John Harmer ventures north to Jarvis Brook, Crowborough on this part urban, part rural route to find two Local Nature Reserves where spring flora is a botanist’s bonanza. You can also discover how the industrial and agricultural heritage has been transformed

1. If arriving by train or bus, go to the car park off Crowborough Hill almost opposite the rail station. From the car park, follow the tarmac path up across the recreation ground. At the end, cross a road to enter The Ghyll, Local Nature Reserve. Go across the car park (an alternative, if other car park is full), and through a kissing-gate to a useful information board. Bear right downhill to go alongside a wooden fence on the right and cross a footbridge over the ghyll. Ghylls are steep-sided wooded valleys which have been created by streams. Turn left and follow the stream uphill to an earth embankment, with vegetation on it, across the ghyll. This is a pond bay which created a hammer pond to provide water power for this once industrial site.Return about halfway back towards the footbridge and turn left uphill. On coming to another path, bear right and, in a few paces, bear left to follow the steep uphill footpath, crossing another path. Nearing the summit, turn right and follow the footpath into woodland. Soon after the path begins to descend, bear left to emerge onto a minor road.

2. Turn right downhill to cross a railway bridge and continue downhill. Immediately before a ford, turn left on a path leading over a concrete bridge, then back on the road to continue direction uphill. At the main road, turn right along the footway for about 250 yards. At a right-hand bend in the road, cross with care to go up Tubwell Lane. In a short distance is Millbrook Garden Centre and Cafe, if a break is required. Continue uphill to cross a minor road; then follow the byway part of Tubwell Lane for another half mile. Near the end, on the left, is Tubwell Farm; so named because, in bygone days, drinking water was drawn from a well and stored in a large tub for local residents to collect water.

3. At the end of the byway, cross a road to the footway opposite and turn left. Follow this road for over half a mile from where, on higher ground and on a clear day, tops of the South Downs can be seen some 15 miles away. On coming to Owlsbury Oast, once an agricultural building, now a modern residence, bear right at a fingerpost and to the left of a house. Go through a hand-gate with a waymark and follow the waymarked woodland footpath with a pond on the right. Leave through a hand-gate and along the left-hand field edge; then through a gateway and alongside a board fence with a house on the left. Go through another hand-gate to a three-way fingerpost and follow the tarmac drive downhill, ignoring stiles on either side. At the bottom of the hill, go over a footbridge to the left of a more substantial bridge. Continue on driveway uphill past houses and see an interesting date plaque on a stone wall at Walsh Manor.

4. At a road junction, turn right and, in a few paces, cross to go down Luxford Road; then uphill. At a Y-junction, bear right to remain on Luxford Road and go over crossroads to continue direction along the footway. A short distance past Ashdown Primary School on the left, where the road bears left at junction with Kemps Farm Road, continue direction past a Vehicles Prohibited sign to go down a tarmac track. Cross over a bridge and immediately turn right along a tarmac path.

5. At a road, cross and go through a hand-gate into Crowborough Country Park Local Nature Reserve where there is a useful information board. Bear left along the path where there are seats and, at the end, go over a footbridge and through a car

park; then bear

left under a vehicle

height barrier

to a road. Turn left

on the footway uphill

and, at the top,

turn right down

Osborne Hill from

where Rotherfield

Church spire can

be seen on the horizon.

At the bottom

of the hill, turn left

into Windsor Road

to reach the main

road. Turn right

along the footway

downhill to the rail

station or go over

the zebra crossing,

turn right and then

in a short distance,

turn left into the car


lMy thanks go to

Graham Kean of

Wealden District

Council for some

historical information

in this feature.


Five and a quarter miles/two and a half hours.

Public transport:

Trains and buses (228/229, not Sundays) to Crowborough Station.

Timetable information from Traveline: 0871 200 2233 or


Use car park (free) at Jarvis Brook (off B2100), almost opposite Crowborough Rail Station; if full, use on-street parking or The Ghyll Local Nature Reserve car park (off Burdett Road).


A mix of field and woodland paths which may be muddy, if wet, with urban footways and minor roads; one steep climb but no stiles.

Thirsty work:

Millbrook Garden Centre Cafe (between points 2 & 3); also other cafes and restaurants at Jarvis Brook.


OS Explorer 135 and Landranger 188 or 199.

A compass is useful for general direction.