Haywards Heath Circular via Lindfield walk
A gently undulating walk in the low hills around the Ouse Valley.
Main Walk: 19 km (11.8 miles). Four hours 20 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, buses, sights and meals, allow at least 8 hours 30 minutes.
Short Circular Walk, from Lindfield: 13½ km (8.4 miles). Three hours 5 minutes walking time.
Alternative Walk (to Sheffield Park Garden & Station): 13¼ km (8.2 miles). Three hours walking time.
Bluebell Railway Walk (from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park): 10¼ km† (6.4 miles). Two hours 25 minutes walking time.
† Add 2¼ km (1.4 miles; 30 minutes) if also visiting Sheffield Park Garden.
Explorer 135. Haywards Heath, map reference TQ330246, is in West Sussex, 20 km N of Brighton. Lindfield is 2 km NE of Haywards Heath.
3 out of 10 (2 for all the shorter options).
This walk takes in the low hills on either side of the Ouse Valley, on the southern edge of the High Weald. Earlier versions relied on buses to get to the start and finish points, but a route has now been provided to and from Haywards Heath station to make the walk feasible on days when there is no bus service. There is quite a lot of this expanding commuter town to get through but the link route takes advantage of the Scrase Valley Local Nature Reserve and a few open spaces to minimise the trudge along residential streets.
After passing through a second Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Lindfield the walk route follows the Sussex Ouse Valley Way along the hills to the south of the River Ouse. You drop down to the river at Freshfield Bridges, where the lunchtime pub's nautical name is a reminder of the canal traffic on the Ouse Navigation in the pre-railway era.
The Main Walk's afternoon route loops back to Lindfield on the opposite side of the river, with two chances of a close encounter with a steam train as you cross the route of the Bluebell Railway, one of the oldest and most successful preservation railways in the country. After a break for tea in this pretty Sussex village the full walk completes a circuit back to Haywards Heath.
As with any walk in the High Weald, you will need to be prepared for muddy or waterlogged paths at almost any time of the year.
An earlier version of this walk started in Horsted Keynes and finished in Lindfield, but this made it impracticable on days with a limited bus service to these outlying villages. However, much of the new link route between Haywards Heath station and Lindfield is the same in both directions, so it is worth considering the bus for one of these legs on days when there is a convenient service.
As noted above you may be able to shorten the Main Walk by starting and/or finishing in Lindfield. Directions are also provided for the following two special variations, but the normal public transport options are currently problematic.
One of the original motivations for this walk was to provide an option to visit the National Trust's magnificent Sheffield Park and Garden, and accordingly the Alternative Walk replaces the afternoon section with a short route to this attraction. However, its weekend bus service was withdrawn in April 2019 and so you would have to return on the Bluebell Railway (see below) or call a taxi.
Another motivation was to combine a walk with an outing on this heritage railway. The Bluebell Railway Walk extends the idea of finishing at Sheffield Park with a completely different start: you travel out via East Grinstead and complete the outward journey on the heritage railway to Horsted Keynes, then return along the entire line from Sheffield Park. If you caught the first train out on their standard peak service days you would be able to complete the walk in time to catch the last normal service back to East Grinstead at 4pm; if there was a later train you might also be able to fit in a quick visit to the nearby NT garden.
This second variation has been retained from the previous version of this walk even though it only has a tenuous connection with the revised Main Walk.
Haywards Heath is on the main Brighton line, with frequent Thameslink services from St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge, plus Southern trains from Victoria. The journey time from London Bridge or Victoria is around 40-45 minutes. On the Thameslink route you can get cheap Super Off-Peak tickets from central and north London (Sat, Sun & BH), but these are not valid on Southern services.
Lindfield is served by several bus routes from Haywards Heath, but only one operates on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Metrobus 270 runs hourly (two-hourly Sun & BH) and Metrobus 272 two-hourly (Mon–Sat). There is also an hourly local town service, Compass 30 (Mon–Sat). The last service back from Lindfield is at around 6pm (5pm Sun & BH).
If you are planning to take the bus in both directions you can save money by asking for PlusBus when you buy your rail ticket to Haywards Heath. With a railcard, the additional cost is about the same as one single bus fare.
If driving, Haywards Heath station car park costs £9.20 Mon–Fri, £5.30 Sat, £2.25 Sun & BH (2021). Car drivers might prefer to do the Short Circular Walk as there is a free car park in Lindfield, signposted from the High Street by the Bent Arms.
The only bus service from Sheffield Park Station is on Saturdays, when Compass 121 runs two-hourly to Lewes (last bus 5pm; note that it does not pick up passengers from the NT Garden). In theory you could change at North Chailey for Compass 31 to Haywards Heath, but the connection does not work well.
