Please note: West Sussex County Council countryside sites currently remain open for people to use via the Public Rights of Way network.
When visiting the countryside and using Public Rights of Way you must maintain social distancing, following Government COVID-19 guidelines.
Please be respectful of the needs of others in the countryside and always follow the Countryside Code.
The countryside centre at Buchan Park remains closed. Toilets are available on a one-in, one-out basis. Please read all signage and follow queueing instructions. Visitors use the toilet facilities at their own risk. The car park situation is being monitored. During the week, if numbers are deemed too high to enable social distancing at pinch points, the car park will be closed. These arrangements are being constantly reviewed and may change on Government advice.
Buchan Country Park has won the Green Flag Award, which recognises the best green spaces in the UK, every year since 2010.
The Park is an excellent place for walking, watching wildlife or enjoying a picnic. We have a number of sculptures dotted around the park which families can have fun hunting for.
Animals to look out for include:
- Great Crested Grebe
- Grass snake.
Be Tick-Aware: When out and about in the countryside, please be tick aware. Read these NHS guidelines about Lyme disease and tick awareness.
Buchan Country Park is a Green Flag award winning site. Enjoy this special piece of Sussex countryside and the wildlife that calls it home.
- Countryside Centre (closed until further notice)
- CoffeEco Mobile Barista located at the top of the car park, on the right-hand side before you enter the park (opening times may vary. See the CoffeeEco Mobile Barista Facebook page for details)
- Phil Haskell Wild Garden (dog free area)
- picnic area, picnics are permitted following government social distancing guidelines
- three designated BBQ stands located in the picnic area
- free parking (voluntary donation scheme temporarily suspended)
- disabled parking
- free coach parking with prior arrangement (currently suspended)
- pushchair access
- wheelchair access
- toilets, including a disabled toilet and baby change facilities (cleaned on a daily basis, please read and follow onsite signage regarding distancing and queueing)
- dog walking (keep dogs under effective control in all areas of the park)
- dog dip
- dog bins
- fishing (Crawley Angling Society members only).
There is a network of hard-surfaced paths which ensures easy walking in all weather conditions. Much of the park allows good access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. You can download our easy-access trail information below.
There is a permanent 3.5km (2-mile) novice orienteering course and maps are free; download one below or collect one from the Countryside Centre.
- Buchan Park trail guide leaflet (PDF, 939KB)
- Mole Valley orienteering club - a pdf version of the Buchan Park orienteering trail map can be requested.
Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Countryside Centre is remaining closed until further notice. Please follow our facebook page to keep up to date with wildlife sightings and interesting facts and information about the park.
You must follow current government guidance regarding 'Gatherings, public spaces and activities' relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
At the main picnic area by Douster Pond there are three BBQ stands. You may only BBQ on one of these designated stands and please follow the park's BBQ policy which is posted close to the waste bins on site.
The nearest shops are at Dorsten Square, Bewbush, just under ½ mile from the entrance, and refreshments are also available in the Countryside Centre.
Toilets are available at a reduced capacity and on a one-in, one-out basis. The facilities are cleaned daily. Please read the signage at the site and follow instructions regarding queueing and distancing. Visitors use the toilets at their own risk.
Buchan Country Park is a haven for quiet recreation and is popular with local dog walkers.
- Dogs are welcome, but please keep them under effective control for the benefit of wildlife and other park users.
- Owners are obliged to always clear up after their dog in the park - 12 dedicated bins are provided for this purpose.
- Island Pond has a dog dip, a designated area where dogs may swim without disturbing other users and to minimise disturbance to wildlife. Please do not allow your dog to swim at any other location in the park.
- Help us keep the wild garden a dog-free area.
- Please keep dogs on a short lead in the car park and along the main entrance path until you have crossed the bridge into the park.
Voluntary car parking donation scheme
In October 2018 West Sussex County Council installed some second-hand car parking meters to try and generate some income for the Park.
Paying for parking is on a voluntary basis only and people will still be able to park for free if they wish.
All money donated via the machines will be gratefully received and go towards maintaining and improving the park for its visitors and wildlife conservation projects.
Donations received by other means have already helped fund the:
- orchard restoration project
- improvements to the Phil Haskell Wild Garden
- planting of wildlife friendly hedgerows
- making of bird boxes
- installation of benches, sculptures and waymarked trails in the park.
