Ardingly Reservoir

14-Oct-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Great Saucelands, Ardingly

23-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Balcombe Place

14-Oct-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Through River's Wood

22-May-17 • Sean O'Neill

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Old railway embankment near Copyhold Lane

23-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Old railway embankment near Copyhold Lane

23-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Old railway bridge at Copyhold Lane

23-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Haywards Heath to Balcombe via Ardingly walk


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: Sun, 24-Jan-21

Date # Post
Wed, 04-Mar-20 6

Balcombe Circular via Ardingly

Balcombe Circular via Ardingly T=swc.174

Length: 16¼ km (10.1 miles). Four hours walking time. 5 out of 10

This is a variant of a walk from Haywards Heath: "much of its outward route has been taken from Walk 1–16 and the “Summer Walk” part of Walk #22."

Trains: The 1004 Thameslink Brighton train from London Bridge (St Pancras 0950 East Croydon 1018) arriving 1046. The fare is £12.90 so no network railcard discount. Note that the fare from Clapham Junction on the 1002 (change at East Croydon) is more expensive, so you will need your railcard. Return trains are xx52 & xx22

Lunch: the Ardingly Inn (01444-892214) in the centre of the village, serves food to 2pm. Also the Ardingly Café and the village bakery.

Tea: The suggested tea place is the popular Balcombe Tea Rooms (01444-811777; open to 4pm, (may stay open later if called in advance). The alternative is the nearby Half Moon Inn, a community pub which serves tea and coffee all day as well as stronger fare. The station is a 7-8 minute walk along roads from the centre of Balcombe; longer if you take one of the nicer routes to end the walk.
5 off the train for an enjoyable morning section with the rain holding off and manageable mud. We were joined halfway through by our friend from Sevenoaks, so 6. Leaving 4 to picnic in the church porch as light rain started, 2 went to the friendly Ardingly Arms, to be joined later by 3 picnickers, with 1 not waiting.

The rain set in so 2 took a short cut by road back through the village, 1 went exploring & 2 of us decided to do the main walk. Although the rain soon stopped this turned out to be a a boot testing slog across saturated fields & very muddy paths, only improving somewhat when we reached the reservoir. Note to self: a lovely walk for dry conditions only!

Explorer returned the short way after picnic lunch straight from the church along the North side of the reservoir. All very muddy underfoot but quite an atmospheric view of the water and sky. Right before reaching Balcombe village there was indeed such a large puddle, which I confidently crossed in my knee high gum boots but to my surprise sank in well over my calves 😬😬. Had my boots been any looser, I would have lost them. A large piece of cake washed down with a pot of hot tea was a well deserved end before catching the 2.50pm back to London. Sporty day out. Never call us the Fair Weather Club again.
Sat, 06-Jul-19 12

Saturday Walk – A (slightly different) Balcombe Circular via Ardingly

Extra Walk 174a – Balcombe Circular, via Ardingly
Length: 16¼ km (10.1 miles). Toughness: 5/10

10:05 Brighton train from London Bridge (East Croydon 10:19), arriving Balcombe at 10:46. You can also catch this Thameslink service earlier on its route, eg. West Hampstead 09:39, St Pancras 09:50, Blackfriars 09:59.

A quirk of the ticketing regime is that you can get a cheap Super Off-Peak return to Balcombe from Thameslink stations in central London, but only the (more expensive) regular Off-Peak return from other stations like Clapham Jct and East Croydon.

Trains back from Balcombe are now half-hourly, at xx:22 & xx:52.

We typically post three or four Balcombe Circular walks of some description each year, and as the last was six months ago I've stepped in with this little-known variation. You'll recognise large chunks of the route from other SWC walks but there are some less familiar stretches to keep you guessing, including a new footpath right at the start.

The most conveniently placed lunch pub is the Ardingly Inn, but if you enjoyed the Gardeners Arms on a similar walk last year you could follow the longer route in §6b to revisit it. The extra 1½ km might imperil your tea stop, but if you call the Balcombe Tea Rooms they may stay open past 4pm. If not, the nearby Half Moon Inn is a good alternative. And if you've had a reviving cuppa, why not try the slightly longer alternative route back to Balcombe station, an arc around the hill on the other side of the railway.

