Visit Buchan Country Park

Buchan Country Park

Buchan Country Park , Horsham Road , Crawley , West Sussex , RH11 9HQ

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Buchan Country Park is 170 acres of beautiful countryside right on Crawley's doorstep.

Opening hours

The country park is open 365 days a year.

The Countryside Centre is open on Sundays and bank holidays, 12.30pm - 4.00pm.

Car park opening times

1 November - 31 March: 8.00am - 6.00pm
1 April - 31 May: 8.00am - 8.00pm
1 June - 31 August: 8.00am - 9.00pm
1 September - 31 October: 8.00am - 8.00pm

Contact details

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About

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, Night Jar, Great-crested Grebe, Adder, and Grass Snake.


Park information

Park Facilities

Enjoy this special piece of Sussex countryside and the wildlife that calls it home. Buchan Country Park has won the Green Flag award for the last 5 years for the quality of its facilities.

We offer:

  • Countryside Centre (see opening times)
  • refreshments
  • wildlife garden (dog free zone)
  • picnic area
  • free parking
  • disabled parking
  • free all day coach/mini-bus parking
  • pushchair access
  • wheelchair access
  • toilets, including a disabled toilet
  • access for dogs in certain areas
  • dog bins
  • dog dip
  • fishing.

Getting around

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 2-mile novice orienteering course; a map can be purchased for £1.50 from the Countryside Centre.

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.

Picnic areas

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.

Toilets 

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 for the disabled; this can be accessed by a RADAR key.

A RADAR key can be obtained from the Countryside Centre during office hours if staff are available. Users can also obtain a key from the national RADAR network for £4.00.

Dog walking

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. Dog 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:

Education and activities

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. As well as running our events programme, we also offer self-led educational school visits and ranger-led evenings for groups such as scouts and brownies.

All groups wishing to visit the park on a self-led or ranger-led basis must book least 4 weeks in advance and bookings are taken on a first come first served basis. 

Self-led groups

School groups, scouts/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.

Activities

  • 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 - This 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 complete the self-led booking form and return via email to: countryside@westsussex.gov.uk

Self-led booking form (Word, 205KB)

Ranger-led evening activities

We can offer exciting and educational ranger-led evening activities at Buchan Country Park for groups such as scouts and girl guides.

Activities

Our minimum charge is £60.00 per group, adults are free.

  • Bushcraft skills - Den building or fire lighting. Cost of £5.00 per child and lasts for up to two hours.
  • Night hike - Wildlife walk looking for nocturnal animals, toasted marshmallows and a torchlight procession back. Cost of £5.00 per child and lasts for up to two hours.
  • Live small mammal trapping - Searching for mice, voles and shrews. Cost of £5.00 per child and lasts for up to two hours.
  • Conservation badge - Making and managing wildlife habits; log piles, woodland coppicing or heathland management. Cost of £4.00 per child and lasts for up to two hours.
  • Wildlife walks - Bat walk or moth trapping. Cost of £4.00 per child and lasts for up to two hours.

Our evening activities are very popular and we can only take a limited number of bookings, so please book early. Activities last for a maximum of 2 hours per session. All bookings are taken on a first come first served basis. Sorry no dogs, except guide/assistance dogs.

To request a booking please complete the ranger-led booking form and return via email to: countryside@westsussex.gov.uk

Ranger-led booking form (Word, 205KB)

Local organisations offering formal education

Fishing

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.  

Please use Crawley Angling Society website for further details.

Park History

Medieval times

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.

Victorian era

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

The Friends of Buchan Country Park are a group of people 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.

For more information or to join, visit the website.


Events

Buchan Country Park and other events

To view and book events at Buchan Country Park and across the county see our Countryside events listings.


Photography competition 2016

Congratulations to the deserved winners!

Thank you to all who entered this year's competition! Our volunteers enjoyed judging all the photographs and said choosing a winner was particularly difficult this year.

This year's winners:

  • Adult Winner - Foxes by Peter Stroud
  • Kids Winner - Common Lizard by David King

Make sure to visit the Friends of Buchan Country Park website to view a selection of the entries and for details of next year's competition.


Photography competition images