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Through Stumblewood Common

23-Sep-11 • Sean O'Neill

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MacMillan Clump, Ashdown Forest

29-Sep-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Old Mill House, Horsted Keynes

02-Oct-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Old Mill House, Horsted Keynes

02-Oct-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Broadhurst Lake

02-Oct-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Horsted Keynes Station from Leamland Bridge

26-Aug-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Through Ashdown Forest

23-Sep-11 • Sean O'Neill

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Horsted Keynes Circular walk

A varied walk from the deep wooded valleys of the High Weald to the elevated heathland of Ashdown Forest, with a section alongside the Bluebell Railway. Travel by bus

Horsted Keynes Circular
Length

Main Walk: 17¾ km (11.0 miles). Four hours 30 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 10 hours.

Alternative Start, from the station: 18¾ km (11.7 miles). Four hours 45 minutes walking time.

OS Map

Explorer 135. Horsted Keynes, map reference TQ384282 (village), is in West Sussex, 7 km NE of Haywards Heath.

Toughness

5 out of 10 (4 for the Short Walks).

Features

This walk explores the undulating countryside between Ashdown Forest and the village of Horsted Keynes (pronounced canes: see Walk Notes), strung out along a broad village green with its interesting parish church of St Giles perched on a neighbouring hill. Harold MacMillan (Prime Minister 1957-1963) lived in Birch Grove House (passed on the walk route just before Chelwood Gate) and he and members of his family are buried in the churchyard.

After half a century walkers can once again access this area via a railway line, as the Bluebell Railway (one of the oldest and most successful preservation railways in the country) has restored the link to East Grinstead. However, you would need to check their current timetable to ensure that you can complete the walk before the last train back. Even if you don't travel this way all the walk options except those with the morning short cut go alongside the railway for almost 1 km, so there is a good chance of seeing a steam train chugging by. You also have the opportunity to visit the nicely-preserved Horsted Keynes station.

A more practical method for travel to and from this walk is on Metrobus 270 (see Transport below).

As with any walk in the High Weald, you will need to be prepared for muddy or waterlogged paths after wet weather.

Walk Options

Shorter routes are described for both the morning and afternoon sections, reducing the walk by 2¼ km and 3 km respectively. The first omits the interesting section alongside the Bluebell Railway but goes past a series of attractive fishing lakes. The second takes a more direct route from the lunch pub, omitting the loop around Ashdown Forest.

An Alternative Start option is available from the Bluebell Railway station, for times when the 270 bus calls there on its way to the village. At the end you can choose whather to complete a (slightly longer) circular walk or finish in the village. The afternoon short cut is also available with this variation.

You could in fact start and finish the circular walk at several other places as the 270 bus route takes in Chelwood Gate, Wych Cross and Chelwood Common; the directions point out the locations of the relevant bus stops.

This walk shares the same lunch pub in Chelwood Gate with Extra Walk 23 (Forest Row Circular: also on the 270 bus route) and you could combine the morning of one walk with the afternoon of the other. Also, Extra Walk 174b (the Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes option) covers the same ground between Horsted Keynes and the Bluebell Railway crossing, in the reverse direction.

Transport

This walk has been designed around Metrobus 270, which runs hourly (two-hourly Sun & BH) between Brighton, Haywards Heath and East Grinstead. The bus stops at the western end of the village green, and at the Bluebell Railway station on weekends. It is quicker to travel via Haywards Heath but it is useful to be able to return in either direction; the last service to Haywards Heath is at around 7pm (6pm Sat, 5pm Sun & BH), but there are one or two later services to East Grinstead (Apr 2017).

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.

If you travel out and/or back via East Grinstead it has a half-hourly Southern service from Victoria, taking around 55 minutes. The 270 bus stop is on the station forecourt.

Haywards Heath and East Grinstead are on different lines, and a return ticket to one is not valid from the other. You would normally have to buy an extra single to East Croydon, where the two lines merge. However, if you ask nicely an “Any Permitted” return ticket to Haywards Heath (though not a “Thameslink only” one) might just be accepted at East Grinstead.

