UCKFIELD is a rapidly expanding ‘strip’ town. The population currently stands at around 13,000, but new houses are going up all the time. Older properties are mainly Victorian – a three-bedroom semi of this period will cost between £180,000 and £235,000; a Thirties’ property of the same size, £250,000. For a smallish town there are a lot of facilities, including a Somerfield supermarket, leisure centre, cinema, library, bowling green and the nearby Piltdown golf club. A farmers’ market is held once a month. Uckfield is surrounded by lovely countryside, ideal for walking or cycling. To the north-west, the country lanes wind into Ashdown Forest. Here there are some rather grand houses with five bedrooms, paddock and enormous garden, costing over £1m.
Locals find the train service so slow that many prefer to drive the 12 miles to Haywards Heath for a much shorter journey. Uckfield used to be a notorious bottleneck on the A22 to Eastbourne until the bypass was constructed. Public car parks in the town are free, which is a mercy for people from the surrounding villages who have very few shops of their own.
The beautiful villages nearby are Fletching, Nutley and Barcombe Cross. Fletching is the most desirable. It has no new estates and is set in the Ashdown Forest, making it ideal for walks and pony rides. This is a village like villages used to be, with a close-knit community and a good village centre with beamed pubs. Many of the houses are picture-postcard trim. Three-bedroom properties, some with half an acre of land, sell for around £400,000 to £500,000. The former butcher’s shop, in need of work to convert it into a two-bedroom cottage, is priced at £250,000.
Little Horstead, to the south, is popular with golfers because of its proximity to Horstead Place, a large country estate with hotel and golf complex.