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.


About

Please note: WSCC sites currently remain open for people to use via the Public Rights of Way network. Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines and keep at least two metres from people if you choose to use them for your daily exercise. Please be aware others will have touched stiles and gates and you should wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

The Visitor centre and toilets at Buchan Park have been closed and 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. At the weekend, the car park will be closed as there are no staff on site, so please do not drive to the park at weekends. 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 dragonflies, Nightjar, Great Crested Grebe, Adder and Grass Snake.


Park information

Facilities

Buchan Country Park is a Green Flag award winning site. Enjoy this special piece of Sussex countryside and the wildlife that calls it home.

We offer:

  • Countryside Centre (closed until further notice)
  • CoffeEco Mobile Barista located at the Countryside Centre (closed until further notice)
  • Phil Haskell Wild Garden (dog free area)
  • picnic area, from Wednesday 13 May 2020 picnics are permitted within your own household group in line with updated Government guidance
  • 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 (closed until further notice)
  • dog walking (dogs under control in all areas of the park)
  • dog dip
  • dog bins
  • fishing (Crawley Angling Society members only).

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 3.5km (2-mile) novice orienteering course and maps are free; download one below or collect one from the Countryside Centre.

Countryside Centre

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.

Picnic areas

From Wednesday 13 May 2020 picnics are permitted within your own household group in line with updated Government guidance.

There are picnic areas by Douster Pond, Target Hill and in the Wild Garden. At the main picnic area by Douster Pond there are three BBQ stands. Please follow the park's BBQ rules.

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 

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the toilets are closed to the public. This is to help prevent the spread of infection and for the safety of park staff. We apologise for the inconvenience.

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 - 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

Currently suspended

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

Currently suspended

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.

Large groups

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.

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 - 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: countryside@westsussex.gov.uk

Self-led booking form (Word, 205KB)

Local organisations offering formal education

Fishing

Season closed until 15 June 2020

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.  

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:


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.


Volunteers

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.


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!

Opening hours

At the moment we are keeping the park and car park open in line with Government guidelines, excluding weekends and bank holidays. We are continually monitoring numbers visiting the park and will review this status on a daily basis. Please observe all the government's guidelines regarding exercise and social distancing.

Car park opening times

Monday to Friday 8.00am - 6.00pm

Contact details

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