Group visits and school trips
All schools and large groups (over 5 cars) wishing to visit the park, must book at least 4 weeks in advance and bookings are taken on a first come first served basis.
To avoid event clashes and to organise car parking, large groups must pre-book their visit by completing the self-led booking form below.
Schools and other educational visits
Buchan Country Park is an excellent place for people of all ages to learn about the countryside and wildlife; whether it’s finding your way around the country park using a map or learning about wildlife habitats. Check out our ranger-led events on our events programme.
School groups, scouts and beavers can visit the park for educational use on a self-led basis. All self-led visits are free, although donations towards the management of the park and its wildlife are welcome (suggested donation of £2.00 per child). Please note that due to the sensitive wildlife present at Buchan Country Park the maximum size for school groups is one class.
- Orienteering course - Suitable for beginners to intermediate orienteers. Maps and compasses are available for loan.
- Create your own walk - Explore the park on foot and plan your own activities. A copy of the park trail guide is available. Make sure you follow the Countryside Code.
- Dipping ponds - These can be made available to smaller groups with leaders who have experience of running pond dipping activities. Nets and trays are available for loan. (Maximum of 24 children)
To request a booking, please follow the link below to complete the online self-led booking form.Request a booking (external link)
Local organisations offering formal education
Fishing at Buchan Country Park is managed by the Crawley Angling Society.
No day tickets are available and night fishing is only permitted on Tuesday and Saturday nights.
In medieval times the area now known as Buchan Country Park was heavily used for wood extraction and grazing for sheep. As a result, the original woods became heathland.
William Cobbett's Rural Rides
In 1823, William Cobbett set out from Worth to ride to Horsham. His route took him through what is now Buchan Country Park.
At that time the land belonged to Lord Erskine, who had named the area Buchan Hill after his father, the Earl of Buchan. In his book, 'Rural Rides', Cobbett recalls his journey through the estate of Lord Erskine as being bare heath...
..."in part, planted with fir trees, which are as ugly as the heath was; and, in short, it is a most villainous tract."
Cobbett clearly saw heathland as a wasteland. However, today heathland is seen as a very important but declining (disappearing) habitat, and conservation organisations put much effort into restoring it. Since 1992, 13 hectares of heath have been restored at Buchan Country Park.
In Victorian times, the park was owned by a wealthy businessman called Mr Saillard, who built what is now Cottesmore school on the site. The Saillard family was responsible for establishing both Island and Douster ponds.
Buchan Park today
West Sussex County Council purchased the park in 1969, and Buchan Country Park was officially opened in 1982.
The park is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) and is of national importance for its dragonfly populations. In 1985 the lakes and surrounds were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Both books mentioned above, 'Rural Rides' and 'Come into the Sunlight', are available from the Library Service.
Find out about our management plans in the documents below:
Friends of Buchan Country Park
We are currently unable to welcome new volunteers at Buchan Country Park, however you can still become a friend of the park by following the link below.
The Friends of Buchan Country Park are a group of volunteers who are passionate about the park and its wildlife and who promote its use as a beautiful public space.
The group support the park by running a range of fun and successful events including dog shows, artwork activities, Easter egg hunts, Christmas carols and more, which all raise funds for the park. They also help the countryside rangers with the maintenance of the park and carrying out wildlife conservation works.
These events do not require booking and can be found on our Countryside events listings.
For more information, or to join as a member or volunteer, visit the website.
You can also find information on becoming a volunteer countryside ranger.
Think, Share, Be Aware
The number of visitors to our countryside sites, including Buchan Country Park, is on the increase, which is great!
However, with the increase in users comes the need to be careful when out and about; whether that's on foot, or bike, with friends, family or just walking the dog.
There are a few things you can do to ensure we all continue to enjoy our countryside:
- Respect other visitors on your route and be courteous.
- Cyclists: Please slow down and give way to walkers and wheelchair users.
- Keep your dog under effective control so as to not disturb other park visitors. Please use the dog waste bins provided.
- Anglers: Please ensure you are familiar with and abide by all Crawley Angling Society rules including those specific to Buchan Country Park.
- Take your litter home with you.
Buchan Country Park is a special place for everyone to enjoy, please respect the park and each other.
Think of other visitors, Share paths with others and Be Aware of what's around you!