Introduction: This 150ha site of mixed conifer and broadleaf woodland is managed by the Forestry Commission. It links to, and can be accessed from, the adjoining Tilgate Park on the southern edge of Crawley.
Location: either side of the M23, south of Crawley in West Sussex
What can I do? Walk, ride or cycle the many trails around the forest. Search for a variety of wildlife including deer (fallow and roe), grass snakes and adders, dormice, solitary bees and wood ants. Volunteer to help manage the heathland habitat within the Forest. Contact the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership for more information. Visit the adjoining Tilgate Park, with its Nature Centre, GreenZone, Walled Garden, and Cafe.
What can I see? On sunny summer days basking grass snakes and adders and common lizards. A variety of woodland and heathland birds.
What can I hear? Deer rutting in the woods in the autumn. Nightjars churring on warm summer evenings.
Information available: An pdf interpretation board (1.69 MB) at the visitor entrances help you explore this fascinating forest. A pdf trail guide (19 KB) is available with information about a trail around the forest.
Grid Reference: TQ278335 (OS Map)
OS map: 187 (Landranger, 1:50 000)
Opening times: All year
Terrain: Gentle slopes and graded forest paths, some becoming very wet in the winter.
Nearest train station: Crawley (mainline) 1.6 miles
Nearest NCN route: Route 20 passes through the Forest
Where can I park? Parking available at Tilgate Park to the north of the Forest.
Where can I get further information? Forestry Commission website.
Site Enhancements 2009 - 2012
Open, heathy clearings were created on ride edges by removing conifers, bracken and scrub and extensive areas of invasive rhododendron were cleared, especially north of the M23.
The main access tracks around the site were regraded and improved. A welcome board was also installed at the entrance to Tilgate Forest from Tilgate Park, along with some chainsaw sculptures.
Additionally, two important surveys were conducted. An ecological survey enabled the Forestry Commission to understand more about the flora and fauna of the site, which has shaped subsequent site management decisions. An in-depth pdf archaeological survey (6.95 MB) was also undertaken, which unearthed fascinating information about the Forest's uses over hundreds of years.
The 2009 - 2012 site enhancements were funded by the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.