Introduction: A quiet woodland site owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, Sheffield Forest is a haven for wildlife and contains a wealth of archaeological evidence highlighting centuries of site management for iron smelting and timber production. Well worth a visit and explore!
Location: Between Horsted Keynes and Nutley, on the borders of East and West Sussex.
What can I do? Explore the wooded and heathland tracks. Look out for the remains of this forest's industrial history reflected in its numerous sunken routeways, charcoal hearths and sawpits.
What can I see? A variety of woodland birds such as buzzards soaring overhead. Watch hobbies chasing swifts above the heathland.
What can I hear? Crossbills in the tops of pine trees eating pinecones. Nightjars churring on summer evenings.
Information available: A pdf site interpretation board (2.78 MB) tells the story of Sheffield Forest's industrial past. Read an pdf archaeological survey report (8.05 MB) carried out at Sheffield Forest.
Grid reference: TQ429269(OS Map)
OS map: 135 (Explorer, 1: 25,000)
Opening times: All year
Dogs allowed: Yes
Terrain: Gentle slopes with a good track network
Nearest train station: East Grinstead (mainline) 10 miles
Sheffield Park (Bluebell Railway) 3.5 miles Visit Bluebell Railway for more information about ongoing work to extend to mainline
Nearest NCN route: Route 21 is 6.5 miles
Where can I park? On-road parking limited to a few spaces either side of entrance gateway, on Bell Lane between Nutley and Fletching.
Where can I get further information: Forestry Commission website.
Site Enhancements 2009 - 2012
Open, heathy clearings were created on ride edges by removing conifers, bracken and scrub. The main access tracks around the site were regraded and improved. A welcome board was also installed at the site entrance.
Additionally, two important surveys were conducted. An ecological survey enabled the Forestry Commission to understand more about the flora and fauna of the site, which has shaped subsequent site management decisions.
An in-depth archaeological survey found out fascinating information about the Forest's uses over hundreds of years: with a heavily-managed wood used for timber extraction, quarrying, and charcoal production, often linked to nearby furnaces and forges of the Archaeology of the Wealden Iron Industry. The survey also showed that not all the Forest has always been wooded: with old field names discovered and the remains of a rabbit warren discovered. Use of a LiDAR survey, undertaken by another project in the Weald Forest Ridge LPS, was central to the survey.