Friezland Wood

Size: 7.69 ha (19.00 acres)
Near: Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Grid ref: TQ562383
OS map sheets: OS Landranger 188, Explorer 135, Explorer 147

About this wood

Small but packed with interest, Friezland Wood on the Kent-East Sussex border is something of a British rarity, thanks to the unusual rock formations on its western side. Rising out of the highest cliffs of the Weald, the Ardingly Sandstone rock formations are so unusual they have earned part of the site SSSI status and nurtured a rich mixture of lichens, ferns and bryophytes.

Set on a steep north-facing slope, the site has three distinct sections: its upper slopes feature oak, ash, alder and birch with an abundance of wood anemones, bluebells and some bramble. The vertical rocks support yew, sessile oak and holly, with a flatter area supporting a stand of alder with nettles, buttercups and celandines.

Popular with local people, Friezland has a good network of paths though some can get muddy and waterlogged in winter.

The remains of a hill fort, dating back to 150 – 50BC survives a short distance from the southwest boundary of this ancient woodland.

Hargate Forest

Size: 61.7 ha (152.46 acres)
Near: Tunbridge Wells, East Sussex
Grid ref: TQ574370
OS map sheets: OS Landranger 188, Explorer 135

About this wood

Set just south of Tunbridge Wells is big, broad and beautiful Hargate Forest – perfect for those “getting away to the country”. Part of the heavily wooded High Weald, the mixed woodland site supports an abundance of butterflies not often found in the region and a rich bird population. It is popular with people too!

Hargate has a good track, ride and path network where you can complete a circular walk but some sections can get muddy.

Set on sloping land, there are extensive views from the regenerating heathland areas and a brook flows through its southern section. The Woodland Trust has created ponds throughout the site.

The old forest, in the south, has the real feel of ancient woodland and boasts some fine old beech trees. Look out for lily of the valley – rare in the region.

Work is ongoing to thin conifers and control rhododendron, encouraging regeneration of native trees and boosting biodiversity.