A Bluebell Railway train chugs by

06-Apr-13 • Sean O'Neill

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Costell's Wood

27-Oct-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Middle Lake, Sheffield Park and Garden

21-Sep-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Lindfield village pond

01-Oct-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Footpath near Leamland

29-Sep-11 • Sean O'Neill

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River Ouse, Freshfield

19-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Ouse Navigation, Freshfield

19-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Haywards Heath Circular via Lindfield walk

A gently undulating walk in the low hills around the Ouse Valley.


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.

Updated: Thu, 17-Jan-19

Date # Post
Sun, 30-Dec-18 8

Hayward's Heath via Lindfield

SWC Walk 141: Haywards Heath Circular T=SWC.141

Distance: 11.8 Miles or 19.0 km for those more metrically minded

Difficulty: 4 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:57 AM Brighton Southern service from London Bridge (stopping at East Croydon at 10:12), arriving at Haywards Heath at 10:41. Return trains from Haywards Heath are very frequent…. Buy a day return to Haywards Heath.

This walk explores the low hills on either side of the Ouse valley on the southern edge of the High Weald. It passes through two nature reserves: one (the Scrase Valley Local Nature Reserve) en route from Haywards Heath and the other on the outskirts of Lindfield. You may also spot the Bluebell Railway running its holiday service in the afternoon. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

The recommended lunch spot is the Sloop Inn (01444-831219) at Freshfield Bridges (5 miles/ 7¾ km from the start) with food served until 3pm. Tea and other late afternoon refreshments can be had at various establishments along the attractive High Street in Lindfield (see walk notes for suggestions).

Enjoy the walk!
Hi Guys Anyone doing this walk? Hope to see some of you at London Bridge or at Hayward Heath station. Super off Peak for SNR is £7.65.
8 on this walk, of which at least two had intended to do the Greensand Way but were thwarted by the train from London Bridge being delayed past the point it could have met the connection, then cancelled along with all subsequent ones that morning. Haywards Heath by contrast has many trains each hour.

Misty and overcast, which added atmosphere to the steam train on the Bluebell Railway when we saw it through the trees.

An efficient welcome for five in the Sloop Inn at Freshfield Bridges, where food quality and price were a little higher than average. Very respectable roast potatoes.

Food took a moment long to arrive, for which reason it was well dark by the time we concluded the walk. It's fortunate that the last couple of kilometres are in lit suburban streets. It might have been better to start this one a little earlier.
I forgot to mention the clouds of insects presumably woken up by the misapprehension that the warmth meant it was spring.
The clouds of insects are 'winter gnats': quite normal on mild still days at this time of year. They have evolved to have their mating swarms at this time of year to avoid predators. and habitats/winter gnat
In general you will find that insects are not as easily fooled by mild weather as you might think. Lots are in a dormant state in winter: this is true of ladybirds, shield bugs, spiders, queen bumble bees, queen wasps and some butterflies. On a mild day they may emerge and look for food but soon go back to dormant when it turns cold again. This is true eg of the ladybirds you may see crawling up your windows, if they have wooden frames, on a sunny winter day.

Honeybees live in hives all winter they feed on the honey they have made in the summer and so are ready to come out whenever food is available. I saw some on winter flowering cherry this week and you routinely see them on crocuses in February.
Sat, 30-Sep-17 23

Haywards Heath Circular via Lindfield - Low hills in the Ouse Valley

SWC walk 141 - Haywards Heath Circular via Lindfield

Main walk: 19km (11.8 miles)
With bus at end: 16km (9.9 miles)
Bluebell Railway ending: 12km (7.5 miles)

Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.42 train from London Bridge (9.56 East Croydon) to Haywards Heath, arriving 10.27

You can also get....

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Haywards Heath, arriving 10.29

9.10 from St Pancras International Thameslink platforms (9.22 Blackfriars) to Haywards Heath, arriving 10.18

Best ticket: READ CAREFULLY: If you travel from London Bridge or St Pancras you can get a Super Off-Peak Day Return to Haywards Heath valid only on Thameslink, for £7.40 (with a Network Card). You must travel back on London Bridge/St Pancras services if you buy this ticket. Otherwise (eg from Victoria or if you want a choice of routes on the way back) the fare is £14.85 (off-peak return). See bottom of page for best ticket for Bluebell ending.

For walk directions click here. For GPS file click here.

It has been a while since this walk had a Saturday airing. It doesn't offer rocket, bells and poetry - this is gentle countryside, a bit woody, only gently hilly - but you may get the distant (or not so distant) hoot of a steam train. There is a bit of Haywards Heath suburbia to get through to begin with, but the walk takes an ingenious route making use of open spaces and a nature reserve.

