Growing up in the countryside had so many advantages, but it was mundane. As children, we’d find adventure in anything we could until we were older and could escape the boredom in nearby Tunbridge Wells or Brighton.
My walk to school was a short obstacle course dubbed ‘the muddy path’. Even on the brightest days, the path had a perpetual muddy middle for us to avoid in our clean school clothes. Whether it was using makeshift stepping-stones, always placed too far apart, or the border fence to shimmy along the edge, it felt like a morning bootcamp with muddy consequences. By Fridays, we’d be walking straight through, not caring about the squelch in our socks. The alternative was walking out of the cul-de-sac and around a spiralling main road and almost tripling the distance, so this was the only option for sleepy school children without a lift.
I’ve been back recently, and they’ve paved the path. Although it’s a good thing, I feel a strange nostalgia for it.
Crowborough is a large town with a population of over 20,000, so it’s bizarre how much it feels like a village. You simultaneously know everyone and yet still bump into hundreds of strangers on your errands.
Low coronavirus cases in the sleepy town and its surrounding rolling hills, as well as a cheaper housing market made it a better alternative to a London Lockdown.
Crowborough may not have much to do for kids, but those things you can do are more fun for adults on a weekend getaway.
Things to Do
Take a Walk on Ashdown Forest
Crowborough sits in East Sussex adjacent to the famous Ashdown Forest. Just a few miles down the road is Hartfield, home of A. A. Milne and birthplace of Winnie the Pooh; and Ashdown Forest was the inspiration for the one-hundred-acre wood.
The forest is in walking distance and so makes for a lovely afternoon stroll when nothing else is open.
Have a Pint
When the pubs open back up, Crowborough will be spoilt for choice. Despite its size, you can find more pubs in this town than you expect! With twelve places to wet you’re whistle, you’re spoilt for choice. Some of my favourites:
- The Coopers Arms – a small local pub in the more rural part of the town.
- The Crow and Gate – a chain-owned pub but a fantastic menu and a huge beer garden overlooking Ashdown Forest.
- Crowborough Social Club – a members club but a guest pass is cheap and so is the beer!
Shop on the High Street
Crowborough has a forked high street with a variety of local shops, supermarkets and restaurants to satisfy your shopping needs. From Zest, a local favourite gift and nick-nack shop, to Pusanon, the locally owned Thai restaurant; there is enough to spend an afternoon exploring.
Take in the View from Goldsmiths
At the second highest point in East Sussex, Crowborough has a lot of incredible views to offer from all over the town; the best of which come from the local leisure centre grounds.
Goldsmiths is the local name for the Crowborough Leisure Centre, owned by Freedom Leisure and boasts a full-size running track, a variety of sports fields as well as the amazing view across the south east.
Within these grounds is also the Crowborough Beacon, used by towns of Sussex to warn of enemies, and seen for miles. The beacon is ceremoniously lit on Bonfire night and Carnival night.
Hunt the Elusive Ghost
According to local legend, an unusual ghost haunts Walshes Road in Crowborough. A bag of soot is said to chase those who walk down the road at night.
From a newspaper article in 2014:
A blacksmith boasted in one of the village pubs that he was not afraid, and set off up the hill. Mr Firmin said that very soon he was seen running at full speed back down the hill pursued by the bag of soot.
Featured Image: “Crowborough High Street” by Paul Gillett is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/