There can be no denying that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for travel and tourism across the world. With more and more people choosing to holiday at home, local communities have come up with ingenious ways to attract visitors whilst also observing social distancing and Covid-safe practices. One such example is a sleepy little town in the South East of England.
Crowborough sits on the edge of Winnie the Pooh’s playground in the Ashdown Forest and is famous for being the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. With idyllic countryside at every turn and only an hour by train from London, it is an ideal location for those wishing for a change of scenery; without the risks currently associated with foreign travel.
The small town, in East Sussex, made an appearance on BBC South East during the national lockdown due to their community Rock Snake which was created by painting pebbles and proved to be an unexpected overnight success with residents; fostering a sense of community and closeness at a time when many felt alone. Locals painted their pebbles at home and then placed them on the snake; with the project eventually reaching so far that it had to double back on itself so as to fit more stones. Designs ranged from favourite cartoon characters, positive quotes, local business logos and even a few memorial stones for friends and family members lost during the height of the pandemic. It has proven so popular that the local council recently approved a proposal to find the snake a permanent home near to it’s original location on Chapel Green.
Every autumn, at the beginning of September, the community would usually have a bonfire and torchlit procession through the streets as part of a carnival season which culminates with Lewes bonfire on 5th November. Bonfire societies from all over the south-east come together with crowds lining the streets to watch the spectacular costumes, musical performances and dance displays. As this is not a viable option in the current climate, groups have come together to create a Scarecrow Trail. Registration for this event took place over the summer and was open to all residents, businesses and community groups within the Crowborough area.
Since then, applicants have been working diligently to create unusual and inventive designs for the event with a focus on using recycled and sustainable resources. There have been over 100 entries in total, with designs ranging from Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz, Minions, a tribute to the Girl Guides and many more. A tired cyclist can be seen on Burnt Oak Road and outside the Kings Arms in Rotherfield, you may be able to spot a Guinness fan who has had one too many.
The trail runs until 13th September and you can download a map or checklist from the Crowborough Families website which pinpoints the location of all 104 scarecrows. There is also the option to vote for your favourite entry.