Ashdown Forest is most famous for its connections to the author AA Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne and his family including his son Christopher Robin (a key inspiration for the Pooh books) lived in a Hartfield Farmhouse, only a short stroll from the edge of Ashdown Forest. A selection of sites – the Enchanted Places – in Ashdown Forest ended up in Milne’s Pooh books including Gills Lap, Pooh Sticks Bridge and the Enchanted Place. Pick up maps and guides for Winnie-the-Pooh walks at the main Forest Centre and head to the enchanting Pooh Corner shop in Hartfield with gift shop selling a range of Pooh gifts plus a tearoom. Visit their website for a fantastic Pooh Country Tour.
The Ashdown Forest landscape and particular features such as Five Hundred Acre Wood (100 Aker Wood in the Pooh books) and Gills Lap (Galleons Leap in the books) inspired Milne to write the Winnie-the-Pooh books which remain famous worldwide today. AA.Milne’s very first Pooh book ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ was published in 1926 followed by three Pooh books all with enchanting illustrations by artist E.H.Shepard who can be equally credited with establishing Winnie-the-Pooh as a children’s classic by creating some of the most memorable character illustrations to appear in children’s books. Walt Disney later bought the rights to the books and created the animated film. The Winnie-the-Pooh books have been translated into numerous languages.
AA Milne Biography
A.A.Milne (Alan Alexander) is one of Britain’s great authors of children’s books. Born in London in 1882, Milne wrote extensively for newspapers and journals, including Punch, prior to turning his hand to children’s books. He was a pacifist during the First World War, but enlisted and found himself at the Somme in 1916. He caught a fever however and was sent home. Milne had one son, Christopher Robin who remained distant from his father through much of his life having been teased in his school days.
Origins of Winnie-the-Pooh
The name of Winnie-the-Pooh is believed to be derived from a Canadian bear called Winnie who ended up at London Zoo. A famous photograph from 1921 depicting Christopher Robin with Winnie the bear at London Zoo can be seen in the illustrated guide of Ashdown Forest available in the Forest Centre.
The Forest Centre at Wych Cross off the A22 is your first port of call for picking up maps and leaflet guides to Pooh walks and landmark sites from Pooh Sticks Bridge to Galleons Leap. Memorials to AA Milne and the illustrator EH. Shepard are also at Gills Lap and Pooh Sticks Bridge which features in the Pooh book ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ sits around one mile from the Pooh car park just off the B2026 road running through the heart of Ashdown Forest near Chuck Hatch. Alternatively you can take longer walks to Pooh Sticks Bridge from many of the other Ashdown Forest Car Parks including Gills Lap, Wren’s Warren, Quarry and Piglets Car parks.