Main Walk: 18¾ km (11.6 miles). Four hours 40 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.
Short Walk (with all short cuts): 14¾ km (9.2 miles). Three hours 35 minutes walking time.
Explorer 135 & (for a small part around Cuckfield) OL34 (previously 134). Wivelsfield station, map reference TQ321200, is in West Sussex, 4 km S of Haywards Heath.
5 out of 10 (3 for the Short Walk).
This walk starts from a station called Wivelsfield but the eponymous village is 3 km away from the walk route; you actually set off from the unpromising environs of Burgess Hill. Fortunately this commuter town is immediately left behind for a rural stretch through the woods and meadows of Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve, at the end of which you pass the picturesque Valebridge Pond, popular with anglers.
An undulating section through woods and farmland crossed by numerous streams takes you up to the large churchyard of Holy Trinity Church and into the lunchtime village of Cuckfield (pronounced Cookfield: the name is derived from ‘cuckoo-field’). Once an important coaching stop on the turnpike road, this small town declined in importance after local landowners objected to plans for the London–Brighton railway, which accordingly had to be routed through Haywards Heath. A short detour up its attractive High Street and a quick visit to the small Cuckfield Museum is recommended (free admission: open Wed–Fri to 12.30pm, Sat to 3pm; closed winter).
Cuckfield is on the southern fringe of the High Weald and much of the afternoon section is on the High Weald Landscape Trail, a long-distance path through this undulating countryside. It starts alongside the parkland of Cuckfield Park, a large estate which was broken up in the 20thC; its Elizabethan manor house can only be partly seen from the public footpath. A section through a wood managed as a nature reserve takes you up to the neighbouring village of Whitemans Green, where some of the first dinosaur fossils were discovered in its sandstone quarries.
After passing through another hamlet (Brook Street) there are fine views across the Ouse Valley as you approach Borde Hill Garden, a set of formal gardens and parkland containing a nationally important collection of trees and shrubs, overlooked by an Elizabethan mansion; admission is £9.50 (2019).
The final part of the walk into Haywards Heath is something of an anti-climax since you have to endure a fair amount of road walking as well as a stretch across the town's golf course. The consequence of building the railway to the east of Cuckfield can be seen all too well in the suburban sprawl around the station, but it does at least provide a fast and frequent train service back to the capital.
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.
Some more direct alternative routes in and around Cuckfield are described, with several places where you can switch between them and the main route. The full Short Walk is recommended if you want to leave more time for visiting Borde Hill Garden.
One stop beyond Haywards Heath on the Brighton line, Wivelsfield is served by half-hourly Thameslink trains from St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge, plus an hourly Southern service from Victoria. The journey time from London Bridge or Victoria is around 50-55 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. There are frequent services on both routes for the return journey from Haywards Heath. Buy a return to Wivelsfield.
If driving, there is no station car park at Wivelsfield so it is better to park at Haywards Heath and take the train to the start of the walk. Its large station car park costs £8.60 Mon–Fri, £5.30 Sat, £2.25 Sun & BH (2019).
Cuckfield is served by several bus routes if you want to go directly to Haywards Heath after lunch. Metrobus 271 runs every two hours (daily); this is the only service on Sundays, but Compass 31 runs hourly (Mon–Sat) and there are a few extra services on Compass 89.
Take the train nearest to 09:40 from London Bridge (or Victoria) to Wivelsfield for the Main Walk, or half an hour later for the Short Walk.
There are several possible lunch places in Cuckfield, after 8¾ km (7 km on the Short Walk). The suggested place is The Talbot (01444-455898) bar/restaurant, which has a small patio area just off the High Street and does good bar meals. As an alternative there are several good cafés and tearooms nearby which serve light lunches: the Cuckfield Pantry & Tearoom (01444-457246), Tom's Food (01444-473384; closed Sun) and the Corner House (01444-454407).
The White Harte (01444-413454; closed Mon & Tue lunchtime) is conveniently situated on the southern edge of the village but has only provided basic food in the past; however, it has now been take over by Hall & Woodhouse and might have improved.
The suggested place to stop for tea is at Borde Hill, where Café Elvira (01444-458845) is outside the garden entrance and thus open to non-visitors (daily to 5pm). This large tearoom (next to the more formal Jeremy's Restaurant) has a nice back garden and serves a good range of cakes and desserts.