As noted above, on the Bluebell Railway Walk you travel via East Grinstead from Victoria (half-hourly). To complete the journey you need to buy an All Day Rover ticket on the heritage railway (£27 in 2022, cheaper if bought in advance). This covers the journey back from Sheffield Park and admission to all the station facilities (locomotive shed, carriage works, etc).
If you are starting the walk from Haywards Heath, take the train nearest to 10:00 from London Bridge (or Victoria).
If you are starting from Lindfield, take a train which will enable you to catch a bus from Haywards Heath at around 11-11.30am.
If you are doing the Bluebell Railway Walk, take a train from Victoria to East Grinstead which will connect with the first service to Horsted Keynes.
The only conveniently-placed pub on the walk route is The Sloop (01444-831219) at Freshfield Bridges, 7¾ km from Haywards Heath (5¼ km from Lindfield; 7 km from Horsted Keynes). This has an attractive beer garden and serves food to 2.30pm (3pm weekends), but is closed Mondays (except BH). It reopened in April 2016 after being closed for 18 months while its new owners carried out a major refurbishment.
Even if you are doing the full walk it is worth stopping in Lindfield. A nice tea place in its attractive High Street is the small Somers Vintage Tea Rooms (01444-483993; open until 4.30pm Tue–Fri, 5pm Sat, 4pm Sun, closed Mon) at #64A; further down Field & Forrest (01444-483700; open until 5pm Mon–Sat, 3pm Sun) at #43 is a Deli-Café with a few tables inside.
Alternatively there are three pubs before you reach the bus stop: the Bent Arms (01444-483146) serves tea and coffee and has a large back garden; the others are the Red Lion (01444-484305) at #60 and the Stand Up Inn (01444-482995) at #47.
At the end of the full walk there is a café in the large Waitrose store next to Haywards Heath station, while for stronger fare you could try the Burrell Arms (01444-453214) on the other side of the roundabout. There is also a coffee shop inside the station booking hall and kiosks on the platforms.
On the Alternative Walk the Coach House Tearoom is just outside Sheffield Park and Garden, serving hot food until 2.30pm and tea to 5pm. On the Bluebell Railway Walk ticket holders can get refreshments at the Bessemer Arms on the platform at Sheffield Park station.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Walk Options ( Main )
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- Main Walk (19 km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
If you are doing one of the shorter options from Lindfield, start at §B.
If you are doing the Bluebell Railway Walk from Horsted Keynes, start at §J.
Bear right out of the station, turn right into Perrymount Road and left into the Recreation Ground. Go across this to the B2112 and continue down Oathall Road. Turn left into Penn Crescent and then left again into Scrase Valley LNR. Go all the way through the reserve and continue briefly alongside Scrase Stream. Turn left onto a footpath going past houses to Lindfield's Recreation Ground. Go across this to the B2111 and continue along Eastern Road.
- Go down steps at the London end of the platform to leave the station through its booking hall and bear right across its forecourt to a road. Go past a large Waitrose and turn right at the roundabout into Perrymount Road, heading S (passing the stop for buses to Lindfield).
- Cross the road at the pedestrian lights and continue past Clair Hall. At the end of its car park turn left into a tarmac lane leading to Haywards Heath Recreation Ground, signposted as a public footpath. Keep ahead on a broad tarmac path through the recreation ground, passing a pavilion and climbing gently.
- On the far side take a broad path leading out to the B2112. Cross over at the pedestrian lights and turn left, then take the first right into Oathall Avenue, downhill. In 300m take a path straight across a roundabout and continue on the road for a further 150m, passing a college sports ground on the left. Turn left into Penn Crescent and follow it round a bend to the right, up to a wide gap between houses #35 & #37.
- Turn left here and cut diagonally across a small open area to enter Scrase Valley Local Nature Reserve?. Follow the main path through the woodland, curving round to the right to head E. After a well-signposted diversion around an ancient oak tree keep ahead at a crosspaths, ignoring a footbridge over Scrase Stream on the left.
- Follow the path alongside the stream for a further 400m (ducking under a large pipeline along the way), where you leave the reserve via a footbridge over another branch of the stream. Continue on a surfaced path alongside Scrase Stream for 100m to a path junction in front of allotments.
- Turn left to cross the stream on a footbridge and continue on a short path between houses, across a residential street and along another fenced path. At the end the path turns half-right across a small open space and comes to the southern corner of Lindfield Common. Head for the road on the right-hand side of the common (the B2111).
- The shortest route is to cut across the grass towards a side street about 100m in from the right-hand corner, although you will then have to negotiate a small ditch in front of the road. After doing this, cross the B2111 carefully and continue along the side street (Eastern Road), ignoring Luxford Road branching off to the left. In 300m you pass Newton Road on the left, the route from Lindfield High Street.
Continue the directions at §C.
- From the bus stop at the bottom of the High Street take a passageway heading east past the United Reformed Church. Continue along Newton Road and turn left at the end into Eastern Road.
- The walk starts along a passageway to the right of the United Reformed Church, on the eastern side of Lindfield's High Street near the Post Office. The path leads into Newton Road and you continue along this residential street for 400m, curving gently to the right. The road ends at a T-junction with Eastern Road where you turn left, joining the route from Haywards Heath.
If you are catching a bus from Haywards Heath, leave the station through its booking hall beneath the London end of the platform and bear right across the station forecourt to a road. Go past a large Waitrose and turn right at the roundabout for the bus stop in Perrymount Road. Alight at the Lindfield Post Office stop, just past the large village pond.
- At the top of the road go into Eastern Road LNR and head eastwards across it. Leave at the far side and continue on a permissive path to meet the Sussex Ouse Valley Way (SOVW). Turn right onto this and follow it past Walstead Common, across East Mascalls Lane and past Nether Walstead. Follow the path into Henfield Wood and up to a broad grassy strip running alongside Costells Wood.
Immediately after the junction with Newton Road follow Eastern Road round to the right, ignoring a path ahead which leads to a housing estate. Just before the end of this short cul-de-sac bear left into the small car park for Eastern Road Local Nature Reserve?.
- The directions below are for the most direct route through this small nature reserve to an unmarked exit at its easternmost point, but you could use the reserve map at the entrance to devise a longer route. If you do this, resume the directions at [?].
- For the suggested route take the right-hand path into the reserve, heading E. This soon splits into three and you fork right, then left to take the central path into woodland. Inside the wood fork right, then left again at the next two junctions.
- This manouevre takes you onto a path through scrubland at the edge of the reserve for 100m, with the tree-lined Scrase Stream on your right. Where the path curves sharply round to the left, ford a stream on your right via stepping stones and turn right to leave the reserve.
- Continue on a well-used (and potentially muddy) permissive path heading E through more scrubland and the right-hand side of a meadow. In 200m you reach a T-junction and turn right onto a farm track, joining the Sussex Ouse Valley Way? (SOVW): for the most part you will be following this all the way to Freshfield Bridges.
- The track crosses Scrase Stream on a wide concrete bridge and climbs gently. In 200m, after passing a track off to the right, veer left at a footpath sign onto a narrow path running parallel to the farm track. Follow this path across a couple of footbridges and onto a long driveway leading to a road (East Mascalls Lane).
- Cross the road carefully and take the footpath opposite straight across a field. Cross a driveway and go through a metal gate onto a grassy path going across the next field to the right. On the far side go over a stile and continue past a few houses and a garage into a field. Continue in the same direction across this and the next field towards a wood.
- At the bottom of the second field go through a metal kissing gate, across a footbridge and follow the potentially muddy woodland path round to the right. Another footpath later joins from the right and the path curves slightly to the left. After a steady climb you come out of the trees onto a broad grassy track underneath power lines.
- The suggested route is to detour off the SOVW onto a parallel path through Costells Wood, but you could simply continue along the footpath outside the wood. At the end of the wood follow the path out to Scaynes Hill Common and turn left to the far corner.
The track under the power lines is the continuation of the public footpath, but the directions below are for a more varied route through Costells Wood, which is Open Access.
- For a simpler route you could bear left onto the grassy track, forking right after 350m at a three-way footpath signpost (and temporarily leaving the SOVW); the main route later rejoins from a path on the right. If you do this, resume the directions at [?].
- For the suggested route go straight across the track onto a path to the right of a bench, passing a Woodland Trust sign. Follow the path downhill and round to the left, crossing the outflow from a small pond. After a short climb the path levels out and heads SE through the wood.
- In 150m ignore a path off to the right. In a further 50m, as the main path swings right, fork left onto a faint path into the trees. This soon veers left and takes you down a flight of earth steps. Go around a pond to continue along the bottom of a ghyll, at first with a stream on your left.
- After crossing the stream the path merges with other paths coming down from the left, then crosses another stream on a plank bridge. Keep ahead up a flight of earth steps and follow the main path through a more open part of the wood, later curving slightly to the left.
- At a path junction you can see the track under the power lines off to the left. The narrow path ahead meets the track a little further on, but this has become overgrown and the simplest route is to make for the grassy track and turn right onto it, rejoining the public footpath.
