Wilderness Wood © French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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