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Balcombe to East Grinstead walk

Gentle wooded hills, Wakehurst Place Gardens (NT) and a reservoir

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date # Post
Sat, 14-Oct-17 28

Saturday walk - Balcombe to East Grinstead - a varied walk across the High Weald

Book 1, walk 34 - Balcombe to East Grinstead
Length: 17.2km (10.7 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10

10.10 train from St Pancras International (10.22 Blackfriars, 10.49 East Croydon) to Balcombe, arriving 11.19

Or take the 10.23 from Victoria (10.29 Clapham Junction) to East Croydon, arriving 10.40, to connect with the above train there.

Buy a day return to Balcombe and then a single from East Grinstead to East Croydon on the return journey **

(** Balcombe tickets are NOT valid on this leg: a Balcombe return with a Network Card costs £12.75. You can reduce this to £6.35 by taking a Thameslink only option but then you must change at East Croydon on the return journey and take a Thameslink train, which today means only a Blackfriars/St Pancras train as services to London Bridge are not running. A single from East Grinstead to East Croydon with a Network Card costs £6.20)

For walk directions click here.

I thought this old favourite would make a nice autumn walk. It has lots of delights, including plenty of Wealden woods and hills, a crossing on public footpaths of the National Trust Grounds at Wakehurst Place, and the hooting of (usually unseen) Bluebell Line steam trains. In the afternoon there is a stretch along the Weir Wood Reservoir.

Lunch is at the somewhat posh-looking Cat Inn in West Hoathly, but an earlier option is the National Trust tea room at Wakehurst Place. This is immediately adjacent to the right of way but just occasionally NT staff have been sniffy about walkers diverting into it - I don't know why, as it is extra revenue for them. So be discreet (ie try not to enter en masse, waving treking poles and splaying mud everywhere) and don't use it as a way into the gardens without paying. If you fancy doing a proper visit to the site, note that there is light for walking today until about 6.30pm.

For tea the Dunnings Mill pub a little way before the end of the walk is nice and the only pub option. Otherwise East Grinstead Sainsbury's at the end has a Starbucks.

Trains back from East Grinstead are at 07 and 37 past.... Don't forget to buy that single to East Croydon. T=1.34
Thank you, Walker, for the careful research. Appreciated.
Following the uncertainty earlier in the week, as reflected in earlier versions of this post, Southern have now confirmed that their trains will run as normal on the East Grinstead line on Saturday. So this post is no longer provisional...
Sounds like a great walk Ryan
I'm going to try a route out from East Grinstead via Fen Place Mill and Minepit Wood and will aim to meet the group at lunch.
28 on this walk: 25 at the start, one late starter, one who walked from East Grinstead (see previous comment), and one dumb clutz (me!!) who mistakenly took the train an hour earlier than the one he himself had posted (just goes to show you should always read the walk post CAREFULLY).

It started rather cloudy but warm sun eventually managed to break through. Increasing amounts of it. There was a bit of mud but not too much. Quite a bit of autumn colour too, though we are still some way (several weeks if this mild weather holds) off the peak.

One walker had pre booked a table for four at the Cat Inn. When another tried to book one for 8, he was told they were fully booked. Those who ignored this advice and went to the pub anyway found it not that busy. About ten of us went instead to the Seed Cafe at Wakehurst Place where the queue moved somewhat slower than the Greenland ice sheet and the hot choice was a) vegetable soup b) baked potatoes with cheese or tuna mayonnaise and c) sausage rolls. Having said that, both soup and baked potato were quite nice.

The cafe lunchers managed to hook up with the pub lunchers at the Cat Inn, where we sat outside in the sun having drinks and coffee how nice it is to sit outside! How soon this pleasure will be denied us!. Eight of us also diverted to the National Trust tea room at Standen near the end of the walk and had an al fresco tea there. Others went for drinks at Dunnings Mill, and a few of us went to a stripped down pub near East Grinstead station (beer served from the barrel), whose name escapes me.