On the way into Haywards Heath you pass a Sainsbury's with a Starbucks coffee shop (open to 7pm Mon–Fri, 6.30pm Sat, 4pm Sun), and just past the station entrance there is a café in the large new Waitrose (open to 9pm Mon–Sat, 4pm Sun). The station itself has a convenient coffee shop inside the booking hall and kiosks on the platforms. For stronger fare you could try the Burrell Arms (01444-453214) on the roundabout.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (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+ | Short+ )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (18¾ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- Wivelsfield Station to Bedelands Nature Reserve (½ km)
- Through Bedelands to Valebridge Pond (1¼ or 1 km)
- Main route (1¼ km)
- Direct route (1 km)
- Valebridge Pond to Upper Ridges (3¼ km)
- Upper Ridges to Copyhold Lane (2 km)
- Copyhold Lane to Cuckfield Church (1½ km)
- Upper Ridges to Cuckfield Church direct (2 km)
- Cuckfield Church to Whitemans Green direct (1¼ km)
- Detour to the Cuckfield Museum (+300m)
- Cuckfield Church to New England Wood (1 km)
- New England Wood to Whitemans Green (1¼ km)
- Whitemans Green to Brook Street (2 km)
- Brook Street to Borde Hill (2 km)
- Whitemans Green to Borde Hill direct (2¾ km)
- Borde Hill to Haywards Heath Station (4 km)
- Main route
- Alternative route
Head north on a strip of grassland to the west of the railway, then veer left and right on a footpath and residential streets to come to the Coopers Close entrance to Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve.
Go down steps near the London end of the platform and turn left at the bottom to leave the station by the alternative exit. Cross Leylands Road at the pedestrian lights on the left and go past a vehicle barrier onto a path heading N through grassland, with the railway embankment on your right.
Where the path goes into a more wooded area fork left for preference onto a clear path along the strip of grassland to the left of a dividing line of trees. In 200m this path goes through a belt of trees to meet a tarmac path and you turn left onto it (if you chose to stay on the main path from the road, it also meets this path).
Follow this path between houses and continue along Maple Close to a T-junction. Turn right and go along another residential street (Coopers Close) for 100m, with a wood on your left. Where the street turns right, go through a metal kissing gate on the left into Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve1.
Take either of the suggested routes (a woodland path around the western side of the reserve, or a more direct route across meadows) to the western end of Valebridge Pond, on the northern boundary of the nature reserve.
Inside the reserve immediately turn right down a short flight of steps and continue on a path heading NW through Leylands Wood for about 100m, crossing a stream on a plank bridge along the way. Shortly before the path comes out into a large field, there is an information panel at a path crossing.
Two possible continuations through this attractive Nature Reserve are described, but there are plenty of these information panels (all with maps) if you want to devise your own route to Valebridge Pond. The direct route in §2b is suggested if you are doing the Short Walk.
Turn left at the path crossing to stay inside Leylands Wood, with an old tree boundary on your left. Keep ahead at path junctions for 250m, avoiding paths off to the left leading to a recreation ground. This brings you to a path crossing in the south-western corner of the reserve, with another panel. Ignore a footpath sign pointing ahead and turn right onto a path heading N through Watford Wood.
The woodland path curves gently round to the right and in 200m comes out into the corner of Wet Meadow. Continue alongside the trees on your left for 250m, partly on a stretch of boardwalk and later with another meadow (Old Arable) behind a hedge on your right. Follow the path into Big Wood, heading N.
In 50m turn right off the main path to go around a pond on your right. In a further 50m you come to a path T-junction and turn right again, now heading SE and passing more seasonal ponds on your right. In 75m, by the last of these ponds, turn left at a path junction. The path winds through the wood for about 100m and comes out into an open area.
Go up to a stile in the wire fence on your left, leading into a meadow (Mill Pond Field). Follow a grassy path across it and exit via another stile. Go straight across the perimeter path around the reserve onto a narrow path, signposted as a footpath.
Keep ahead at the path crossing and fork right on leaving the wood. Make your way onto the main grassy path going diagonally across this large meadow (the Big Field) towards a large gap in the trees off to the right, but almost immediately fork left onto another grassy path heading towards a less conspicuous exit, about 100m to its left. Go through the tree boundary and continue in much the same direction across two smaller meadows (Wet Meadow and Old Arable).
On the far side of the second meadow go through a gap in the trees into Big Wood. Follow the path past a seasonal pond on your left and then turn left to head roughly NW through the trees, passing more ponds on the left. Follow the main woodland path for 200m as it curves gently round to the right, ignoring paths off to the left.
As you approach the edge of the wood you will hear the sound of a waterfall, the outflow from a large mill pond. Continue briefly on the main path outside the wood, with another meadow (Mill Pond Field) behind a wire fence on your right. At the end of a short section of boardwalk (where there is a stile in the fence) turn left at a footpath signpost.
Head west along a tree-lined valley, later through the wood to the south of the infant River Adur. At the end turn right onto a footpath leading to the A273 by Holmbush Cottages. Turn right onto the main road, then take the bridleway heading west past Hookhouse Farm and Lower Ridges. Turn right onto a footpath heading north along field edges to Upper Ridges.
Follow the path over two narrow metal footbridges, crossing the outflow from the picturesque Valebridge Pond2. You will be turning left and could scramble down the bank on your left, but for an easier route carry on until just before the end of the pond and then turn sharp left onto a footpath. This goes down a short flight of steps by the site of the old mill wheel and meets a path from the left (the direct route from the scramble). Go out onto a grassy path heading W along a tree-lined valley.
In 200m bear left as indicated and cross the infant River Adur3 on a wooden footbridge. Follow the path up a short flight of steps and bear right onto a path through the trees. You soon come to a large hollow and veer left to skirt around it, passing a footpath marker post. The path then descends and comes to a three-way footpath signpost where you turn right to head NW, with a field behind a fence in the line of trees on your left.
After crossing back over the river on a footbridge keep ahead as indicated, going up a short slope through the trees and out into some rough grassland. After going past a metal fieldgate continue on a narrow fenced path around the edge of a large field, curving round to the left.
In 400m you come to a farm driveway and turn right onto it. Almost immediately a footpath waymarker indicates that the right of way is through the trees on the left to the nearby A273 (where you would turn right onto a narrow verge for an extra 100m of roadside walking). However, if there are no “Private” notices to deter you it is tempting to continue along the farm drive; turn left at the end onto another driveway (which is a public bridleway) leading to the main road and turn right.
Just past the bridleway exit cross the A273 carefully to continue on a wider grass verge. In 100m turn left into the driveway to Hookhouse Farm, another bridleway. On reaching the farm buildings bear left as indicated onto a track skirting around them, which continues along the right-hand edge of a large field.
In the far corner follow the track down to the right into a wood, across a stream and up a slope. At the top the track turns left and soon passes a large pond on the left, with a house (Lower Ridges) visible behind it. At a T-junction in front of another pond turn right and follow a pleasant green lane between hedges for 250m, heading NW.
At a three-way footpath signpost turn right through a wooden kissing gate to go up the left-hand edge of two large fields, following the boundary as it turns right and then left in the second field. 100m after the left-hand turn, veer left and right as indicated to continue in the same direction on a farm track on the other side of a line of trees. In a further 100m you come to a three-way footpath signpost at the driveway to a cottage (Upper Ridges).
If you are doing the Short Walk, go to §6.
Turn right onto a footpath heading east across a field, then north-east through woods and field edges. 150m before the path comes to the A273, turn left onto a footpath heading north to Copyhold Lane, again through fields and woods.
For the Main Walk, turn right at the footpath signpost and go across the grass to the right of the driveway. If there is no clear path, aim for a marker post to the left of a large tree in the field, 100m away. Continue near the right-hand side of the field to its corner and follow a path down into the trees.
Ignore a footbridge on the right and bear left onto a track heading E, with a plantation of young trees on your left. The track soon curves left in front of a more open area and drops down into a valley. Immediately after crossing a stream, turn left at a footpath signpost onto a broad grassy track. In 50m go straight ahead where the track splits into three. The path climbs through the trees and comes out into the bottom corner of a large field.
Continue along the bottom of the field, with a deer fence on your right. Soon after going through a metal kissing gate by a low wire fence across the field, turn half-left at a footpath signpost to cut across the field to its top corner. Go through another kissing gate and keep ahead across another field. At the top turn right and continue alongside a conifer plantation, passing through more gates along the way.
At the end of the plantation turn half-left as indicated to cut across the grass towards a gap in the trees 50m away. Go through this onto a track along the right-hand edge of a field. You will be leaving it down to the left, but the right of way goes along the field edge for 100m to a footpath signpost, where you turn left. Pass to the left of two large trees near the bottom of the field and take a path down into a wood.
The path soon merges with a track from the left and you follow this down a slope, across a stream and back up the other side to emerge into another field. Continue in much the same direction on a grassy path, passing to the right of a clump of trees in the field and heading just to the left of a house which comes into view on the far side.
A stile indicates that the right of way goes through the house's garden but it seems that most walkers simply continue along the grass to its left. At the end of the hedge (with another stile at the exit from the garden) turn half-right as indicated and go across the grass to a stile on the far side of the field. Go over the stile, across a driveway and along the right-hand edge of a field to reach a minor road (Copyhold Lane), with a driveway opposite.
Cross the lane and continue on the footpath opposite. Cross the A272 and follow the footpath as it turns left to head west past school playing fields and Newbury Pond to Cuckfield. Make your way across the large cemetery on your right to the parish church.
Cross the lane and continue on a signposted footpath to the right of the driveway. In 200m cross the A272 carefully and continue on the footpath opposite. In 100m turn left at a three-way footpath signpost to head W, with school playing fields behind the trees on your right.
In 350m you reach the end of the wood and keep ahead on an enclosed path at the top of a large field, with fine views off to the left. At the end continue on a track which passes Newbury Pond, climbs a short slope and soon comes to a large cemetery on the right.
Go straight ahead and follow a series of footpaths heading alternately north and north-west, eventually passing a water treatment works. Cross the A272 and continue on the footpath past farm buildings to Cuckfield. Make your way across the large cemetery to the parish church.
For the Short Walk, keep ahead at the footpath signpost. Go through a belt of trees in a dip and then up the left-hand edge of a large field. In the top corner veer left into a wood on a potentially muddy woodland path which soon turns half-right and descends, heading NW.
At the bottom go over a stile and turn half-right onto a grassy path going down across a field, heading N. At the bottom cross a ditch on a plank bridge and go through a kissing gate. Turn right onto a driveway (which is also a public bridleway) going downhill past a house and round a bend to the left.
Shortly before reaching a bridge over a stream, turn left at a footpath signpost onto a path into the trees. This crosses a ditch, goes up a slope and soon comes out into the bottom corner of a large field. Bear right and go along its edge. As it swings round to the left veer right through a gap in the trees to continue on a track heading N, ignoring another footpath branching off to the right.
In 200m you pass a house and veer left onto a path into another wooded valley, crossing a stream on a footbridge and climbing back up the other side. The path soon emerges from the trees and you follow a faint grassy path heading N along field edges, later passing a water treatment works (and a thinly-disguised phone mast) on your right to reach the A272.
Cross the main road carefully and continue on the footpath opposite, directly towards Cuckfield church. You pass some farm buildings and eventually come to a lane, with a gate into a large cemetery just off to the right.
If you want to switch to the Main Walk, go to §8.
Go up Church Street and the High Street to The Talbot. Turn left into Ockenden Lane
and join the High Weald Landscape Trail (HWLT), a footpath heading north-west towards a corner of New England Wood and and then northwards to Whitemans Green.
Leave the churchyard through the large lychgate at its northernmost point (ie. turn half-right if coming out of the church). Go up Church Street to its junction with the B2036 at a corner, where there are two possible lunch places: the Cuckfield Pantry & Tearoom ahead and Tom's Food on the right. The suggested place is a bar/restaurant 50m further up the main road on the right-hand side, The Talbot.
The walk continues along Ockenden Lane opposite The Talbot, but follow the directions below if you want to visit the museum.
To see more of Cuckfield carry on up the High Street. The Corner House café is at the mini-roundabout with Broad Street and the Cuckfield Museum6 is in Queen's Hall, 100m beyond it. Return the same way.
To continue the Short Walk, go along Ockenden Lane. Shortly before this swings left in front of the entrance to Ockenden Manor7, turn right onto the driveway to Ockenden House, signposted as a footpath and joining the High Weald Landscape Trail8 (HWLT). This zig-zags left and right, passes the house (behind a high brick wall) and makes another turn to the left. At the end of the drive go through a rusty metal kissing gate, with entrances into two fields ahead.