- Follow the track under the power lines, ignoring paths off to the right into the wood and heading SE. After going alongside a parallel driveway on the right for 100m the path leads out through a fieldgate onto Scaynes Hill Common. Turn left and go diagonally across the grass to a car park in the corner, 125m away.
- Rejoin the SOVW, initially along a driveway to Yew Tree Cottage. Follow the SOVW past Nash Farm and Pegden to Hamhouse Stud, across fields and a couple of small woods. Go out to Sloop Lane and turn left for The Sloop Inn.
- Go through the small car park and take the driveway ahead leading to Yew Tree Cottage (rejoining the SOVW). At the end of the drive veer right in front of a tall hedge and go past a fieldgate onto a broad grassy strip between hedges. At the end go through a wooden side gate to continue on a narrow enclosed path leading into a field.
- Bear left to go diagonally across the field. On the far side go through a wooden kissing gate onto a short path past a large oak tree and a pond into another field. Turn right to go along its edge and continue in the same direction across the next field. On the far side go through a metal gate and down a few steps to a lane.
- Turn left and follow the lane round a bend to the right. Just before it leads up to some outbuildings by a house, veer left as indicated onto a track going downhill and curving round to the right through a copse. Ignore a fieldgate on the left. At the end of the track go through a metal kissing gate into the top of a field, with fine views ahead across the Ouse valley.
- Go diagonally down across this field, heading ENE towards a footpath waymarker beside a projecting clump of trees. Keep ahead down a slope, with a fence on your right, and go through a metal kissing gate at the bottom into a wood. Immediately veer left off the main track (which curves round to the right) onto a clear path running along the bottom of a gully.
- Follow the public footpath as it curves gently to the right, with ponds in the trees off to your left. The path continues alongside a fence with a field on the right. At the end keep ahead across a small open area and go through a wooden gate into a small field. Follow a grassy path across it, passing a house on the left.
- In the far right-hand corner go over a stile and turn right onto a driveway, which soon comes to a minor road (Sloop Lane). Turn left to come to the suggested lunchtime pub, The Sloop; if you cross the road here you can reach it through its car park and beer garden.
If you are doing the Alternative Walk (to Sheffield Park Garden), go to §M.
- Head north on Sloop Lane, crossing the River Ouse. Where the lane bends left, take the footpath on the right going up across a field and over the Bluebell Railway. Follow the path past paddocks and then across a field to Town Place. Turn right briefly onto Ketche's Lane, then take the footpath heading north past Bluebell Vineyard and through a wood. At the end turn left onto a farm track to come to Freshfield Lane.
- Turn right out of the pub to head N on Sloop Lane, taking care as you have 350m of road walking with no pavement. You soon cross two bridges, the first over the disused Ouse Navigation? and the second over the River Ouse itself. Ignore a footpath on the right at Freshfield Mill Farm and stay on the road up to a left-hand bend, where you turn right at a footpath sign.
- Instead of going into the field ahead veer left up a bank and follow a path through a few trees to a stile leading into the bottom corner of another field. Go over the stile and turn left to head N again, directly uphill. As you climb through the field you will see a brick bridge ahead which takes you over the Bluebell Railway?.
- On the other side keep ahead on a woodchip track between fences. This goes downhill and then curves right, where you turn left at a footpath sign. Cross a stream in the hedge and bear left to follow a grassy path up a field, towards the left-hand end of a garden hedge. Continue alongside it, soon with a view into an attractive garden dotted with fruit trees.
- At the end of the garden veer right to go through a wooden gate and continue briefly along a minor road (Ketche's Lane), passing a large old house called “Town Place” on the right and a small pond on the left. Immediately afterwards turn left through a side gate to head N up the right-hand edge of a large field, with Bluebell Vineyard? beyond the fence on your right.
- After going through a couple of wooden gates the path leads into a wood. Follow the path through the wood and then along the left-hand edge of another field. In the corner keep ahead through a belt of trees to a T-junction with a farm track. Turn left and follow this track out to a road (Freshfield Lane).
- Turn left onto the road, then take a footpath on the right which skirts around a large clay pit, part of Freshfield Lane Brickworks. Follow the path down through a wood, alongside a large flooded clay pit and up to Treemans Road. Go across this and take the footpath opposite going down through paddocks. Cross the Bluebell Railway track, then Danehill Brook and Cockhaise Brook. Continue across a field and along a farm lane to Monteswood Lane.
