Discover Sussex in a Kid-Friendly Winnie the Pooh Family Vacation
When is a walk in the woods more than just a walk in the woods? When you’re in the magical forests of England, of course. Unlike the otherworldly locales of other children’s fantasies, the Hundred Acre Wood from A.A. Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh tales can actually be found, perfectly intact. But your kids’ imaginations will have to supply the talking animals.
Fans of Pooh Bear, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and friends will recognize the southeast corner of England (less than an hour out of London) as they discover the real Christopher Robin’s playground in Sussex, where all of the young boy’s animals come to life. So put away the screens, turn on kids’ imaginations, and enjoy the outdoors.
Charm to Spare
For fans of the book’s illustrator, E.H. Shepard: start your trip in London with a stop at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which holds 10 volumes of original drawings by Shepard, including the original sketches for Winnie-the-Pooh.
From there, the best place to start your tour of Pooh country is in Hartfield, East Sussex. Here, you’ll find Pooh Corner, where memorabilia and nostalgia join forces in a timber-framed building from the 1690’s with a short doorframe, made for kids about Christopher Robin’s size (don’t forget to duck!). Christopher Robin bought his bullseye candy here, and you can complete your collection of Pooh books and plush toys for the kids.
Once you’ve purchased a guide book or a map to the 100 Acre Wood (nearby Ashford Forest, in reality), stop in at Piglet’s Tea Room next door. Refresh your kidlets with a pot of tea and smackerels before heading out to the forest. Don’t forget some hunny and snacks for the road!
About a mile outside of Hartford is the former Milne country estate, Cotchford Farm. The private home (which has also been owned by the late Rolling Stones guitarist, Brian Jones) sits on the north edge of Ashford Forest. Christopher Robin’s real-life home is a great place to begin your journey into the Wood.
100 Acres in a Day
Pack a picnic and start your trek through the forest at Gills Lap (the enchanted Galleon’s Lap, according to Pooh lore). As you walk north, away from the road, you’ll come across a bench known to Pooh fans as the Enchanted Place. Take a seat and enjoy the view for a few minutes.
As you continue on, you’ll come to the Milne and Shepard Memorial, a plaque paying tribute to the author and illustrator of Pooh books, through which you’ve become familiar with this exact spot. The real Christopher Robin, Milne’s son, chose this spot as a place where his father would come to read, write, and watch. Here he places Pooh as well.
From here, a turn to the east will run into Roo’s Sandy Pit, a disused quarry where Roo was fond of playing. Take a few hops around the area and continue east across the main road and then north on the path down into the valley.
This will take you towards the North Pole, which Pooh and Christopher Robin discovered with their friends. You’ll see the stream where Roo fell in, but you might not see the stick Christopher Robin left there to mark their discovery. Place your own flag in the North Pole grounds to claim it for yourself. This is also a great place to enjoy your secret picnic and revel in your victory.
Head back up the other side of the valley and then around it at the T-Junction. Follow the rim of the valley back to your car and take the three-mile drive north to Pooh Bridge Car Park for the final leg of your Hundred Acre Wood journey.
Walk towards the River Medway to reach Poohsticks Bridge, where Pooh played the delightful (and completely unskilled) game. Grab some twigs before you get there, as tourists keep the immediate area around the bridge sadly twig-less. To play, simply throw your twigs into the upstream side of the river and see whose twig emerges on the other side first...just like childhoods of yore.
Storytime and Bedtime
Now that you’ve seen Pooh’s universe for yourself, it’s storytime! Head to your home base, the Anchor Inn in Hartfield, to relax with a lukewarm beer (as only the English can do) and a good story. Although it’s a 15th century inn, you’ll find all the requisite conveniences like an LCD television and Wi-Fi on demand. But you won’t need any of that to open up Milne’s famous tales and enter the Enchanted Places with Pooh and Piglet.
Once the kiddos are ready for bed, order in an extra rollaway and enjoy the peace and quiet of the English countryside. Let your imagination take over as you escape into the peace and quiet of the magical Hundred Acre Wood of your dreamland.
Will you take a trip and visit Hundred Acre Wood? Share your dream literary tours with us!Tags : travel sussex england