All in all, I think the consensus was that it was a nice autumn walk and 10.7 miles of walking adequately filled the day, though as one old timer commented "this walk does not seem as long as it used to".

(Oh and belated apologies for not realising that the best ticket combination would have been a Thameslink single to Balcombe and a Southern single from East Grinstead to Victoria £12 13 in all. For the record, while three of us diligently paid the East Grinstead to East Croydon supplement, one of our party with a Balcombe any permitted return did not bother and was waved through by both barrier staff and the ticket inspector on the train.)
I am surprised to see that the issue of distance of the walk came up again. To keep it in balance, some found the distance was just about right coupled with a late start, it was perfect. Thank Walker to post this walk.
Sorry, my wording gives the wrong impression. The issue of walk length did not come up at all: no one mentioned it. I was merely repeating a throwaway remark by an old friend. He was reflecting on how easy 10.7 mile walks seem today compared to when we first started doing SWC walks. Quietly, without noticing, walking each Saturday makes your fitter.
Sat, 15-Oct-16 21

Saturday First Walk - Woods and hills and the hoot of a steam train

Book 1 Walk 34 - Balcombe to East Grinstead
Length: 17.2km (10.7 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10

9.42 from London Bridge (9.56 East Croydon) to Balcombe, arriving 10.22.

Best ticket: a tricky one, as Balcombe and East Grinstead are on different branches, diverging at East Croydon. Our resident train gnome says that an "any permitted" day return to Balcombe is accepted at East Grinstead, but recent comments cast doubt on that. You should certainly avoid a cheaper "Thameslink only" return to Balcombe, as you will be coming back on a Southern service. Having said that, you could get a "Thameslink only" return to Balcombe (£5.60 with a Network Card) and then a single from East Grinstead to East Croydon (£6.15 with a Network Card) and then make sure you change at East Croydon to a Thameslink train to return to London Bridge (or use Oyster from there on in, but don't forget to tap in). Anyone with better advice is welcome to post a comment

For walk directions click here.

This pleasant Wealden walk seems to have dropped off the map recently, which is a pity as it was once a firm favourite. You set out eastwards from Balcombe, the only rural stop on the Brighton line, and to begin with there is a fair bit of upping and downing, taking in the gardens of Wakehurst Place, a National Trust property (whose tea room is a potential light lunch stop) en route.

One more up and down brings you to West Hoathly, whose pub the Cat Inn looks to have slight idees au dessus de son gare (ideas above its station: a joke from the Terence Rattigan play French without Tears), even though West Hoathly is in fact not au dessus de son gare because it is the village that refused to let the Bluebell Line re-open its station (see Wikipedia). (Ho ho ho - Ed)

Whatever, with luck your walk through the woods after lunch will be punctuated with the pleasant hooting of a passing Bluebell Line train, before a climb up to Stone Farm Rocks and a walk along the Weir Water Reservoir. Tea is at the Old Mill pub or Starbucks in the Sainsbury's by the station, though keen students of the East Grinstead Circular walk would be able to divert to other options.

Trains back from East Grinstead are at 07 and 37 past.
Walker's ticket advice is sensible. Southern staff at East Grinstead have become fussier about accepting return tickets issued to other stations, which won't go through the ticket barriers. They usually wave through tickets to Uckfield line stations (somewhat grudgingly) but it would be annoying to pay over the odds for an "Any Permitted" return to Balcombe and then have it rejected.

