Much of the woodland covering large areas of the High Weald is in private ownership with restricted public access. So, it was good to learn last year that the Woodland Trust had acquired the 647-acre area of Brede High Woods, to the north and east of Battle, following a successful public appeal for £3 million.

As well as protecting a wide variety of wildlife habitats, the Woodland Trust has established a car park and a network of paths within the area and much of today’s walk by Ben Perkins lies within this beautiful and varied woodland.

1 From the entrance to the Brede High Woods car park, with your back to the road, go ahead, squeezing through a gap to the right of a metal gate, to follow a wide woodland track, soon ignoring a left fork and a subsequent turning to the left.

Shortly, at a finger post, fork left and, after a few yards, turn left again. At a small clearing where there is a nicely carved wooden memorial seat, turn right along a crossing track.

The woods around you were once the source of charcoal for the local iron-smelting industry and later was in the hands of Hastings Corporation and Southern Water as part of the catchment for Powdermill Reservoir.

They are now under restoration into a superb patchwork of ancient woodland, chestnut coppice and, following the removal of modern conifer plantations, enclaves of heathland Ignoring side paths, head southwards, crossing two major footbridges in fairly quick succession. Climb steps and go ahead on a path which follows power lines for about a quarter of a mile out to a lane. Turn left and immediately right.

2 After another quarter of a mile or so, turn right over a log barrier blocking a gap in the hedge and then head half-right across a large arable field where a path should be defined through any growing crop.

Walk across a shallow dip, passing immediately to the left of the end of an uncultivated peninsula protruding into the field from the right.

Continue across the field and over a makeshift stile in the far field corner.

A narrow path now winds through woodland, overgrown in places, taking you out to join a lane through a gap to the left of a locked gate. Turn left.

3 After a little more than 200 yards, a few yards after passing the main entrance to Powdermill Reservoir on your right, turn right over a stile to follow a clear, partially waymarked woodland path.

After the best part of a mile, at a fingerpost, follow the signed footpath to the left, over two modest plank bridges and on along a path with a stream and the left edge of the woodland on your left.

4 At a T-junction with a wider path, the only point on this section of the walk which, at the time of writing, was not clearly signposted, turn left. After a little more than 100 yards, at another T-junction, where there is a three-armed sign, turn right, uphill.

At a signed Y-junction, fork right and, after 50 yards, fork left and, immediately, left again, still well signed, to follow a clear path out to the B2089 road.

5 Turn left and, shortly right along Ellenwhorne Lane. After a little under 200 yards, fork left across a patch of waste ground, past a fixed gate and uphill along a left field-edge.

In the field corner, go through an iron gate and maintain direction, now with a fence on your right. A few yards short of the top field corner, turn right over a stile and head squarely across a field to another stile.

A path continues within the left edge of woodland. After leaving the wood, turn right along the wood edge. In the corner of this small field, go through a gate and bear half-left across another field to join a lane over a stile beside a gate.

6 Turn left and, after a few yards, go right over a stile next to a post box. Now go forward along a woodland path. At a meeting of four ways, turn right to follow a wide uphill track. Disregarding a path up to the left, carry on up to join the B2089 over a stile to the right of a gate.

7 For a direct and easy return to the start, turn left beside the road. For a more tricky but much preferable route within Brede High Woods, cross the road and follow the path squarely ahead which starts through a gap beside a gate.

After 60 yards, turn left along a clear path which runs parallel to the road you have just left and then curves right.

After about 200 yards, turn left and, at a T-junction turn right for ten yards, then left.

At a second T-junction, go right and, after 60 yards, fork left along a narrower path, which winds through old sweet chestnut coppice and brings you back to the car park and the start.

  • For more information about the Woodland Trust, visit, then search for and download their Brede High Woods map, which indicates the boundary of the site but, regrettably, provides no details of the path network through and within the area.
  • DISTANCE/TIME: Five and a half miles, taking two and a half hours.
  • BY CAR: Park in the Brede High Woods car park on the south side of the B2089 road between Cripps Corner and Broad Oak at GR 804206.
  • BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: None convenient.
  • WHAT’S UNDERFOOT: The described route uses mostly official rights of way but, beyond point seven, also follows permissive paths established by the Woodland Trust. The public footpaths are reasonably well signed, but it is fairly easy to go astray along alternative unmarked paths.
  • THIRSTY WORK: No refreshments en route.
  • SO YOU DON’T GET LOST: OS Explorer map124 and a compass for general direction.