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Size:

261.89 ha (647.13 acres)

Grid reference:

TQ793201

Map reference:

Explorer 125

OS Landranger 199

Brede High Woods is home to astonishingly rare wildlife, diverse habitats and long-forgotten iron works. Roam the network of paths and rides through dense ancient woodland, open grassland and sandy heaths in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Catch a glimpse of the strange eel-like lamprey as they swim up woodland streams, spot the medieval tree-lined bank, or look for some of Britain’s rarest beetles.

Features

  • Parking at site
  • Public access
  • Autumn colour
  • Spring flowers
  • Waymarked walk

How to get to Brede High Woods

Brede High Woods (647 acres) lies on the south-facing slopes of a tributary valley of the River Brede, 9.7km (6 miles) north of Hastings and 8km (5 miles) north-east of Battle. It is located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just south of the B2089, between Cripps Corner and Broad Oak Brede.

From Battle, head north towards Sevenoaks on the A2100 for 4.8km (3 miles), then take the second exit at the roundabout onto the A21 Vinehall Road. After 1.5km (1 mile) turn left towards the B2089 and continue along this road for approximately 5.6km (3.5 miles).

The B2089 Broad Oak to Cripps Corner road runs along the northern edge of Brede.

The nearest train station is at Robertsbridge (9.7km/6 miles from Brede). Hastings (16km/10 miles away) train station is the only one that has a direct bus connection.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The closest bus stop is at Cripps Corner, about 400 metres from the nearest entrance into the wood.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

There are 15 minor entrances into the wood from the surrounding roads and lanes. Most have narrow squeeze gaps.

From the two car parks there are routes into the wood via an all-ability kissing gate (RADAR key required) or steps. Three of the tracks into the wood from the B2089 are surfaced from the entrances, but beyond that most rides and paths are unsurfaced and very prone to waterlogging. Some are also very rutted. Several have grassy surfaces but most are bare soil. There are some moderate gradients leading down towards the reservoir to the south.

From the bus stop in Cripps Corner, follow the pavement east on the B2089, looking out for the Woodland Trust logo on a small squeeze-gap entrance on the other side of the road.

There are two free car parks available at Brede Woods, on the south side of the B2089 Cripps Corner/Broad Oak Brede Road, marked by brown tourist signs.

The nearest public toilets are in Sedlescombe in the public car park off Brede Lane, 6.4km (4 miles) from Brede High Woods. Disabled facilities are available with a RADAR key, but there are no baby changing facilities.

Wildlife and habitats

Brede High Woods is a nature-lovers paradise, with an outstanding reputation for wildlife. Thousands of species rely on the site, from the smallest, rarest of beetles and beautiful butterflies to large mammals, such as deer and badgers.

The mix of ancient and secondary woods, streams, heath and grassland means you can spot wildlife all year round. Carpets of bluebells light up the woods in spring, wild flowers attract butterflies in summer, and vivid autumn leaves – their hues matched on the ground by colourful fungi - last into the winter.

Animals

Brede High Woods is home to an array of threatened, diverse and unusual species. The ponds and streams provide the perfect habitats for water voles and great crested newts, as well as the strange eel-like brook lamprey, while spotted flycatchers can be seen along the woodland edges.

Renowned for its invertebrates, Brede High Woods is the only known UK location of the flea beetle, previously thought to be extinct in the UK. The red data listed flea beetle has also been recorded here.

Bats are often on the wing at dusk during the summer months and if you’re patient and quiet, and you may see smaller creatures, such as weasels. Foxes and badgers are both common, but badgers rarely come out before dark. You may see roe and fallow deer, and there is increasing evidence of the presence of wild boar.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

From carpets of bluebells in spring to purple heather and yellow dwarf gorse in summer, clumps of colourful fungi in autumn and delicate hazel catkins in winter. Brede High Woods is a nature-lover’s paradise.

During the spring, early purple orchids, primroses and violets are among the first flowers to appear, closely followed by perfumed carpets of bluebells. If you’re hoping to admire the full beauty of the bluebells, visit during late April and early May. Another lovely spring flower found in Brede High Woods is the wood anemone, whose white star-like flowers shine in great drifts throughout the deepest, darkest tangle of woods during March and April. Rafters Wood to the south of Reservoir Lane is a great place to see them.

Look out for:

Habitats

Brede High Woods is one of our biggest woods, covering 647 acres, so there’s a lot to explore. The site lies along the south-facing flank of a tributary of the Brede valley and contains a wide range of habitats typical of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The woodland contains a mixture of trees – oak, sweet chestnut, hornbeam birch, alder, holly, aspen and more. Many areas are ancient woodland, having been continuously wooded since at least 1600.There are also more modern plantations of conifer – Sitka spruce, Scot’s and Corsican pine, Douglas fir and larch.

Explore:

History of Brede High Woods

Today, Brede High Woods is a quiet and tranquil place in which to relax and enjoy the trees and wildlife. But this peace belies its industrial and agricultural past. Evidence for these activities can be seen throughout the woodland in the form of pits, mounds, banks, ditches and living trees.

The wood has seen hop farming and iron manufacture. You can still spot hop growing in the wood and archaeological excavations uncovered ironworking dating back to the Roman period.

Archaeological work also found a 17th century farmstead with evidence of livestock management and hop processing. The structure was demolished in the 1930s and lies in the north-eastern part of Brede High Woods.

Wood anemones, Brede High Woods

Credit: Mick House / WTML

Conservation 

The open habitats in Brede High Woods are nationally important because of the rare species they support. One of these is a species of flea beetle that’s found in Holman Wood Field but survives nowhere else in the UK. However, areas of Brede High Woods have been planted with non-native conifers. This impacted the biodiversity and unique habitats at Brede.

We’re working hard at Brede High Woods to protect wildlife and restore threatened habitats. To restore the wood to its former glory, we are gradually removing the conifer trees and have begun the process around biodiversity hotspots, such as streams.

Dedication bench at Watkins Wood

Dedicate at this wood

This wood is one of more than 50 across the UK where it's possible to dedicate trees, benches or larger areas of woodland. Mark a special occasion or celebrate the life of a loved one with a meaningful gesture that lasts. 

Choose a dedication

Things to do in Brede High Woods

Walking

Follow the Brede High Woods Walk and experience the wood in its entirety, taking in the beauty of its eclectic mix of habitats on an impressive 8km (5-mile) or 12km (7.5-mile) ramble.
If you’d prefer a shorter route, there is a short loop from the eastern car park of 1.2km (0.7 miles) which takes 30 minutes to complete. If that isn’t far enough, another option is the slightly longer 2.4km (1.5 mile) walk.

For history buffs, travel back in time and take in the rich past of Brede High Woods on our history trail, where you can find medieval woodbanks, coppiced woodland and the area where the former site of Brede High Farm once stood.

Early purple orchids

A lasting legacy

This wood is just one of many to have been protected by gifts in wills, securing it for generations to come. Your legacy gift could also make a real difference to woods, trees and wildlife.

Learn what your gift could mean
Brede High Woods - Management plan

Download

Brede High Woods Management Plan

PDF  (251 KB)