Note that the cheap "Thameslink only" tickets are only issued from London stations like St Pancras or London Bridge: tickets to Balcombe are more expensive from East Croydon or Boundary Zone 6 (both £6.25 single, £7.40 return). And on the way back a single from East Grinstead to Boundary Zone 6 (£6.20) is more expensive than East Croydon (in Zone 5!) or Upper Warlingham (£5.15), so get the latter if you've got a Freedom Pass. [If you're changing onto a Thameslink train at East Croydon you could actually get a single to Caterham "via East Croydon" for £5.50, but don't ask me why that's 65p cheaper than the fare to East Croydon...]
Thanks fgpr the travel details Walker and thanks Sean for adding to it
BUT
whcih tickets do we buy please ?
Well, if the alternative idea I suggested doesn't impress you, buy "any permitted" day return to Balcombe and then pay for a single from East Grinstead to East Croydon if asked to do so at the ticket barriers there
Ah this walk always attracts plenty of comments regarding the tickets!
I'm going for the Thameslink return to Balcombe (£5.60) and Sean's excellent suggestion of a single from East Grinstead to Caterham via East Croydon (£5.15)
Network Rail Cards assumed cheaper for Freedom Passers methinks.
However London Bridge is my preferred station so I am biased!

To clarify (or muddy the waters)

Mike A's solution would be £5.60 + £5.15 = £10.75 with a Network Card, and you would either have to use Freedom Pass or Oyster from East Croydon to home, or get a Thameslink train back to London Bridge or Blackfriars.

From London "any permitted" to Balcombe return is £14.60 with a Network Card. You may be allowed to use this from East Grinstead or you may not, so you may have to pay an extra £5.15 (to Caterham via East Croydon) or £6.15 (East Grinstead to East Croydon) on top = £20.75 potentially.

So putting up with changing on the return leg to a Thameslink train at East Croydon seems to give you big cash benefits.

All this advice is "without prejudice" as the lawyers say
how many more acres are you going to fill up with aimless chat about train tickets, when the price difference is negligible and it all hinges on the mood of the people at the barriers in E. Grinstead anyway? One already has to scroll down multiple times to get to the posting for walk 2, never mind 3...
21 walkers on this wonderfully sunny day with a little shower at the beginning and another at the end of the day.
A calm gentle walk with leaf change showing quite startling so when a maple occurred.
The Cat Inn bloomin marvelous
Tea at The Old Bank Cafe so so
The Manor House is up for sale apparently in West Hoathly in case anybody wants a nice gaff over the road from the pub and the church but I can't find the price on the web and one of our walkers met the man selling it and he said the price is not being disclosed I wonder if he really wants to sell it.
As maybe you can guess there was little of incidence on the walk just a lovely day.

Sat, 01-Aug-15 23

Saturday First Walk

I will be standing down shortly - I go away in September
So a new volunteer poster is needed - or volunteers: it is perfectly OK to volunteer for every other week or even one week in four.
Traditionally this slot has been chosen from Book 1 or Book 2 walks and the feeling is that it would be good to continue this
.
The work involves choosing a walk - choosing a train time and posting it.
The posting team will be very happy to give the new poster/s support
To volunteer email saturdaywalkersATyahooDOTcoDOTuk (or post a comment if you have a question).

Meanwhile here is this weeks walk

Book 1 Walk 34 : Balcombe to East Grinstead
17.2km (10.7 miles)
6 out of 10 Just picked this up form the comments
We loved every minute of this walk. We were a group of 10 friends and had a blast. We are not really sporty people, although we try to do some workout now and then. We managed to do the whole thing and be very happy at the end. So don't be discouraged by the toughness level 6.
Explorer 135 or Landranger 187
Map of the walk here


Take the 10.12 from London Bridge Station ( East Croydon 10.25 ) to Balcombe arriving 10.51.
Clapham Junction take the 10.08 changing at East Croydon leaving at 10.25 on the London Bridge train
Trains back from East Grinstead XX.07 XX.37 go to Victoria
Ticket advice is tricky as the two stations are on different lines. In the past Southern have accepted a day return to Balcombe at East Grinstead but they will not accept tickets endorsed "FCC only", which is what you will be offered at London Bridge and other stations served by First Capital Connect. It's probably best to ask for a return to Balcombe valid on any train (eg. by saying that you might want to return to Victoria), but be prepared to buy a single to East Croydon (where the two lines merge) if this isn't accepted at East Grinstead.
One of the posters did some research about a year ago and posited this