- With the driveway to Latchetts opposite, cross Freshfield Lane carefully and turn left to walk along the grass verge. In 100m (and 25m before reaching another driveway) turn right at an inconspicuous footpath sign onto a short path climbing through the trees. This soon comes to a fence festooned with warning notices in front of a huge clay pit.
- Turn right and follow the path as it curves left alongside the perimeter fence of Freshfield Lane Brickworks?, 500m away on the left. After 200m you turn left to go along the left-hand side of a broad grassy strip, now with the quarry behind a bank on your left.
- Follow the path into a wood and continue on the waymarked route down through the trees for 400m, with “Keep Out” notices to keep you on the right path. The path eventually swings right and goes across Danehill Brook on a wooden footbridge onto a potentially muddy area churned up by works vehicles, with a large flooded clay pit ahead.
- Turn left and make your way across this rather unappealing area. After passing a vehicle access track keep left on a path through woodland, staying fairly close to the lake. In 200m follow the path round to the right and uphill. In a further 75m go over a new wooden stile and immediately turn left down a few steps to a lane (Treemans Road).
- Cross the lane carefully to continue on the footpath opposite (slightly to the left). Go through a wooden gate in the belt of trees and follow the waymarked route as it heads roughly SW for about 300m, gently downhill across a series of paddocks. Eventually you reach the bottom corner of a field where a short path takes you across the Bluebell Railway track.
- Go over Danehill Brook on a footbridge and along a short raised path through a belt of trees. At the end go through a wooden gate and cross a wide concrete bridge over Cockhaise Brook into the bottom of a large field. Bear slightly right up the slope on a faint grassy path towards an exit in its far right-hand corner. Go out along a short track to a junction of farm tracks, turn left and follow the track for 250m to Monteswood Lane.
Turn right onto the road and continue on the footpath heading west from Cockhaise Farm to Montes Hill. Turn left onto this road (which becomes East Mascalls Road) and follow it for 500m. After crossing the River Ouse turn right onto a footpath heading west alongside the river, then across fields to join the SOVW at Hangman's Acre. Head west towards Lindfield, staying on the SOVW to come out at the top of the High Street by the church. Head south down the main road to the bus stop outside the Post Office.
- Turn right onto the road, passing Cockhaise Cottages. In 75m, where the road bends right, keep ahead on a farm track. Go past a barn and then through a metal kissing gate into a large field, which might be partitioned with wire fences. Follow the line indicated by several large oak trees ahead, which lead you across the field to a gate into a wood.
- Follow a short path through the coppice to a road (Montes Hill) and turn left. You have 500m of road walking with a few awkward bends to negotiate, so take care as there is no pavement for most of the way. You pass the entrance to a golf club on the right and the gates to East Mascalls on the left. After a left-hand bend at the top of a short rise you pass this attractive old house with its walled garden. Further down the road you pass East Mascalls Farm.
- After the road crosses the River Ouse at East Mascalls Bridge immediately turn right through a metal gate into the corner of a large field. For the next 750m simply follow the tree-lined field edge alongside the river. After the river has curved gently round to the right, and 150m before the end of the field, turn left onto a grassy path heading directly away from the river.
On the far side of the field go through a gap in the trees and across a footbridge with metal handrails. Continue up the right-hand side of the next field. In the top corner go over a stile and keep ahead on a track between fences. In 300m keep ahead at a footpath junction into a meadow, Wilderness Field.
- The walk route originally took the right-hand path because there was no defined right of way across the meadow, but this has now been designated as a public footpath. You could take the original route if you want to visit All Saints? church, with a slightly longer walk down the High Street.
- On the suggested route the meadow path curves gently round to the far left-hand corner. Go through (or around) a gate onto a narrow path alongside a garden fence. At the end keep ahead along Brushes Lane, passing the first of the village's refreshment places on the left, the Bent Arms.
- To continue the walk turn left to go down the attractive High Street into the centre of Lindfield?. Along the way you might find some shops and restaurants advertising tea and cakes, but the main places are the Somers Vintage Tea Rooms and Red Lion pub on the left after 200m, with the Stand Up Inn and Field & Forrest (a small delicatessen) on the right after a further 100m, opposite the Post Office.
If you are finishing the walk here, buses leave from the stop outside the Post Office. At Haywards Heath alight at the Perrymount Rd/Stn stop, just past a roundabout and opposite a large Waitrose store. Cross Perrymount Road at the roundabout and go past the store (which has a café) on your left to reach the station entrance.
