New cafe opens at iconic Sussex forest attraction

A new cafe has opened its door at the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre.

The cafe is part of a drive to encourage more visitors to come to the Centre on Colemans Hatch Road in Wych Cross. Ashdown Forest Chief Executive Mark Pearson says it's the ideal time to welcome more people to the Forest Centre.

"It's coffee and cake as a start as we improve our visitor experience to the Ashdown Forest. We are already welcoming tourists, families and also parents of children who come here on one of our many educational visits during the year.

"It's about making the whole area a wildlife nature hub and Information Centre that is attractive to a variety of groups. We are also looking to make the Centre more accessible to people and previously the High Weald National Partnership funded the Changing Places facilities.

"We want it to be a thriving area where people come to learn more about nature and wildlife, and this is the first step to create that. We want to give people more reasons to come here and experience wildlife first hand."

Funding has been provided by The Ashdown Forest Foundation to start the café

Niamh Mahoney, Forest Centre Office Manager, said: "We have enjoyed receiving feedback on our fresh traybakes and cookie selections and are keen to take on board more suggestions. The millionaire’s shortbread has been a particular hit.

"We now have the choice of our upholstered indoor space or relaxing in the sun in our outdoor picnic area. We place sustainability at the forefront of this project. That’s why we have chosen to combine full flavour with sustainability, and only source Fairtrade beans.

"Our cups are fully compostable, our team is very welcoming, and sales from the Visitor Centre contribute greatly to conserving Ashdown Forest for the future.

"Our Information Barn is an authentic 1750s threshing building. and we look forward to developing our café in the future."

The venue is Colemans Hatch Road, Wych Cross, East Sussex, RH18 5JP. It is open Monday-Friday, from 10am to 4.30pm. Please check the website here for weekend opening hours, as these are subject to volunteers' availability.

If you are interested in volunteering at Ashdown Forest this summer check out the website’s ‘Donate and Join’ page where you can download an application form.

Photography by Lucy Brennan

Related topics: