Extra Walk 132a – Horsted Keynes [Station] Circular
Length: 16½ km (10.3 miles) if finishing in the village. Toughness: 5/10
For the cheapest (Thameslink-only) fare from central London, take the 09:00
Brighton train from St Pancras
(Blackfriars 09:09, London Bridge 09:15), arriving Haywards Heath
. Alternatively, take Southern's 09:16
Eastbourne train¹ from Victoria
(Clapham Jct 09:23, East Croydon 09:33), arriving at 10:01
At Haywards Heath make your way to the Perrymount Road bus stop for the East Grinstead-bound Metrobus 270
, alighting at Horsted Keynes Station
the village (unless you want to do the slightly longer start). A return ticket on the 270 is £5.40, cheaper than two singles at £3.40.
 If you just miss the Eastbourne service, a Brighton train nine minutes later should still be in time to make the bus connection.
Buses from Horsted Keynes village back to Haywards Heath are hourly at xx:39 until 16:39, plus a final service at 17:52 (four minutes later from the station if you choose to complete a full circular walk, an extra 2¼ km). At Haywards Heath there are three Thameslink trains an hour back to London (at xx:16, xx:31 & xx:47) plus four Southern ones (at xx:14, xx:21, xx:44 & xx:51).
Apologies for the lengthy train info and the need for a bus, but I felt that this rather neglected walk deserved a rare outing when the heather on Ashdown Forest should still have some colour. I've chosen to start the walk from the Bluebell Railway station because this way you should get to see one or two steam trains on the morning stretch alongside the track, a southbound train just before 11am and a northbound one shortly afterwards.
After an undulating climb onto the fringes of Ashdown Forest you should reach the Red Lion
in Chelwood Gate at around 12:30. There's an optional short cut at the start of the afternoon leg, but the full walk includes an attractive stretch through the gorse and heather. A gradual descent through woods and fields brings you back to Horsted Keynes, where a couple of decent pubs will be vying for your custom before the bus ride back to Haywards Heath.
In recent years the trend has been to substitute the second half of the Forest Row Circular walk
after lunch, since the two share the same pub. If you're tempted by this variation, be aware that you might need to buy an additional ticket back from East Grinstead (the same applies if you choose to take the 270 in that direction at the end of the walk).
You'll need to bring the directions from the Horsted Keynes Circular walk