To complete the full walk continue past the village pond, then bear left across Lindfield Common to the opposite corner. Follow a footpath past houses and across Scrase Stream, then turn right to enter Scrase Valley LNR. Take the right-hand path and follow it all the way through the reserve to come out onto Penn Crescent. Turn right onto this street. At the end turn right again onto a residential street leading to the B2112. Turn left briefly onto this road, then right onto a footpath going across Haywards Heath Recreation Ground. On the far side turn right into Perrymount Road and left at the roundabout for the station.
To complete the full walk back to Haywards Heath, continue down the High Street. After passing the attractive village pond bear left onto a corner of Lindfield Common. Keep the cricket pitch on your right and then go diagonally across the grass to the opposite corner, where you pass some tennis courts on your right. Go past a small parking area onto a tarmac path across a small open space.
The remainder of the walk is the reverse of the outward route from Haywards Heath.
- Continue on a short fenced path between houses, across a residential street and along another path. Immediately after crossing Scrase Stream on a footbridge turn right at a three-way path junction onto a path alongside the stream, which in 100m leads you into Scrase Valley Local Nature Reserve?.
- Fork right and follow the main path all the way through the reserve, ignoring paths off and keeping the stream on your right for the next 400m, where you enter woodland. After a diversion around an ancient oak tree keep left at the remaining path junctions to emerge from the trees in the corner of a small open space.
- Go diagonally across this and turn right into Penn Crescent. In 200m turn right at a T-junction and follow the road down past a college sports ground, straight across a roundabout, then uphill for 300m to a main road (the B2112). Turn left, cross the road at the pedestrian lights and continue on the broad path leading into Haywards Heath Recreation Ground.
Keep ahead on the main path down through this open space, past a pavilion and out along a driveway to Perrymount Road. You can see the station ahead but you have to turn right onto the main road, cross over at the pedestrian lights and turn left at the roundabout (passing a large Waitrose store, which has a café) to reach the station entrance.
- Turn left out of the station and go up through a picnic area. At the top of the slope take the footpath on the right alongside Leamland Wood. Turn right briefly onto a lane, then take the footpath on the left down through a wood to Mill Lake. On the far side turn left and follow a footpath around Old Mill House and up through a wood to St Giles church. Go through the churchyard and continue along Church Lane to the village green.
- Turn left out of the Bluebell Railway? station?. Go past the visitors' car park and up a grassy slope, used as a picnic area. At the top turn right and go through a metal kissing gate onto a path heading E alongside Leamland Wood. At the end go down an earth bank and turn right onto a minor road. In 100m go over a stile on the left into a strip of grassland dotted with trees.
- Follow a grassy path through this semi-open area and continue on a woodland path going downhill for 350m, ignoring ways off. At the bottom of the wood turn right at a three-way footpath signpost onto a grassy path. This curves gently to the left around Mill Lake and comes to a path crossing where you turn left.
- After passing a brick and timber barn, with a house ahead, turn left onto a wide grassy path alongside the garden of the picturesque Old Mill House?, with the old mill and its restored water wheel on the far side. At the end of the garden follow the path round to the right as it becomes a potentially muddy track climbing through a wood. At the top you come to a T-junction with Church Lane, with a school opposite.
- Cross the lane and go a short distance along the school driveway opposite, then turn right onto a brick path through the churchyard. St Giles church? is worth visiting and you might like to explore the churchyard too. Leave by the path from its south door to rejoin Church Lane by some attractive old cottages.
- Follow the lane across a dip, passing the imposing gates to the Old Rectory on the left. As you climb towards the centre of Horsted Keynes? keep ahead at a road junction to go more steeply uphill on a broad tarmac path. At the top veer left as indicated (to a safer crossing point) and cross the main road carefully onto the south side of the long village green.
- Head south-east out of the village on Chapel Lane and then Wyatts Lane, signposted as the Sussex Border Path (SBP); a footpath to the left of Wyatts Lane avoids some of the road walking. Continue on the SBP through Sandpits Wood, across Danehill Brook and up to Freshfield Lane. Turn right onto the road and then leave the SBP by taking the second footpath on the left, towards Kidborough Farm.
- From the road junction opposite the path from the church take the lane signposted to the village car park. Where it turns sharply right go straight ahead on Chapel Lane, signposted as the Sussex Border Path? (SBP) and heading SE. In 200m keep ahead at a junction to join a tarmac lane, which curves gently round to the left.
- At the end of a sharp right-hand bend turn left through a wooden gate to the right of a gravel driveway onto an inconspicuous public footpath (briefly leaving the SBP). This short path goes between a bungalow and a hedge, parallel to the lane. Go over a stile into a field and continue near its right-hand edge, then go through a gate onto an enclosed path. After briefly joining a driveway veer right and left to rejoin the SBP.