If driving, there are free car parks in Horsted Keynes village and at the Bluebell Railway station.

Suggested Train

You should aim to start the full walk at around 10.30-11am, for example by taking a train to Haywards Heath which will connect with the Metrobus 270 service at around 10:20 (on the current timetable). If you catch a later bus, consider doing one of the shorter starts.

Train Times

Lunch

The most convenient lunchtime pub is the Red Lion (01825-740265) in Chelwood Gate, after 9 km on the Main Walk and 7¼ km on the Alternative Start. This up-market country pub/restaurant serves food until 2pm (later at weekends), but is closed all day on Mondays. The alternative is to make a short detour later on to the Roebuck Hotel (01342-823811) at Wych Cross.

If you start from one of the alternative locations such as Wych Cross, you could have lunch at one of the pubs in Horsted Keynes (see below).

Tea

There are two friendly pubs in Horsted Keynes village for refreshment at the end of the walk, the Crown Inn (01825-791609) and the Green Man (01825-790656); both are normally open all day at weekends. Alternatively, you could catch the bus first and have tea while waiting for the train: there is a café in the large new Waitrose next to Haywards Heath station, plus other refreshment options in and around the station.

If you finish at the Bluebell Railway station the George V refreshment room on Platforms 3&4 is open “on busy days and weekends” according to the Station Guide.

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Start: Horsted Keynes, West Sussex Directions

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Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jun-17

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Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Horsted Keynes Circular

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map: Horsted Keynes Circular Walk Map

Walk Options ( Main | Alt. )

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (17¾ km)
  1. Main Walk, omitting Bluebell Railway (15½ km)
  2. Main Walk, omitting Ashdown Forest (14¾ km)
  3. Short Walk, with both short cuts (12½ km)
  4. Alternative Start, from the station (18¾ km)
  5. Alternative Start, ending in the village (16½ km)
  6. Alternative Start, omitting Ashdown Forest (15¾ km)
  7. Alternative Short Walk, with both short cuts (13½ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

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 new Waitrose and turn right at the roundabout for the 270 bus stop in Perrymount Road. Unless you are doing the Alternative Start, alight at the Church Lane stop in Horsted Keynes village.

If you doing the Alternative Start from Horsted Keynes station, go to §4.

  1. Horsted Keynes (village) to St Giles Church (½ km)
  2. Head north on Church Lane to St Giles church.

    If you arrived in Horsted Keynes1 by bus, go back a few paces from the Church Lane stop to the road junction at the western end of the long village green, where you can see the church in the valley to the north.

    Go past vehicle barriers onto the unsignposted lane heading N towards the church, joining the Sussex Border Path2 (SBP). Go down the slope and keep ahead at a crossroads, joining Church Lane. You pass the impressive gates to the Old Rectory on your right, and some attractive old cottages. After climbing gently go through a gap in the hedge into the churchyard of St Giles3.

    After visiting the church take the brick path past its western end. You can return to Church Lane by going up to the village school and turning left, or forking left just before this onto a path past Spring Cottage. Opposite the school driveway there is a three-way footpath signpost.

    If you are doing the shorter morning route (omitting the Bluebell Railway), go to §3.

  3. St Giles Church to Leamland Bridge (1¾ km)
  4. From Church Lane take the footpath heading west from the school, down through a wood and round Old Mill House. Keep right to pass Mill Lake and take the first of two footpaths on the left up through a wood to a minor road. Continue on a footpath alongside Leamland Wood to the picnic area above Horsted Keynes station. Before continuing the walk to the right you could detour down to the station buildings on the left.

    Take the potentially muddy track heading W off Church Lane, signposted as a footpath and leaving the SBP. After going downhill through a wood for 250m it bends left to go around the garden of the picturesque Old Mill House4, with its old mill and restored water wheel on the far side. Follow the path round to the right in front of a brick and timber barn to reach a path junction and turn right.

    Keep to the main path around Mill Lake5, avoiding lakeside paths used by anglers. After bending to the right around an outflow you come to a three-way footpath signpost, with another one up ahead by a fieldgate. Turn left at the first signpost to go uphill on a woodland path, heading NW.