Thames link Day return to Balcombe £11.50 (10p more than a single)
Southern Day return to Balcombe (Victoria) £18.90 (10p more than a single)
Southern single East Grinstead to East Croydon £9.30
so £11.50 + £9.30 = £20.80 is watertight £18.90 is not
or if you're eligible for a 1/3 off ...
£13.73 is watertight £12.48 is not


The Bluebell Railway (tel 01825 720 800) is nearby, and it would be possible to combine part of this walk with a trip on a period train hauled by a steam locomotive. The line goes from East Grindstead through Kingscote and Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park.
See the Comments page for this walk for some ideas on how you could do this.

This walk has a fair number of relatively gentle uphills and downhills, but is well worth the effort. It starts in the old village of Balcombe, passes Balcombe House, and then goes through the woods and by the lake of Balcombe Estate, up to a farm that can be extremely muddy in wet weather, to reach the National Trust gardens and Tudor mansion at Wakehurst Place around mid-morning. From there the route passes through further woods to the Priest House Museum, Norman church and the lunchtime pub in West Hoathly, the second highest point in Sussex.


After lunch, the route is through Giffards Wood then past the Stone Farm climbing rocks (sandstone rocks formed from the bodies of plants and invertebrates, and used as shelters in mesolithic and neolithic times), leading to the shoreline of the Weir Wood Reservoir and nature reserve (home to the great crested grebe, heron and osprey).

The suggested lunchtime stop is the Cat Inn (tel 01342 810 369) in West Hoathly, halfway through the walk, which serves good but fairly expensive pub food from midday 2.30. Or you could stop earlier at Wakehurst Place, about 5km (3 miles) from the start: the Seed Café is in the Visitor Centre while visitors to the gardens also have the choice of lunch in the Stables restaurant. On days when it is open another option would be to have brunch at the Balcombe Tea Rooms


The only place for refreshments near the station is the Starbucks at East Grinstead Sainsbury's (tel 01342 303 167). The suggested tea stop therefore is The Old Mill pub (tel 01342 326 341), about 2km before the end of the walk. Allow 30 minutes from here to reach the station.
From the comments There are a few tea rooms in East Grinstead eg New York Coffee Club http://www.visiteastgrinstead.com/eating_and_drinking/coffee-houses-tea-rooms.php and Bluebells (near the station) http://www.bluebellscafe.co.uk/ and The bookshop in the High Street http://www.eastgrinsteadbookshop.co.uk/

More info here
https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/book_1/walk_34/index.shtml
When you get to East Grinstead station go to the ticket office and ask for an excess ticket. Make sure you show your ticket at the time. If you are lucky they will issue a zero cost ticket on a discretionary basis. (For those with bus passes it is possible to get the bus to Haywards Heath where an excess ticket will cost less than £2.00, if you don't get waved through by the nice man on the barrier.)

Prudential Ride London this weekend!
If you're planning to travel by bus to any of the three (London Bridge, Victoria and Waterloo) departure stations on Saturday, your journey will probably affected by this event.
AD

23, sunny and warm all day
A lovely walk, nice views, lots of lush woods, water features from nearby reservoir, undulating path with manageable distance of just under 11 miles (no short or long cut to confuse or disintegrate the group) can't beat this proven book one old favourite which continues to bring so much joy to many. All stopped at Cat Inn for lunch. This is a gastropub with price and quality to match. 3 took Bluebell railway in the afternoon whilst the rest most ended up at The Old Mill pub for refreshment before catching train back to London.
Most did not have any issues with the Balcombe return ticket (regardless if it was from London bridge or Victoria). We asked the guard at East Grinstead ticket barrier, he let us through without asking any questions. The group did experienced over crowded train from London Bridge some had to stand all the way to Balcombe.
Rumour has it that Bridie timed this walk to coincide with Gay Pride's 25th Anniversary in Brighton.
Although the train was heaving with attendees of same and some folks had to stand, there was a great party atmosphere on board.
However, I must say it was nice to step onto the platform at Balcombe and enjoy the relative calm and stunning vistas in this neck of the woods.
Wed, 01-Jul-15 5

