Updated: Jan 22, 2020
There are many strong contenders for Ashdown Forest's most iconic view, and each has its own set of distinguishing features. Surely the winner - if indeed it is right to have one - must include open heathland, despite it's rather coarse, dishevelled appearance, and some Scots Pine trees. Despite being slap-bang in the middle of South-East England's crowded commuter belt there are many wonderful distant vistas thanks to the Forest's elevated position. These afford sweeping views of both North and South Downs in Surrey and Sussex respectively, usually under large, energetic skies. We could include other elements, but heathland, pine trees, long views and big skies will suffice, and this north-facing prospect has it all.
You only need to walk for a couple of minutes from Wren's Warren car park to arrive in this captivating landscape. Ashdown has a number of auspiciously positioned Scots Pines, standing alone, and this one is perhaps the most majestic. It has an impressive stature and is in really good nick, acting as a strong focal point in the middle of the open heathland. I have been here many times and, more often than not everything is grey, brown, and just a little bit dreary. Perhaps that can be forgiven - it's just a stone's throw away from Eeyore's Gloomy Place, that melancholy corner of A.A. Milne's imagination. However, under the lamp of November's late afternoon sun it is an entirely different matter. Reds, golds and soft purple shadows transform the scene. Strongly coloured scenes can present challenges to the landscape artist. It would be easy to create an incoherent, technicolour splurge, but the role of the artist is to enhance some colours, play down others, and blend them into a compelling vision. At least, that's the theory.