In Pooh’s footsteps

By | Category: Travel destinations

Heading to Hartfield  – aka the birthplace of AA Milne’s ‘bear of very little brain’  – for National ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Day on 18 January? JAT shows you the way to go

More than one million people visit the Hartfield spots patronised by Pooh – the star of A. A Milne’s whimsical books, which E.H Shepard illustrated with warmth and imagination – every year.

Planning on joining them? Make Pooh Corner, the gateway into Pooh Country, your first port of call. Tucked between two sugar almond shaded cottages and an enclosed shady garden overlooking the high street, it’s a veritable gold mine of Pooh-phernalia: shelves strain with souvenirs emblazoned with the image of the world famous bear, with his honey addiction. The store is situated in the original building that housed the candy store where the Milne’s nanny would take a young Christopher Robin to buy his bulls’ eye candy back in 1905. Under the ownership of the amiable Ridleys, it has been a Pooh shrine since the late 1970s. If you only buy one item, invest in an “exploitation” certificate which allows the visitor to tick off the places of interest beloved by Pooh. 

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Two and a half miles south of Pooh Corner lies Pooh Bridge – the most famous of all the enchanted places.  It was here that the AA Milne first played  Poohsticks – later immortalised in The House at Pooh Corner – with his son. To reach Pooh Bridge, follow signs to Maresfield: the journey should take approximately 40 minutes by foot. Tip: try to pick up suitable twigs en route as there are few to be found at the bridge itself. Rebuilt first in 1979 and again in 1999, the bridge corresponds to Shepard’s illustration and it’s easy to imagine a small boy and his bear hanging over the rail “just doing nothing” as they watched the stream slip slowly by.

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From Pooh Bridge, head for the Enchanted Place, a clump of pine trees on a grassy knoll. Dubbed the “enchanted place” because it was only the spot in the forest where Pooh could carelessly sit down without prickling his bottom, it was also the magical site whereby Christopher Robin decided to knight his loyal little friend with the words: “Rise, Sir Pooh de Bear, most faithful of all my knights.”

Further in front lies a memorial plaque in memory of Milne and Shepard, while to the right the pine covered forest pierces the sky. Within easy walking distance are the lone pine tree, Eeyore’s gloomy place, the sandy pit where Roo plays plus the hiding holes of Rabbit and his relations. You can also retrace the steps to the North Pole and with a little imagination locate a Pooh Trap for Heffalumps. All are mapped out in the complimentary Pooh Country visitor’s map.

Encapsulating the great outdoors, Pooh Country is a dream come true. The place puts a spell on you. Everything – work, family and financial woes – seems a long way from Pooh’s place…

 

For more information on the region, visit www.pooh-country.co.uk

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