Beautiful Places 2: St. Leonard's Forest

Steeped in legends and myths as well as natural beauty, St. Leonard’s Forest lies on the eastern fringe of Horsham, not far southwest from Crawley. This Forestry England managed site is open to the public, and marks the western boundary of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The forest is named after the 6th Century French hermit, St. Leonard of Limousin. Legend states he famously fought and killed a dragon in the forest, a story which will capture the imagination of younger visitors. A millennia later a local smuggler raced the devil and won, leaving the straight path cleared of trees known as Mick Mills’ Race.


(Interpretation board at Roost Hole car park.)

The mixed deciduous and conifer trees tower over the numerous trails and rides crisscrossing the forest, linking up with other public access trails on most sides. Patches of heath are scattered throughout and two streams, or gills, carve valleys into the gentle rising hills, where the moving water can calm the mind while you listen out for rare birds such as redstarts and wood warblers. In spring the forest floor is covered in bluebells in spots, easily visible from many of the main paths.

Past visitors have built many dens leaning against the mighty trees – great for the kids (and grown-ups) to sit and share the Forest's famous stories.


The forest can be approached on foot from Horsham via Hamper’s Lane, off Compton’s Lane, following the High Weald Landscape Trail, past St. Leonard's Park. Alternatively, the Roost Hole car park is located on Hammerpond Road, just over a mile from St. Leonard’s Road.


For more information on St. Leonard's Forest visit:

NOTE: While Forestry England car parks have recently reopened, do check their COVID-19 guidance for visitors.

This beautiful place to walk was submitted by Jon Olson, local Lib Dem member.

Beautiful Places

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful. However, we know that getting outside in nature can have a positive impact on our mental health. Dr Mathew White, from the University of Exeter, explained in a recent BBC article, "Even a brief nature fix - 10 minutes of wind brushing across our cheek, or the sun on our skin - can lower stress."

While restrictions on our movements and travel have recently been eased by the government, limiting travel and staying local can be safer. Living in Horsham and Crawley we are lucky to be surrounded by countryside and so many beautiful places to walk. In this series of posts titled Beautiful Places we are highlighting some of our members' favourite places to go to experience nature on our doorsteps for their daily exercise.

More Beautiful Places:

Contact us to tell us about one of your favourite beautiful places in our district.

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