Midweek Day Walk Balcombe to East Grinstead


Balcombe to East Grinstead an Iulius first

Gentle wooded hills, Wakehurst Place Gardens (NT) and a reservoir

Book 1 Walk 34

Length : 17 km or 10.7 miles

Toughness : 6 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:12 am train from London Bridge to Balcombe OR
Catch the 10:02 from London Victoria (departs 10:08 from Clapham Junction) and change at East Croydon to join the London Bridge train there, departing East Croydon 10:25 am.

Meeting point : Balcombe Station at 10:51 am

Brief Description

This walk has a fair number of relatively gentle uphills and downhills, but is well worth the effort. It starts in the old village of Balcombe, passes Balcombe House, and then goes through the woods and by the lake of Balcombe Estate, up to a farm that can be extremely muddy in wet weather, to reach the National Trust gardens and Tudor mansion at Wakehurst Place around mid-morning. From there the route passes through further woods to the Priest House Museum, Norman church and the lunchtime pub in West Hoathly, the second highest point in Sussex
You may find full details here

Suggested Lunch stops

The suggested lunchtime stop is the Cat Inn (tel 01342 810 369) in West Hoathly, halfway through the walk, which serves good but fairly expensive pub food from midday to 2pm Tuesday to Friday. Or you could stop earlier at Wakehurst Place, about 5km (3 miles) from the start: the Seed Café is in the Visitor Centre while visitors to the gardens also have the choice of lunch in the Stables restaurant.

Suggested Tea stops

The only place for refreshments near the station is the Starbucks at East Grinstead Sainsbury's (tel 01342 303 167). The suggested tea stop therefore is The Old Mill pub (tel 01342 326 341), about 2km before the end of the walk. Allow 30 minutes from here to reach the station.

Maps

OS Explorer : 135

Return train times

Trains return from East Grinstead at :07 and :37 minutes past the hour to London Victoria. Change at East Croydon for London Bridge (I know, you new that!)
You need to be careful about tickets on this walk. The two stations are on different lines and the book's advice is out of date. If you're travelling out from London Bridge don't get the cheapest Balcombe return ticket, which is only valid on Thameslink services: this won't be accepted by Southern at East Grinstead for the return journey. An unrestricted off peak return to Balcombe won't go through the ticket barriers there either but in practice this is likely to be waved through. At worst you might be forced to buy an extra single back to East Croydon where the two lines merge.
how about swapping this walk for a seaside one please so people can swim ? going to be too hot to trot..
A tea stop near East Grinstead station that's been popular with SWC walkers for quite a while is Bluebells Café, on the corner of London Road and Railway Approach (01342 458491).
There is also a pub or cafe with a raised terrace at the back on the northerly side of High Street, from memory...
5 sunny hot and humid . initially with cloud cover
Brilliant walk, as always, even more so today, as the often challenging muddy patches were mostly dried out, and plenty of the kilometerage is under tree cover. Modest pace in light of the heat, with frequent stops at benches or under shady trees. Excellent, fast, and cheerful food and service at The Cat Inn. Great company. 16.37 train for two, Sainsbury's for the others.
The directions could do with an update reflecting changed landscape furniture and new housing, but today wasn't the day to take notes, really...
As for the ticket: my London Terminals Balcombe rtn (Any Route Permitted) ticket did NOT impress the gate warden at Grinstead, so an extra Croydon single had to be purchased.
Sat, 12-Jul-14 15 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sun, 30-Jun-13 9 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 20-Aug-11 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 13-Nov-10 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 28-Aug-10 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 22-Aug-09 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sun, 29-Mar-09 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 23-Feb-08 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sat, 25-Aug-07 Balcombe to East Grinstead
Sun, 07-Jan-07 Balcombe to East Grinstead