Go into the right-hand field and follow a faint grassy path near its left-hand edge. At the bottom of the slope go over a stile into the trees and cross a stream on a wooden footbridge. Take the path straight ahead, up a short flight of earth steps with New England Wood behind a wire fence on the left. At the top ignore a kissing gate into a field and turn right at a three-way footpath signpost to come out into an area of scrubland.
Follow a clear path along its left-hand edge, climbing steadily and occasionally going between small trees and bushes. In 350m ignore a footpath on the right heading back to Cuckfield, and later a gap on the left leading onto a large recreation ground. Continue along a driveway leading out between houses to the B2115. Just off to the left a driveway on the other side of the road is the continuation of the HWLT and the Main Walk route, but to continue the Short Walk turn right onto the road.
and follow it round to the left and back to the B2036. Go past the White Harte and turn right onto a footpath heading west along the edge of Cuckfield Park. After going down a slope and crossing a stream turn right into New England Wood.
If you do not want to visit any of the places on Cuckfield's High Street you can save 300m by leaving the churchyard through the small lychgate in its north-western corner. As you go down Church Platt you pass the back of the White Harte and can enter through its garden if you are stopping there. At the bottom of the lane cross the B2036 carefully and resume the directions at [•] below.
To continue the Main Walk, go along Ockenden Lane. Follow this round to the left in front of the entrance to Ockenden Manor7 and back down to the B2036. Continue along this road (South Street), passing the White Harte on your left. In a further 50m a couple of lanes join from the left, one being Church Platt (the short cut from the church).
[•] Opposite the lanes go through an old gate to the left of a driveway, signposted as a footpath and briefly joining the High Weald Landscape Trail8 (HWLT), though in the ‘wrong’ direction. Head WNW along the left-hand side of grassland for 400m, passing through a few kissing gates along the way.
The grounds of Cuckfield Park9 are behind a fence on your left. As you draw level with the mansion (you might just be able to see the top) the path drops down towards a wood. At the bottom of the slope make your way across a potentially muddy area. Immediately after crossing a stream on a plank footbridge turn right through a gap in an old metal fence into New England Wood10, leaving the HWLT.
Head north through New England Wood, initially near its western boundary and then along a wooded valley. Continue along the left-hand edge of a field, then briefly join a footpath heading north-west to reach the corner of a large recreation ground. Go diagonally across this to meet the High Weald Landscape Trail (HWLT) where it heads north off the B2115.
You will be heading north through this wood for 500m, roughly following the course of a stream in a valley and leaving the wood on its northern boundary. If you veer too far to the right you will come out in its north-eastern corner by another stream, inadvertently joining the direct route.
Follow the main path up a slope, with the stream you crossed down on your right. The path soon levels out and there is an old fence just off to your left. About 100m into the wood the path splits and you fork left, staying fairly close to the fence. On this stretch there are wood chippings on the potentially muddy ground to make the going easier, and a plank bridge across a ditch. In about 200m the path splits again and this time you fork right.
The left fork would take you on a longer loop around the western edge of the wood. You would eventually come to the correct exit from a different direction.
The path now crosses the stream which has been on your right via another plank bridge. Follow it up some steps in the bank and round to the left to continue on the other side of the wooded valley. In 200m you come to a junction of paths at the edge of the wood, where you go out past a wooden fieldgate into the corner of a field.
Go along the left-hand field edge. In the next corner veer left through a gap in the trees and continue on a grassy path curving up to the right towards a house. At the top go over a stile in the hedge and turn right onto a track. Shortly after passing the house the track joins a tarmac driveway and there is a footpath signpost pointing left, but you turn right through a belt of trees into the corner of a large recreation ground.
You should be able to see two blocks of changing rooms in different parts of the ground. Make your way across (or around) the sports pitches towards the right-hand block, about 250m away. As you approach it veer left to go around a large clump of trees between the block and a car park off the B2115; on the north side of these trees you will find a memorial stone11 and an information panel “Gideon Mantell and the Cuckfield Dinosaurs”.