    Continue in roughly the same direction for 350m until you emerge into a strip of grassland dotted with trees. Follow the path through this area and turn right onto a minor road. In 100m, with an isolated house on the right, turn left up an earth bank into the corner of a large field. Follow an enclosed path around its left-hand edge, with Leamland Wood on your left. In 400m go through a metal kissing gate into an open area.

    Unless you want to detour to Horsted Keynes station6 on the Bluebell Railway7, follow a track ahead and round to the right (or cut across the grass) to a parking area in the far corner of the field.

    • Detour to Horsted Keynes Station (+½ km)
    • Veer left down the slope (a picnic area for visitors) and go past the right-hand side of the car park onto a short access road leading to the station buildings. Afterwards, retrace your steps to the picnic area and follow a track all the way up the left-hand side of the field.

    Continue the directions at §4.

  5. St Giles Church to Chilling Street direct (2¼ km)
  6. Head north from the church on a bridleway past Broadhurst Lake and a series of fishing ponds. Go up Broadhurst Manor's driveway and turn left onto Hurstwood Lane. At a T-junction turn right and head north on Chilling Street for 250m.

    For the shorter morning route turn right onto Church Lane, signposted as a bridleway and heading N. After passing some houses keep left across a parking area to go downhill on a woodland track. In 300m you pass the attractive Broadhurst Lake5 on your right, followed by a series of six fishing ponds on your left.

    At the end of the last pond fork left to go up a slope, soon with a high stone wall on your right. Turn right at a T-junction (with Garden House on the left), passing a large pond on your left. Follow the driveway round a bend to the left (with the imposing iron gates of Broadhurst Manor8 off to your right) and all the way out to a lane.

    Turn left onto the lane, which goes uphill and round a bend to the right. At a T-junction turn right onto a minor road (Chilling Street), signposted to Forest Row and East Grinstead. In 250m, just before an isolated house on the left, the main route rejoins from a footpath on the left and you turn right onto the continuation of the footpath, leaving the SBP.

    Continue the directions at §5.

  7. Leamland Bridge (or Horsted Keynes Station) to Chilling Street (2¾ or 3¼ km)
  8. If starting the walk here, go past the station buildings and up the left-hand side of the picnic area. In the top corner veer left to cross the Bluebell Railway on Leamland Bridge. Follow the footpath down and round to the right to return to the railway. Head north along the embankment for 500m, then cross the track and head north-east along field edges to Horsted Lane. Join the Sussex Border Path to head east across two wooded valleys to Chilling Street.

    • From Horsted Keynes Station (+½ km)
    • If you arrived by bus go up the approach road and past Horsted Keynes station6 on the Bluebell Railway7 (or turn left if leaving the station). Go past the car park and follow a track all the way up the left-hand side of a large picnic area.

    In the top left-hand corner of the field veer left through a small parking area onto Leamland Bridge, crossing over the railway. On the far side turn right onto a track curving down to the left. At the bottom follow an enclosed path round to the right and then back towards the railway, through a small plantation. Go over a stile and head N along the railway embankment for 500m, with fine views on both sides.

    The path eventually comes to a designated crossing point where you cross the track carefully. Continue alongside the railway on the left-hand edge of a field, climbing gently above the track as it goes into a cutting. At the top of the field go straight across a farm lane and over a stile onto a fenced path along the edge of a field. Continue on a faint grassy path near the right-hand side of two more fields.

    The exit from the last field takes you onto a grassy path around the bottom of a garden and then down a driveway. Cross the road (Horsted Lane) and turn left to go along a wide grass verge. In 50m go through a wooden gate in the hedge ahead into a field, joining the Sussex Border Path2 (SBP). Follow a grassy path round to the right, passing a small brick hut on your left and with a large house (Tanyard Manor) off to your right. At the bottom go through another gate into a wood.

    Cross a narrow concrete dam at the head of a pond and turn left onto a path climbing through the wood. At the top turn left and go around two edges of a very large field, heading NE and then SE. In the bottom field corner go down into another wood, across a stream and up to another large field. Follow an enclosed path around its left-hand edge to the top corner. Go through a gate and straight across a lane (Chilling Street) onto the continuation of the footpath, leaving the SBP.

