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 dragonflies, Nightjar, Great Crested Grebe, Adder and Grass Snake.
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 (see opening times)
- CoffeEco Mobile Barista (Fri/Sat/Sun)
- Phil Haskell Wild Garden (dog free area)
- picnic area
- free parking (voluntary donation scheme)
- disabled parking
- free coach parking with prior arrangement
- pushchair access
- wheelchair access
- toilets, including a disabled toilet
- dog walking (dogs under 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.
The Countryside Centre provides information and displays about the park and wider countryside. It is open Sundays and bank holidays, 12.30pm-5.00pm, and at other times as staffing levels permit.
A variety of items, including hot and cold drinks, locally-made ice cream and a range of local produce are available in the Centre.
There are picnic areas by Douster Pond, Target Hill and in the Wild Garden.
The nearest shops are at Dorsten Square, Bewbush, just under ½ mile from the entrance, and refreshments are also available in the Countryside Centre.
Male and female toilets are located outside the Countryside Centre and are available during car park opening times. There is an additional toilet that includes facilities for baby changing and the disabled.
Buchan Country Park is a haven for quiet recreation and is popular with local dog walkers.
- Dogs are welcome but please keep them under close control.
- Owners are obliged to clear up any mess their dogs leave - 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 wildlife.
- Please keep dogs out of Douster Pond to avoid disturbing wildlife and other users.
- Help us keep the wild garden a dog-free area.
Find out more in our Code of Conduct:
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, complete the self-led booking form and return via email to: firstname.lastname@example.orgSelf-led booking form (Word, 205KB)
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
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.