Lunch is in a small-ish pub in the middle of nowhere - a big group might try and stagger its arrival. Food is served till 3pm.

After lunch there is a possible Bluebell Railway ending: see the end of this post

Tea is in one of several places in the pretty village of Lindfield, which despite being on the outskirts of Haywards Heath still has a country feel.

From there the walk repeats its outward route through Haywards Heath, but you can avoid this by taking a bus from Lindfield. This is the 16km (9.9 mile) version of the walk. The buses include the 31 at 35 past the hour till 17.35, the 30 at 55 past the hour until 17.55, and the 270 at 16.53 and 18.06. After this you are relying on Shanks's Pony, free and available till all hours of the night.

Trains back from Haywards Heath go at
- 17 and 48 past to London Bridge
- 26 and 56 past to Blackfriars and St Pancras
- 14 and 44 past to Victoria


A route is provided in the walk document that links the lunch pub with Sheffield Park station on the Bluebell Railway, Britain's oldest and most iconic steam railway, and then to Sheffield Park Gardens (National Trust). It is just 5.3km (2 miles) from the lunch pub to the station and another 1km to the gardens, making this a total walk from Haywards Heath of 12km (7.5 miles). The station is the headquarters of the Bluebell Railway and there is lots to see and do there even if you don't take a train. Both it and Sheffield Gardens have a tea room.

However, getting back after your visit is not quite straightforward. The Bluebell has a 5.15 train to East Grinstead - expensive but atmospheric - but alas there are gargantuan engineering works on the normal railway from East Grinstead to Victoria this weekend, involving a one hour bus replacement journey, so you just don't want to go there. (Just for the record, the 17.15 steam train gets to East Grinstead at 17.55 and you would then get the 18.08 replacement bus service to Purley, arriving 19.11, take the 19.15 train to East Croydon, change there for the 19.34 to Victoria, arriving 19.50.)

The alternative - not as ridiculous as it first appears - is to get the 121 bus at 17.01 (only!) from Sheffield Park station or 17.05 from Sheffield Park Gardens (which shut at that time anyway) to Lewes arriving 17.33. This would connect you to the 17.54 or 18.16 train from Lewes to Victoria. To do this option, ideally you should buy a day return to Lewes in the morning - £18.50 with a Network Card. But if you decide to do this ending on the spur of the moment, a single from Lewes to Haywards Heath costs just £4.45 with a Network Card. You can't use your cheap Thameslink ticket on the Lewes-Victoria trains, but you can change at Haywards Heath and pick up a London Bridge or Thameslink service there (a few minutes wait for a London Bridge train, with the St Pancras one shortly after as a back-up): in total you would then have paid £11.85 on the train fare, plus whatever the Sheffield Park to Lewes bus costs. T=3.141

23 on this walk on a day that was mostly cloudy with bit of sun and a tiny bit of rain. The “official” train from London Bridge was cancelled but 9 still managed to get to Hayward’s Heath by a slightly later connection. They caught up mid morning with the 14 of us who came on the Victoria train (thanks to H for recovering the trekking pole I had left on the bridge).

We had a pleasant walk across wood and field. Good flecks and patches of autumn colour. The first proper mud of the autumn (sigh!) but only a few short sections that were trying. The Sloop Inn was not busy and we all ate in its garden. Top marks to it for having at least four bar staff (I suspect that at busier times they act as waitresses).

In the afternoon the two of us who were dawdling behind botanising were lucky enough to see a steam train go past just as we crossed the Bluebell Line for a second time. In Lindfield we discovered a tea room Somers Cafe that was not in the walk directions the village seems to have a lot of them. Some got the bus from here but at least three of us walked back to Haywards Heath: not at all far and it is quite interesting to revisit the outward route and see how much of it one remembers. I can confirm that the new Waitrose Cafe by the station at Haywards Heath is a stunner though we did not stop, having already had tea.
Sun, 03-Sep-17

Exploring the Sussex Ouse valley

Haywards Heath Circular via Lindfield
Length: 19km (11.8 miles) Toughness: 4/10

09:47 Ore train from Victoria (Clapham Junction 09:53, East Croydon 10:03) arriving at Haywards Heath at 10:30.

Return trains to Victoria are at xx:25 and xx:41 (journey time 46 minutes). Return trains to St Pancras International are at xx:03 (change at Three Bridges for Victoria) and at xx:33 (journey time 1 hour 8 minutes).

After leaving the suburbs of Haywards Heath, mainly via an attractive nature reserve, this walk takes in the low hills on either side of the Ouse valley on the southern edge of the High Weald, following the Sussex Ouse Valley Way, The route crosses the line of the Bluebell Railway, where steam trains may sometimes be seen.