  9. Chilling Street to Twyford Lane (2 km)
  10. Take the footpath heading east across several fields to Balcombe Lane. Continue through Grinstead Wood and Twyford Farm and go along its driveway. Cut across a patch of grass and go through a small wood to Twyford Lane.

    Go over a stile to the left of a fieldgate and head E along the left-hand edge of three fields for 600m, at first alongside a low fence and later a hedge. In the fourth field follow a grassy path slightly to the left (passing a couple of isolated trees), eventually coming out via a double metal fieldgate onto a lane.

    Cross the lane and continue through a wooden kissing gate into Grinstead Wood. The path soon turns left to head N, with a wooded valley down on the right. In 400m follow the main path down to the right (where the path ahead leads into a field). Go downhill between hedges, across a stream on a concrete bridge and then straight ahead up the other side of the valley.

    The path comes out past the buildings of Twyford Farm and you bear right to leave on its driveway, initially heading SE. In 200m two more drives merge from the right. The driveway swings left but you should keep ahead across a patch of grass dotted with trees.

    If there is no clear path across the grass you could continue along the driveway for 250m and turn sharp right onto Twyford Lane; the main route rejoins from a grassy track on the right in 150m. If you take this longer but simpler route, continue the directions in the next section.

    For the direct route (on the right of way) follow the grassy path towards a wood, heading E. Go through a gap in the trees and across a track (slightly to the left) onto a woodland path. This is rather indistinct but if you continue in much the same direction you will come out onto a broad grassy track in less than 100m. Turn left to reach Twyford Lane and turn right to go downhill on the road.

  11. Twyford Lane to Chelwood Gate (2 km)
  12. Go down Twyford Lane for 200m and then fork left onto a footpath through Stumblewood Common, climbing steeply on the far side. Turn left onto Birchgrove Road. Opposite Birch Grove House go onto the edge of Ashdown Forest and follow a ride parallel to the road to MacMillan Clump. For the Red Lion, head south for 250m to the A275 at Chelwood Gate.

    Go down Twyford Lane for 200m. As the lane curves right, fork left at a footpath signpost onto a tarmac driveway leading to a couple of houses. Where the drive turns sharply left, bear right as indicated by a footpath marker. You will be following this footpath through the wooded Stumblewood Common for nearly 1 km.

    The path initially heads S and then curves left, with a stream down to the right and a field visible through the trees on your left. 150m from the driveway the path crosses a side stream on a long wooden footbridge and continues near the left-hand edge of the wood for a further 400m. The path then veers right to cross the main stream on another footbridge and begins a long and fairly steep ascent, with pine woods on the left beyond an ancient boundary bank. In 200m keep ahead at a three-way signpost to reach Birchgrove Road in a further 150m.

    Turn left onto the road and follow it for 200m, round a bend to the right. Opposite the entrance gates to Birch Grove House9 turn left onto a broad track leading into a wooded area on the edge of Ashdown Forest, then in 40m fork right. Shortly before reaching a cricket pitch (with a log across the path ahead) turn right onto a grassy ride heading SE. This goes across a dip (coming close to Birchgrove Road at a bend) onto an open part of Ashdown Forest, then 150m later forks in front of MacMillan Clump10.

    If you are doing the full walk but not visiting the Red Lion, you can fork left in front of the clump and then turn left at a T-junction. If you take this short cut, continue the directions at [•] in the next section.

    To go to the pub, pass to the right of the trees and bear right at a junction of rides to head S. The ride comes out at the junction of Birchgrove Road with the A275, with the Red Lion on the other side of the main road.

    If you want to finish the walk here, buses for Haywards Heath stop outside the pub and those for East Grinstead directly opposite, just before the road junction.

    If you are doing the shorter afternoon route (omitting Ashdown Forest), go to §9.

