FOREST COUNTRY AGAIN
Balcombe—The iron furnace and the iron horse—Leonard Gale of Tinslce Forge—Mr. Wilfred Scawen Blunfof Crabbet—" The Old Squire" —Frederick Locker-Lampson of Rowfant—The Rowfant books—" To F. L "—The Rowfant titmice.
On leaving the train at Balcombe, one is quickly on the densely wooded Forest Ridge of Sussex, here fenced and preserved, but farther east, when it becomes Ashdovvn Forest, consistingof vast tracts of open moorland and heather. Balcombe has a simple church, protected by a screen of Scotch firs; its great merit is its position as the key to a paradise for all who like woodland travel. From Balcpmbe to Worth is one vast pheasant run, with here and there a keeper's cottage or a farm : originally, of course, a series of plantations growing furnace wood for the ironmasters. In Tilgate Forest, to the west of Balcombe Forest, are two large sheets of water, once hammer-ponds, walking west from which, towards Horsham, one may be said to traverse the Lake Country of Sussex. A strange transformation, from Iron Black Country to Lake Country !— but nature quickly recovers herself, and were the true Black Country's furnaces extinguished, she would soon make even that grimy tract a haunt of loveliness once more.
No longer are heard the sounds of the hammers, but Balcombe Forest, Tilgate Forest, and Worth Forest have still a constant reminder of machinery, for very few minutes pass from morning to night without the rumble of a train on the