You'll need to bring the directions from the Haywards Heath to Balcombe walk page. Clicking the 'a. Circular Walk' option before printing will save a good few sheets of paper on this multi-option walk. T=swc.174.a
12 I think (including the poster) on this walk in much hotter than forecast weather with sunshine all day. One walker (you know who I mean) possibly went off piste to explore the Ouse Valley Way passing Great Bentley and Ryelands farm. (The front gardens of Rylands Farm were apparently exquisite). There were may visitors at the sailing centre at Arlington Reservoir enjoying the balmy sunshine and water. I guess some walkers visited Ardingly for lunch with others continuing alongside the reservoir. A cricket game was in full swing (pardon the pun) back at Balcombe where the Cafe shut just after 3pm : ( however, the Half Moon was at hand as a plan B refreshment stop. Those walking down the public footpath back to the station would have spotted the game of bowls taking place en route. Nice to have two trains an hour back to London where there was plenty of seating (unlike the morning service!)
Sat, 04-Aug-18 18

Saturday Walk – Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes

Extra Walk 174c – Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes, via Little London
Length: 15 km (9.3 miles). Toughness: 5/10

10:16 Eastbourne & Littlehampton train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 10:23, East Croydon 10:33), arriving Haywards Heath at 11:01. Or take the Brighton (Thameslink) train from St Pancras at 09:50 (London Bridge 10:05), arriving ten minutes earlier at 10:51. I suggest meeting up downstairs in the booking hall, rather than hanging around on the platform.

Buy a return to Haywards Heath. A cheap Super Off-Peak fare is available on the Thameslink route, although it will restrict you to the half-hourly Thameslink trains for the return journey.

At the end of the walk you'll need to take Metrobus 270 for the 20-minute journey from Horsted Keynes to Haywards Heath, where there are frequent trains back to London. Buses are hourly at around xx:39 until 16:39, then 17:52 (last). You could also take a bus in the opposite direction to East Grinstead (later buses at 18:40 & 19:29), but the staff there might quibble at a Haywards Heath train ticket.

The Ardingly Inn features as the lunch spot on several SWC walks and after one such outing someone suggested that the Gardeners Arms would be a better choice. It's not in the best location for our walks (1½ km north of the village, on the B2028) but a splinter group were pleased with it on a Balcombe Circular walk in February and so this new Haywards Heath-Horsted Keynes walk option has been devised to go past it. You should be able to get a table in its garden but it would be advisable to call ahead if you want to eat inside.

The walk itself includes a short stretch alongside Ardingly Reservoir but elsewhere is mostly undulating countryside typical of the High Weald. In the afternoon there's a scenic trackside path where you might find a Bluebell Railway steam train chugging past; you could in fact divert to the heritage railway station and pick up the 270 bus from there, or even take a (fairly expensive) train ride to East Grinstead.

You'll need to bring the directions from the Haywards Heath to Balcombe walk page. Clicking† the word "Alt." next to Walk Options will include the directions for both of the Alternative Walk routes to Horsted Keynes, giving you the option of switching to a slightly shorter walk via the Ardingly Inn.

Documents like this one use snippets of Javascript code for the various 'click here' features. For these to work you might have to specify as a 'trusted site' in your web browser, as its default security option will probably be set to not run code from other web pages. T=swc.174.c
This is a nice walk with wooded areas and cheap train fare (£7.65 day return with the Network Card from Kings' X). There is an option to take Metrobus 272 from Ardingly Hapstead Hall near the lunch pub back to Haywards Heath at 13:16 and 15:16 or to Three Bridges at 12:11, 14:11, 16:11 if the heat is too unbearable. Thanks for posting this
Thanks Anonymous for the bus times above as I intend to finish the walk at lunch time.
London Bridge to Haywards Heath on the train that was servicing the Brighton Pride Massive was not a good idea but by scooting around something like 18 of us managed to get to the start of this walk on time. I take my hat off though probably not in this weather to the fellow walker who had said that she would miss this walk as the trains would be crowded. Foolishly I didn't believe her. Ha.

We could get a calendar together that would list these annual events so that posters would be forewarned. Events like Pride, Henley Regatta and all the other annual events ( right now I can't think of any as it appens)

For most of the morning we were led by an insouciant walker most of you will know who he is and he certainly does and thanks to him we didn't put a foot wrong though 4 stragglers managed to make a complete dogs breakfast of it and ended at Balcombe each to their own as they say.

The walk was Hard, far more than a 5 out of 10 in this heat though insouciant guy reckons the scale now goes up to 14 out of 10 so this should be a 9.

One of the walkers commented that this must be how a rotisserie chicken feels.
Talking of chicken, lunch at The Gardeners Arms had a good selection and friendly fast service not fine dining but good all the same.

Then another 4 or 5 miles to Horsted Keynes (during which time we lost Insoucisant as he met up with his mucker from earlier in the day) for tea, water and numerous ice creams.

Bus to Haywards Heath and a joyfully empty Thames link train to LB for a return ticket price of £7.65 after railcard discount
No complaints
Lovely walk but I must choose an easier one next week
Weather was HOT so thank God (and the walk poster) for the wonderful woods which even smelled delicious.
Actually, we do have such a calendar of sorts, but I forgot about Pride. Now I think of it, I ought to put the Eastbourne and Bournemouth Air Shows on it...