From the memorial stone go across the grass to the right of the car park. Cross the B2115 carefully and turn right to go along a broad grassy strip alongside the road. The Short Walk route carries on along this road, but to continue the Main Walk turn left after 75m onto a driveway, joining the HWLT in the ‘right’ direction.
If you want to switch to the Short Walk, go to §12.
Head north on the HWLT, initially on a driveway, then round the edge of a field and along the eastern side of a golf course. After crossing a stream the right of way goes along field edges past Lower Spark's Farm, but it is simpler to continue alongside the golf course. Turn right onto Spark's Lane and follow this into the hamlet of Brook Street.
For the Main Walk, head N along the driveway off the B2115, signposted as a public footpath. Ignore a street off to the right and keep ahead, now on an unsurfaced track. Opposite the last house on the right turn left at a footpath signpost by a large oak tree and go through a kissing gate into a field. Follow a grassy path along its right-hand edge, turning right as indicated after 125m. In the next corner go through another kissing gate and follow a path through a copse.
The path comes out into a large open area. Take the centre path ahead through rough grassland for 500m, heading N with trees down to your right and soon with a golf course visible on your left. At the bottom of a long gentle slope continue through a belt of trees. As you come out onto another part of the golf course, there is a footpath signpost by an old stile in the hedge on your right.
The right of way appears to continue on the other side of the hedge, but further on a narrow enclosed path is sometimes impassable. In practice it appears that most locals continue alongside the golf course and this is the route described below.
Providing there are no “Private” notices ahead, continue along the edge of the golf course for a further 350m. In the corner go through a gap in the hedge, down an awkward little bank and turn right onto a track. In 150m this public bridleway meets a lane at a bend, with the footpath you left earlier rejoining from the right. Keep ahead on the lane, which in 350m comes to a T-junction with the B2036 in the hamlet of Brook Street.
Turn right briefly onto the B2036, then turn left to continue on the HWLT. This heads east along field edges and through small woods, gradually climbing to a ridge above the Ouse Valley. Join the farm drive from Lullings Farm and follow the track to Borde Hill Garden.
Turn right to go alongside the main road for 50m (crossing over carefully at some point), then turn left into the driveway to “The Granary”, signposted as a footpath. Keep right as indicated to skirt around this farm conversion. At the back of the buildings turn right over a new wooden stile to go up the left-hand edge of a field. At the top go over another new stile and turn left to go around the edge of a large field, curving round to the right.
In 250m follow the path down through a wood and across a stream at the bottom. Go up the right-hand edge of the next field. At the end of the trees on your right keep ahead across the grass towards a stile in the hedge on the far side. Go over this and through a belt of trees into another field. Once again go up its right-hand edge and bear slightly right where it opens out, aiming for a footpath signpost in a wire fence which comes into view as you climb up the field.
Go over a stile to the left of a metal fieldgate here and keep ahead across the next field. In the far corner go through a wooden gate and bear left onto a track (the Short Walk route), which immediately forks.
A detour of just 25m down the left-hand track would give you a fine view of the Ouse Valley Viaduct12 1½ km away, but the walk continues along the right-hand track, heading E. In 150m go through a wooden side gate to continue with Borde Hill Garden13 behind a wall on your left; later you get to see the Elizabethan mansion across a lawn. For the suggested tea place, turn half-right at the garden entrance towards a cluster of buildings around a small courtyard: Café Elvira is at the back.
Complete the directions at §13.
Turn right onto the B2115, leaving the HWLT. Go across the junction with the B2036 and continue on a footpath heading east to Ardingly Road. Turn left onto the road and follow it round to the right, then take the public bridleway on the left into the Borde Hill estate. Go past Lullings Farm and turn right at a footpath junction (rejoining the HWLT) to reach Borde Hill Garden.
For the Short Walk, ignore the driveway off the B2115 and head E alongside the road to its junction with the B2036, passing a service station. On the far side of the mini-roundabout take the signposted footpath to the right of “Chilcotts”. Follow this alleyway for 500m, ignoring a right fork into a residential street after 60m and going past the entrance to a new housing estate halfway along.
The path comes out onto Ardingly Road. Cross the road at the zebra crossing and turn left, ignoring the continuation of the footpath ahead. In 150m turn right at a mini-roundabout, now on Hanlye Lane. At the end of the houses continue on a tarmac path beside a hedge on the right-hand side of the road. In 100m go through a gap in this hedge and cross the road with great care into the driveway opposite, signposted as a public bridleway.
