The old walk was Forest Row to Sheffield Park, and was - for all intents and purposes - not that attractive (train plus bus at the start, occasional and expensive steam train at the end), and never got posted again after its first outing in 2008, and most parts of its route now feature in other walks in the area anyway. So, it was time for a complete revamp.
Length: 31.6 km (19.7 mi) or 22.5 km/14.3 mi to Sheffield Park (Bluebell Line Terminus)
Ascent/Descent: 451/534m or 336m ascent to Sheffield Park
Net Walking Time: ca. 7 hours or 4 ½ hours to Sheffield Park
Toughness: 8 out of 10 or 5 out of 10 to Sheffield Park
Take the 09.23 service from Victoria to East Grinstead (CJ 09.29, EC 09.41, then all stations to Grinstead), arriving 10.18.
Return trains from Wivelsfield: xx.21 (Thameslink), xx.31 (to Victoria), xx.51 (Thameslink), xx.53 (change Burgess Hill).
Buy an East Grinstead return, you then will have to buy an additional single from Wivelsfield to East Croydon.
This route in the East/West Sussex boundary lands descends from East Grinstead into the Upper Medway Valley and past Weir Wood Reservoir and then meanders through an undulating landscape of hills, streams, ponds, heaths and mixed woodland, rich in bluebells and wood anemones in season. For the most part, it largely shadows the course of The Bluebell Line steam railway, and lunch is either in tranquil Horsted Keynes or in Scaynes Hill, near the (Sussex) Ouse River. Later you pass through several parts of the large Chailey Common heathlands and continue westbound through flatter ground – mostly pastures with fine South Downs Views – to Burgess Hill (for Wivelsfield station).
An Alternative Finish at Sheffield Park, the terminus of the Bluebell Line, for a return to East Grinstead by steam train (last trains at 16.00 and 17.15) or to Haywards Heath by bus (last at 17.01, change in North Chailey), is described, as are other alternatives to shorten the route (see page 2 of the pdf).
Note: the notoriously mud-prone descent from East Grinstead has gotten worse, if anything, as it is now fenced for the particularly mud-prone part.
, walk directions
, height profile
and gpx/kml files
Tea: The Sloop Inn
(as above), and one pub in Wivelsfield
, 600m beyond the station; or The Bessemer Arms
in Sheffield Park