I would like to thank Sean for posting this wooded walk (I reckon more than 1/2, may even be 2/3 of the walk is in the woods or some sort of shade) very thoughful and considerate given the hot weather in addition to the option of taking a bus at lunch pub in fact Metrobus 272 stop is right outside the pub.
Sat, 20-May-17 8

Horsted Keynes-Balcombe Walk – Water features in the High Weald

Extra Walk 174b – Horsted Keynes Station to Balcombe
Length: 18 km (11.2 miles). Toughness: 5/10

09:25 Brighton (Thameslink) train from London Bridge (East Croydon 09:42), arriving Haywards Heath at 10:10. If it's more convenient you can take the 09:17 Eastbourne & Littlehampton train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 09:23), arriving Haywards Heath at 09:59. However, note that there are no Thameslink services through central London this weekend. Buy a return to Haywards Heath (if you're travelling to/from London Bridge you can take advantage of a cheap Thameslink-only ticket).

At Haywards Heath make your way to the Perrymount Road bus stop near the station and take Metrobus 270 towards East Grinstead at 10:21, arriving Horsted Keynes Station at 10:36 (single fare £3.20). If you forget to get off at the Bluebell Railway station you can start the walk from the Church Lane stop in the village instead.

Short Walk Option: Take the train/bus one hour later than all the above times and do Option a, a 13 km (8.1 mile) walk. You might well bump into the main group as it loops back to the point where the two routes meet.

The Thameslink trains back from Balcombe are hourly at 22 minutes past until 19:22, then a long gap and hourly again from 20:59. Change at East Croydon for Clapham Junction or Victoria.

Walks requiring a bus journey to the start aren't ideal, but starting from a heritage railway station in the middle of nowhere is more interesting than the suburban environs of Balcombe or Haywards Heath. In the morning you'll have an undulating walk across typical Wealden countryside, going via the hamlet of Highbrook to a pub lunch at the Ardingly Inn. The afternoon is less strenuous, with an unusual section through the grounds of a leading independent school and a long final stretch alongside Ardingly Reservoir. You should reach the Balcombe Tea Rooms before 4pm, but they'll usually stay open later if called in advance. There are several possible routes from the village to the station so you can choose the one which best coincides with the arrival of the hourly train.

You'll need to print the directions from the Horsted Keynes to Balcombe Walk page. If you print the full document (instead of clicking the “Stn.” Option first) you could switch to the Haywards Heath start if the 270 bus doesn't turn up. T=swc.174.b
5 plus 3 turning up for lunch only, fine (as told by a Glencoe tripper)
Glencoe tripper's report was a little unfair on the three "lunchers", who in fact all did the Balcombe Circular version of the walk (in my case because local train cancellations made getting to Horsted Keynes too much of a pain). So I'd have said 8.

I've belatedly concluded that the transport arrangements for a Horsted Keynes to Balcombe walk are too awkward generally, so the Haywards Heath and Balcombe starts been promoted and Horsted Keynes relegated to an alternative ending.
Sun, 31-May-15

Sunday Walk – A variation on a theme

Extra Walk 174c – Balcombe Circular, via Ardingly
Length: 16½ km (10.3 miles). Toughness: 5/10

10:27 Brighton train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 10:33, East Croydon 10:43), arriving Balcombe at 11:17.

Trains back from Balcombe are hourly at 30 minutes past.

The main Extra Walk 174 requires a bus journey to the starting village of Horsted Keynes, but as these no longer run on Sundays I've chosen this walk's circular option. In the last ten years there have in fact been nearly 40 “Balcombe Circular” outings of one sort or another, and I hope the author of the original walk via Ardingly Reservoir forgives the shameless way in which this one mixes'n'matches chunks of its route as well as (in reverse) part of the Book 1 walk. I thought walkers ought to get the chance to try this one before the fracking industry returns to Balcombe with a vengeance and little oil wells start popping up along the walk route.

For the time being, then, there should be good views from the mainly high-level route to Ardingly. In the afternoon you go through the grounds of a leading independent school, followed by a long (and doubtless familiar) section alongside Ardingly Reservoir.

Unless the Oak Inn has reopened Ardingly now has just one pub, the Ardingly Inn. You should get there at around 1.15pm; make a booking if you want a table inside. Faster walkers should reach the ever-popular Balcombe Tea Rooms by 4pm but call ahead if you won't: they may stay open later. The Half Moon Inn is a good alternative. The walk document gives several possible routes from the village to the station so you can choose the one which best coincides with the arrival of the hourly train.

You'll need to print the directions from the Extra Walk 174 page. Clicking the 'c. Circular Walk' option will save a good few pages on this multi-option walk. If you also bring along the directions for Extra Walk 22 you'll find that you can switch between the two at several places, eg. if you want to do a longer afternoon route via Wakehurst Place.
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Mon, 05-May-14 Haywards Heath to Balcombe via Ardingly
Sat, 22-Mar-14 5 Horsted Keynes to Balcombe
Sat, 23-Mar-13 Horsted Keynes Station to Balcombe (long walk)
Sat, 09-Feb-13 18 Haywards Heath to Balcombe via Ardingly