  13. Chelwood Gate to Wych Cross Reservoir (1½ km)
  14. From the pub return to MacMillan Clump and head north on a ride parallel to the A275. In 1 km follow the ride as it bears right and go across the A275 to a junction of rides at a corner of the covered reservoir. To detour to the alternative lunch pub, head north to the junction of the A22 and A275 and continue along the main road to the Roebuck Hotel at Wych Cross.

    Turn right out of the pub and go back across the main road. Retrace your steps along the ride towards MacMillan Clump and bear right in front of the trees.

    [•] Follow this broad ride for 1 km, which soon crosses a driveway and straightens out to head N. Ignore turnings off to a car park on the A275 on your right. Shortly before going alongside a wood on your left the ride passes Kennedy Clump10 on the right, although you might like to detour around it to see the stone memorial on the far side.

    After going alongside the wood for 250m the ride eventually swings right to meet the A275 just before Reservoir car park. Cross the road carefully and continue on the grassy ride opposite, heading E through the trees. In 75m you come to a major junction of rides, with a corner of the covered reservoir ahead on your left.

    Unless you want to visit the Roebuck Hotel (or finish the walk) in Wych Cross, turn half-right to take the second ride on your right.

    • Detour to Wych Cross (+1 km)
    • Turn left at the junction onto a ride heading N. In 50m go through the car park onto a grassy track between trees. In 100m you pass Wych Cross Clump10 in the trees on your right, and 125m later emerge onto a muddy patch of grass between the A275 and A22. The Roebuck Hotel is on the right-hand side of the A22, but it is safer to cross the A275 and then go up to the traffic lights to cross this very busy main road.

      If you want to finish the walk here, the 270 bus stop for Haywards Heath is between the hotel and the traffic lights and the stop for East Grinstead opposite.

      To resume the walk, retrace your steps across the A22 and along the grassy track to the Reservoir. After going across the car park, turn half-left at the junction of rides near the corner of the reservoir.

  15. Wych Cross Reservoir to Chelwood Common (2¾ km)
  16. Head south-east from the junction of rides by the reservoir and continue in this direction for 750m, across Ashdown Forest. At a major junction of rides in front of a wood turn right to head south, later joining a long straight ride in the same direction. Soon after this curves right, turn left and follow a ride across a stream. Go under a brick arch to leave Ashdown Forest on a fenced path leading to a residential road at a T-junction. Go straight across and continue down Stone Quarry Road. In 600m fork right, staying on the main road.

    From the junction of rides head SE on a broad ride for 750m. You soon emerge from the trees onto open heathland (with the A22 behind a line of trees away to your left) and ignore ways off until you come to a major path junction in front of a small wood.

    At this junction take the second ride on the right, heading S. In 200m you pass a large new pond on the left and continue for a further 650m, with the ride finally curving left to come to a T-junction with a long straight ride, an old airstrip11. Turn right and follow it downhill for 400m.

    As the ride curves to the right ignore a grassy path on the left, but 25m later turn left onto a horse ride heading SW, downhill into trees. After crossing a stream on a wide footbridge fork right up a slope. Go under an old stone arch on the boundary of Ashdown Forest and follow the enclosed path out to a residential road at a T-junction. Go straight across this to continue on Stone Quarry Road.

    If you want to finish the walk here, there is a 270 bus stop for Haywards Heath at the top of this road.

    Go down Stone Quarry Road for 600m, forking right at the bottom of the slope to stay on the main road. 50m after this fork, the shorter afternoon route rejoins from a footpath between houses on the right.

    Continue the directions at §10.

  17. Chelwood Gate to Chelwood Common direct (1¼ km)
  18. Head south briefly on the A275, then turn left into Beaconsfield Road. Turn right into Sandy Lane and veer left onto a footpath heading south through woods and fields. After a short climb between houses turn right onto Stone Quarry Road.

    For the shorter afternoon route turn left out of the pub to go alongside the A275 for a short distance, then turn left into Beaconsfield Road. In 200m, where the road turns half-left, turn right into Sandy Lane. In 60m the lane turns right but you bear left onto a tarmac driveway, with a concrete footpath marker. In 60m veer left at a ‘Footpath’ sign onto a grassy path through a lightly-wooded area.