The only convenient lunch pub on the route is the Sloop Inn (01444 831219) at Freshfield Bridges. There are options for tea in Lindfield and back in Haywards Heath near the station.

The last three kilometres of the walk reverses the outward route through Haywards Heath, though it’s possible to avoid this by taking a five-minute bus journey back to the station from Lindfield on one of the infrequent Sunday buses (15:08, 17:05).

One of the walk options is to divert after lunch to the National Trust’s magnificent Sheffield Park and Garden, where you’d then need to catch a no. 769 bus back to Haywards Heath (buses at 15:38 and 16:43 (last bus)).

You will need to download the Walk Directions.

Now I might do the Walk on Sunday. But I can't Guarantee I will. Not only that. Not only you can go from London Waterloo on the day. You can also go from London Victoria as well. But the only problem is that you need to change at Gatwick Airport for another Train.
Thanks for spotting the mistake in the walk post, Marc. The Haywards Heath train does of course leave from Victoria, not Waterloo. Now corrected.
Sat, 21-May-16 6

Saturday Third Walk – the Ouse Valley

Extra Walk 141 – Haywards Heath to Lindfield
Length: 16 km (9.9 miles). Toughness: 3/10

Or complete a Circular Walk back to Haywards Heath: 19 km (11.8 miles), 4/10

10:05 Brighton train from London Bridge (East Croydon 10:19), arriving Haywards Heath at 10:48. If you are travelling out on this service from London Bridge and will also be returning on a Thameslink train, you can get a very cheap Super Off-Peak return to Haywards Heath.

Thameslink trains are not running through central London this weekend, but tickets should be accepted on the Underground if you need to connect between (say) St Pancras and London Bridge.

From Haywards Heath there are Thameslink trains back to London Bridge at 23 & 56 minutes past the hour, and (more expensive) Southern trains to Victoria at 14 & 44 minutes past.

If you decide to skip the last 3 km after tea in Lindfield you'll need to catch a bus (£1.80): there are frequent services into Haywards Heath until about 6pm. Metrobus services 270 & 272 go down the High Street at 1555, 1600, 1700, 1755 & 1810. In addition, Sussex Bus 29 runs half-hourly to Sainsbury's (near the station) and you can take it in either direction: at xx18 & xx48 down the High Street (last bus 1748) or xx04 & xx34 up the hill (to 1804).

This ill-fated walk has had several major revisions and suffered a major blow when its only feasible lunch pub closed in 2014, ostensibly for refurbishment but often the prelude to demolition. Slightly to my surprise the Sloop Inn did in fact reopen last month, so we'll give this walk a try while it's still up and running.

To reduce the reliance on buses to the walk's original start in Lindfield, there's now a route to/from Haywards Heath station. There's quite a lot of this large commuter town to get through but the route takes advantage of a long narrow nature reserve. The rest of the walk is through undulating countryside typical of the Sussex Weald. The area's main tourist attraction is the Bluebell Railway and if you're lucky you'll see a steam train chugging past at one of the places where you cross the line. Its name also implies that you'll get to see some Hyacinthoides non-scripta along the way, though well past their best.

You'll need to print the directions from the Walk 141 page. Clicking the word 'Main' on the Walk Options heading line will cut out the directions for the two alternative walks bundled in with this one. T=swc.141
6 on this walk: 5 on the train and the walk author, who drove to Lindfield and who we met in the lunch pub. The weather was cloudy with rain for a time after 3pm, spits and spots at times otherwise and occasional bright patches. Warm enough to make wearing waterproofs a bit irksome.

The revised route for this walk which starts in Hayward's Heath is no great hardship. It does take a while to clear the town but for the most part the route is through a perfectly rural nature reserve. Four of us were happy to walk back the same way at the end of the walk. Otherwise this was a walk of gentle fields and woods, which could be very muddy in winter but were fine at this time of year. Nice woodland flowers (yellow pimpernel, wood speedwell, wild garlic) though several good bluebell woods were of course all over. In one field there were very young foals and we saw a pen of cute duck chicks on one farm.

The newly re opened Sloop was welcoming for lunch and served nice food. We briefly sat outside, before spits and spots of rain forced us inside. It was pleasantly busy so let's hope it stays open.

The three front markers saw a Bluebell Railway steam train past: the three of us at the back saw wisps of smoke through the trees. Lindfield was a very cute town and had a nice tea room. All in all a creditable day out.
Sun, 21-Sep-14 8 Haywards Heath to Sheffield Park and Garden
Sat, 18-May-13 22 Horsted Keynes Station to Sheffield Park Station
Sat, 22-Sep-12 Lindfield Circular (original version, withdrawn)
Wed, 23-May-12 Lindfield Circular (original version, withdrawn)