High Weald

braodwater_site1Introduction: This is a developing RSPB nature reserve, close to Tunbridge Wells. Over a 10 year period that commenced in 2010, over 100ha of heathland habitat is being restored from conifer plantations established on the site in the 20th century. Heather is already re-establishing and heathland birds such as the nightjar returning.

Location: 3m south-west of Tunbridge Wells, accessed from Broadwater Forest Lane.

What can I do? Explore the reserve on the extensive network of surfaced and unsurfaced paths, including 700m of all-ability path for buggies and wheelchairs. You can see a variety of birds, butterflies and rare plants on a visit or you can follow the fascinating historical trail and learn how the site was used in the past for farming rabbits, shooting ducks and military target practice. Enjoy a guided walk or other activity from the site's events programme.

What can I see? A mosaic of open heathland and ancient woodland with rare woodland mires and forest ponds. At certain times of year the ponds are deep orange due to the iron deposits in the soil. Star bird species include Lesser Redpoll in winter and 'roding' Woodcock at dusk during summer evenings.

What can I hear? Rare birds such as nightjars churring in the late summer evening sky and a variety of woodland birds including woodpeckers and nuthatches singing in the woodland in the spring.

Information available: A nature reserve leaflet includes a handy map and a history trail leaflet help you to explore the history of Broadwater Warren.

broadwater_history_trailGrid reference: TQ554372(OS Map)
OS Map:
135 (Explorer, 1:25,000)
Opening times:
open 7am - 7pm or dusk if earlier.
Prices: Free
Dogs allowed: Yes but owners are asked to keep them on a lead and to use the bins provided to dispose of mess.

Terrain: There are some steep sections on the nature trail and in winter it can get muddy in places.  The first 200 metres have a hard surface suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.  The next 500 metres are flat and lead to the slope overlooking the pond.

Nearest train station: Eridge, (mainline) 2.4 miles
High Rocks Halt (Spa Valley Steam Railway) 0.7 mile. Visit Spa Valley Railway for Tunbridge Wells to High Rocks Halt timetable and connections to mainline at Eridge.

Nearest NCN route: Route 21 is 1.9 miles

Where can I park? Large car park,with brown tourist signage, on north boundary of reserve on Broadwater Forest Lane.

Where can I get further information? RSPB website
Broadwater Warren was a site of open, partially wooded heath for many hundreds of years, and was formerly one of the four great medieval hunting forests of the High Weald. It is only after the First World War that the site was extensively planted with conifers for timber. The RSPB purchased the reserve in the mid-2000's and is restoring the site to a mix of heathland and ancient woodland over a 10 year period up to 2018.

broadwater_enhancementsSite enhancements 2009 - 2012

In the autumn of 2009, the first of a series of major conifer clearances was undertaken at Broadwater Warren, to start the recreation of heathland from the gloomy, unmanaged conifer plantations. Once cleared, each area is allowed to naturally regenerate from the heather seedbank in the soil. Fencing and the introduction of grazing animals on the regenerating heaths has also been carried out.

Especially on the southern margins of the site, the relict ancient woodland has been cleared of invasive rhododendron.

Access has been enhanced through the creation of a surfaced all-ability trail from the car park; the installation of boardwalks to allow access through the stunning valley mire area; and the creation of a waymarked nature trail around the site.

A broad range of Interpretation was also carried out to enable the increasing visitor numbers to find out more about the site, its wildlife and history. A self-guided historical trail was created in conjunction with a consultant archaeologist, and the use of a LiDAR survey, undertaken by another project in the Weald Forest Ridge LPS, was central to this work.

Additionally, numerous site interpretation boards were installed and impart key information about the site and enhance the visitor experience.

 WFR-logo The 2009 - 2012 site enhancements were funded by the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.