- After descending gently for 200m keep left at a path junction to enter Sandpits Wood. Continue along the main path as it descends and curves gradually round to the left, ignoring a couple of footpaths off to the right. In 600m the path widens and veers left and right to cross Danehill Brook. Follow the track uphill, turning left near the top of the slope. This leads to a tarmac driveway and you turn right onto it, climbing again.
- The drive eventually levels out, with a hedge on the right and a wire fence on the left. As indicated by a footpath signpost, bear left onto a grassy path alongside the fence. This comes out onto a road (Freshfield Lane), where you turn right. Go along the road for 250m (leaving the SBP, which takes an earlier turning on the left to Butchers Barn) and turn left into the driveway to Kidborough Farm, signposted as a public footpath.
- Fork right off the farm drive and head south on a footpath past Bluebell Vineyard to Ketche's Lane. Go around Town Place onto a footpath which crosses over the Bluebell Railway. Join a road and head south along it for 250m to The Sloop Inn at Freshfield Bridges.
- The driveway curves right to head S. In 200m turn right onto a short track leading into a field, with a glimpse of the South Downs ahead. Go along the right-hand field edge and then through a wood. At the far end follow the path through a pair of wooden gates to continue along the left-hand edge of a large field, with Bluebell Vineyard? beyond the fence on your left.
- In the field corner go through a side gate and turn right briefly onto a minor road (Ketche's Lane). After passing a large old house called “Town Place” bear left through a wooden gate into a field. Follow a grassy path round to the left alongside the house's attractive garden, dotted with fruit trees. At the end bear slightly left to go down to the bottom corner of the field.
- Cross a stream on a wooden footbridge and turn right to go uphill on a woodchip track between fences. Near the end veer right and left to go over the Bluebell Railway on a brick bridge. Keep ahead across a large field, gently downhill and heading towards a road.
- In the bottom field corner go over a stile on the right and follow a path through a few trees, down a bank and out to a road. Turn left onto the road and follow it round a right-hand bend, taking care as there is no pavement. In 250m you pass Freshfield Mill Farm and then cross two bridges, the first over the River Ouse and the second over the disused Ouse Navigation?. Just after this you come to the suggested lunchtime pub, The Sloop.
Just past the pub, turn left onto the Sussex Ouse Valley Way (SOVW) and follow this through Wapsbourne Wood. Go out past Wapsbourne Farm to the A275 and turn left to reach the approach road to the Bluebell Railway station at Sheffield Bridge over the River Ouse.
To visit the NT Garden continue briefly along the A275, then take a permissive path on the right through South Park to the garden entrance. Return the same way.
- To visit the NT Garden continue briefly along the A275, then take a permissive path on the right through South Park to the garden entrance. Return the same way.
- Turn left out of the pub (or leave through its beer garden and car park). 50m past its car park entrance, turn left into the driveway to “Bacon Wish” and “Field Cottage”, joining the Sussex Ouse Valley Way? (SOVW): you will be following this all the way to Sheffield Bridge. After passing between the two houses keep ahead on a track leading into a wood.
- In 100m, with a “Private” sign ahead, turn half-right onto a narrow path through the trees, initially heading SE. Follow this clear path for 400m, eventually leaving the wood through a new wooden gate. Keep ahead across a field; as you approach some trees and a three-way footpath signpost bear left to stay in the field. After going between some rows of newly-planted trees go through another wooden gate into Wapsbourne Wood.
- Follow the path through the coppice for about 500m, heading roughly E. The waymarked path then takes a couple of right turns and briefly joins a broad track before another “Private” sign makes you turn half-left to head S. Continue gently downhill in this direction for 250m to reach the edge of the wood, where a wooden footbridge takes you over a ditch onto the edge of a large field.
- Turn left and go along the wide grassy field edge for 300m. At the corner of the field go over a stile and turn right to go alongside a wooden fence, then through a gate and along a driveway. Follow this round to the left by a stable and go past a large old house (Wapsbourne Farm). Now simply continue along this driveway for 500m as it heads E towards the A275.
- Just before reaching the main road, turn left as indicated along the edge of a field, with the road behind the hedge on your right. In the next corner go out onto this busy road and cross over with care to continue along a wide grass verge. In 300m you come to the entrance to the Bluebell Railway in front of Sheffield Bridge (where the SOVW turns right to follow the River Ouse downstream).
To Sheffield Park Garden and back (+2¼ km)
- Continue along the A275 past the station approach road, crossing the River Ouse. Shortly after passing an overspill car park for the Bluebell Railway, turn right off the road onto a signposted path through some trees.