    Keep to the right of a low garden fence and continue on a path between trees. At the end go through a wooden kissing gate into a field and follow a faint grassy path across it to the far corner. Go through another gate onto an enclosed path, with a wooden boardwalk over a potentially muddy stretch. The path later dips to cross a stream, then climbs between hedges. At the top go over a stile and along a gravel driveway past a house. Turn right onto Stone Quarry Road, rejoining the main route.

  19. Chelwood Common to Birchgrove Road (3¼ km)
  20. Head south-west on Stone Quarry Road and take the first turning on the right (Box's Lane). At the bottom of a long slope take a footpath heading south-west along the edge of a wood, then fork right to climb through it. Go through the grounds of Cumnor House School to the A275. Cross the main road to take a footpath alongside a hedge. At a T-junction turn right onto a bridleway leading into a wooded valley. At the bottom turn left onto a footpath alongside a stream. Follow this path up through fields and then past farm buildings to reach Birchgrove Road at a sharp bend.

    Head SW along Stone Quarry Road for 150m and then turn right at a signpost for Box's Lane. Follow this narrow lane round to the left and gently downhill for 750m. At the bottom of the slope take the second of two footpaths on the right, going virtually straight on where the lane bends left. Pass to the left of Holly Cottage and follow this muddy path downhill and across a stream on a long stretch of boardwalk.

    At the end of the boardwalk keep ahead at a three-way signpost (where a footpath joins from the left) but 50m later fork right at another footpath signpost to climb up the side of the wooded valley. As the path levels out it curves right and comes to a path T-junction where you turn right. Follow the path out of the wood into the grounds of Cumnor House School. Keep ahead to join a track into a parking area and bear right in order to pass to the right of a large new building under construction.

    Be aware that the right of way might change when the construction work is completed; there have been temporary footpath diversions here.

    After passing the new building bear left to find a kissing gate in the hedge ahead and go through it onto a grass verge alongside the A275. Turn left and go along this for 40m, then cross the main road carefully and go over a stile to the left of a metal fieldgate. Go along the left-hand edge of a large field (with good views ahead) and stay alongside the hedge where it bends left.

    At the end of the field do not go through a large gap in the hedge ahead, but turn right in front of it to continue with the hedge on your left (as indicated by a partly concealed signpost on the left). Follow this bridleway along the edge of a field and later downhill into a wood, heading W.

    At the bottom of the valley you come to a path junction in front of a reed-covered pond where you turn left onto a broad grassy track signposted as a public footpath, initially heading SW. This bends right and later becomes less defined as it enters a semi-open area, with a stream off to your right. Ignore the first of several plank bridges across this stream, but maintain direction to cross the second of these bridges and keep ahead up a slope.

    Go straight across a track to continue up the right-hand side of an open area, heading W. In 200m keep right as indicated by a footpath waymarker and go up a short path between trees into the corner of a field. Keep right to go up the wide field edge, then in 100m veer right as indicated onto a path in a belt of trees alongside the field. Follow this past an old barn and some large new farm sheds into a small parking area at a sharp bend in a road.

  21. Birchgrove Road to Horsted Keynes (village) (1¼ or 1¾ km)
  22. Horsted Keynes Turn right onto the road and then in 150m turn left onto the driveway to Horsted Keynes Reservoir. Bear right in front of its gate onto a path leading into the corner of a large field, where there is a choice of routes into Horsted Keynes. Either turn half-left through a gate and follow a footpath across fields and past allotments into the village, or carry straight on along a field edge to St Giles church and go along Church Lane into the village.

    Turn right onto Birchgrove Road (briefly heading away from Horsted Keynes), taking care as there is no pavement. In 150m turn left onto a concrete driveway leading to Horsted Keynes Reservoir, going over a stile to the right of the (usually locked) main gate. At the metal barriers in front of the reservoir, veer right onto a path through the trees which comes out into the corner of a large field.

    There is a choice of routes into the village. If you started the walk from the Bluebell Railway station (or want to revisit the church), follow the route in §11b.