- Go through a wooden gate into the National Trust's South Park, where an information panel shows some short circular walks around this parkland. For the NT Garden take the broad grassy path gently uphill, slightly away from the fence on the right.
- As you pass to the left of a clump of trees on the horizon you will see the NT car park ahead. Leave the parkland via a kissing gate and veer left through the car park to find the entrance to Sheffield Park and Garden? at the back.
- The Coach House Tearoom is down a short driveway to the left of the garden entrance, just past the gates to Sheffield Park House? (not open to the public).
After visiting the garden and/or tearoom retrace your outward route through South Park. Turn left onto the A275 to return to Sheffield Bridge.
- To complete the walk, go up the station approach road. The bus stop (Saturdays only) is at the far end. For the heritage railway, keep ahead on a pedestrian walkway leading to the Bluebell Railway station?. Ticket holders can get refreshments at the Bessemer Arms? on the station platform.
If you want to visit the NT Garden or its parkland before heading to the Bluebell Railway station, follow the directions below.
- Scrase Valley Local Nature Reserve was originally part of a farm on the floodplain of Scrase Stream. When Haywards Heath expanded after WW Ⅱ it would have been deemed unsuitable for building and the 15-acre site has become an important refuge for wildlife.
- Eastern Road Local Nature Reserve was originally a landfill site and sewage works. Much of the 9-acre site has been left alone to regenerate naturally.
- The Sussex Ouse Valley Way runs for 68 km, closely following the course of the River Ouse from its source in Lower Beeding to Seaford.
- The Bluebell Railway began operating a steam railway between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes in 1960, just two years after British Rail closed the line from East Grinstead to Lewes. In 1994 it was extended north as far as Kingscote, and after a major project to clear a cutting of landfill waste the link to East Grinstead was eventually restored in 2013.
- Bluebell Vineyard was planted in 2005 with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. It produces the Hindleap range of sparkling wines and (since 2019) the Ashdown range of still wines.
- Freshfield Lane Brickworks (now part of Michelmersh plc) produces 32 million bricks annually. Wealden clay has been used to make bricks on this site for over 100 years.
- All Saints, Lindfield dates from the 13thC or possibly earlier, but it underwent two major restorations in Victorian times and there is little trace of the medieval church.
- The name Lindfield means ‘open land with lime trees’ and these are still in evidence along its attractive High Street, full of picturesque old buildings. A plaque near the village pond records its regular wins as Best Kept Village in Sussex; there are no recent triumphs because (it is said) the village was asked to withdraw to give others a chance.
- Horsted Keynes Station has been re-created as it was when part of the Southern Railway network in 1935. It is surprisingly large for a sleepy country station on a secondary line, some way from the village it was built to serve. There is a £2.50 admission charge for non-travellers when trains are running, rather more than the 1d platform ticket in 1935.
- Old Mill House was built around 1450. The old wooden mill with overshot water wheel was still being used 500 years later and remains in working order.
- St Giles, Horsted Keynes is oriented towards the midsummer sunrise instead of the usual E-W, so was probably built on the site of a pagan temple. There may have been a church here in Saxon times and it still has some Norman features. In the north wall of the chancel a small figure of a Crusader with a lion at his feet is thought to be a ‘heart shrine’. The graves of Harold MacMillan (Prime Minister 1957-63; later the Earl of Stockton) and members of his family are to the east of the church, surrounded on three sides by a hedge.
- The name Horsted means ‘a place where horses are kept’. The Saxon manor was given to the Norman knight Ralf de Cahaignes by William the Conqueror. The anglicized version of his name changed over the centuries to Keynes but the pronunciation stayed as canes, not keens.
- The Sussex Border Path runs for 240 km along the length of West & East Sussex, from Thorney Island on the Hampshire border to Rye.
- The headquarters of the Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station has been re-created as it was when part of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway network at the end of the 19thC. An admission charge (£5 when trains are running; may be redeemable against purchases) lets non-travellers access the platforms, locomotive shed, refreshment room, etc.
- The Bessemer Arms is named after the doughty lady who fought British Rail's plan to close the line. Although ultimately unsuccessful her spirited attempts spurred the formation of the heritage railway.
- Sheffield Park and Garden was laid out by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18thC and further developed by its owner in the early 20thC. Set around four lakes, it is renowned for its rhododendrons and azaleas in early summer and stunning tree colours in autumn, but is worth visiting at almost any time of the year.
- Originally a Tudor manor house, Sheffield Park House was extensively remodelled in the 18thC in the then-fashionable ‘Strawberry Hill Gothic’ style. It remained in private ownership when the National Trust bought the Garden in 1954 and is not open to the public.
» Last updated: March 7, 2022