      Horsted Keynes
    1. Direct route (1¼ km)
    2. Keep ahead briefly alongside a line of trees. In 40m go through a metal kissing gate in the hedge on the left and turn half-right on the other side. Head SW across two fields on a faint grassy path, passing through a gate in the hedge separating them.

      In the far corner go through another metal kissing gate and continue along the left-hand edge of a smaller field, then past allotments and houses. Bear left onto a tarmac lane which leads to the road running through the centre of the village, with the village stores on your right.

    3. Route via the church (1¾ km)
    4. Keep ahead along the field edge all the way to the next corner, 500m away. Continue on a fenced path leading into the churchyard of St Giles3. After visiting the church, leave by its main gate and head S on Church Lane.

      The lane dips down past some attractive old cottages and near the bottom of the slope you pass the impressive gates to the Old Rectory on your left. As you climb towards the centre of the village, turn left at a crossroads to stay on Church Lane. Follow it up to the the road running through the centre of the village, with the village stores on your left.

    There is a choice of pubs for refreshment in Horsted Keynes1. The Crown Inn12 is opposite the village stores and the Green Man towards the western end of the long village green.

    If you are finishing the walk here, the 270 bus stop for Haywards Heath is just beyond the western end of the green, on the other side of a road junction. In the other direction, buses go to East Grinstead from the stop close to the Green Man.

  23. Horsted Keynes (village) to Horsted Keynes Station (2¼ km)
  24. Head north on Church Lane and turn left onto a footpath heading west along the valley floor. Keep ahead to pass Mill Lake and take the first of two footpaths on the left up through a wood to a minor road. Continue on a footpath alongside Leamland Wood, then veer left down through a picnic area towards Horsted Keynes station. Go out along the approach road to the 270 bus stop.

    This is a slightly shorter version of §1-2, bypassing St Giles church and Old Mill House.

    To finish the walk at the Bluebell Railway station, make your way to the road junction at the western end of the green. Go past vehicle barriers onto the unsignposted lane heading N towards the church and keep ahead at a crossroads, joining Church Lane. 50m after passing the gates to the Old Rectory on your right, turn left onto a signposted footpath.

    Go between houses and through a kissing gate onto a fenced path heading W along the valley floor. Follow the path into a wooded area, passing a large pond on your right. In 125m keep ahead across a farm track in a small dip to reach a path crossing with a four-way footpath signpost, with a lake ahead on your right. Keep ahead at this junction, now heading NW.

    Veer left down the slope and go past the right-hand side of the car park onto a short access road leading to the station buildings. The 270 bus stop is at the far end of the station approach road.

Walk Notes

  1. The Saxon manor of Horsted (meaning a place where horses are kept) 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.
  2. The Sussex Border Path runs for 240 km along the length of West & East Sussex, from Thorney Island on the Hampshire border to Rye.
  3. St Giles, Horsted Keynes was probably built on the site of a pagan temple as its orientation is towards the midsummer sunrise instead of the usual E-W. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Mill Lake and Broadhurst Lake were part of a long series of lakes created to supply water for the local mills. They are now popular fishing ponds.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The 16thC Broadhurst Manor was largely destroyed by fire in the late 18thC and subsequently rebuilt in Tudor style in the 1920s. The TV scriptwriter Carla Lane ran her Animaline wildlife sanctuary in its grounds until she sold the house in 2009.
  9. Birch Grove House was the home of Harold MacMillan. The Latin inscription on the gatepost Nemo me impune lacessit (‘no one provokes me with impunity’) is the motto of the Order of the Thistle.
  10. MacMillan Clump was planted in 1979 and Kennedy Clump in 1964, to commemorate the US President's visit to the area in June 1963. Nine groups of Scots Pine trees were planted on Ashdown Forest in 1825 (including Wych Cross Clump, to the north of the Reservoir), but their original purpose is not known.
  11. The old airstrip was built by Canadian Engineers during World War II.
  12. The Crown Inn was seriously damaged by fire after being struck by lightning in 2003, and was closed for six years.

» Last updated: May 30, 2017

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