You will be following this drive through the Borde Hill estate for more than 1 km, soon with fine views ahead. In 500m, at the end of the wood on your left, keep ahead at a crossing. In a further 150m go through some imposing entrance gates by a lodge and follow the track on a long straight stretch between fields. As you reach some trees a footpath joins from the left (the Main Walk route, on the HWLT) and the track forks.
Turn left onto Borde Hill Lane, then turn right at a junction into Copyhold Lane. Follow this minor road for just under 1 km, crossing the London–Brighton railway line. Where the HWLT turns off to the left, turn right to climb through a wood, briefly joining the Sussex Ouse Valley Way. Continue on a footpath heading south across a golf course. On the far side either cut across a large meadow to come out opposite Wickham Way, or continue along the public footpath via Wickham Farm. At the bottom of Wickham Way turn right and go under a railway bridge. Turn left onto a residential street and continue on a cycleway past a supermarket. Go back under the railway for the station.
From the tearoom go back towards the garden entrance and turn right onto a tarmac drive going past a lodge to Borde Hill Lane. Turn left onto this fairly busy road, taking great care as there is no pavement. In 200m you will be turning right into Copyhold Lane (signposted to Ardingly), so cross over when it is safe to do so. You have quite a bit more road walking to contend with, again with no pavement to protect you from traffic on this minor road.
In 300m you cross the London–Brighton railway line, with the Ardingly branch14 alongside it. Continue on the lane as it winds its way between fields and woods, passing the occasional cottage. The turning off this road is a signposted footpath on the right 600m past the railway bridge, where the road is curving gently to the right by the remains of an old bridge for the abandoned Ouse Valley Railway15.
Turn right through a metal kissing gate onto a woodland path, leaving the HWLT (which turns off in the opposite direction) and briefly joining the Sussex Ouse Valley Way16 (SOVW). Follow the main path round to the right and gently uphill, heading S. This can become very muddy, but there are side paths which skirt around the worst stretches. In 300m the footpath bends right at a marker post, then turns left and comes out onto the edge of a golf course.
Turn right at a three-way footpath signpost (leaving the SOVW) and follow a clear path through the golf course for 500m, heading SSW. After passing netting on your left protecting you from big hitters on a distant driving range you come to the end of the golf course. There is an opening into a large meadow ahead, and a footpath signpost pointing down a tree-lined path on its left.
The main route now follows some well-defined grassy paths which are clearly used by locals, but if a “Private” notice has appeared you should take the alternative route along public footpaths described in §13b.
Go into the meadow and follow a clear grassy path curving slightly away from the trees on the left. At the bottom of the slope go through a gap in the hedge and follow the path round to the right to find a substantial plank bridge across a stream. On the far side continue up the right-hand edge of another meadow. Near the top, fork left onto a path leading to a (usually locked) metal fieldgate. Go past this and keep ahead into Wickham Way.
Take the tree-lined path to the left of the meadow. At the bottom of a long slope cross a footbridge over a stream and continue in the same direction, now gently uphill. At the top turn right onto a track in front of the entrance to Wickham Farm. In 100m you pass between brick pillars and turn left into Wickham Way, opposite a fieldgate where the main route rejoins from the right.
Head S on Wickham Way, a private road but also a public footpath. This quiet residential street soon drops downhill and comes to a T-junction with College Road at the bottom, where you turn right. You could turn left into Mill Green Road just before the railway bridge, but the suggested route is to go under the bridge and then turn left, later continuing on a cycleway to the left of a supermarket car park.
At the end go back under the railway and cross the road at the pedestrian lights opposite the station forecourt. If you want some refreshment while waiting for a train there is a coffee shop in the station booking hall and kiosks on the platforms, or you could visit the café in the Waitrose store just beyond the forecourt.
- Bedelands Farm was bought by Mid Sussex District Council and subsequently designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1991. Its 80 acres are a patchwork of wildflower meadows and ancient woodland, with several ponds where clay was dug out to make bricks or to spread on fields as a fertiliser (marl).
- Valebridge Pond was created in 1607 when the Lord of the Manor was given permission to dam the river in order to power a water mill.
- The source of the eastern branch of the River Adur is on Ditchling Common, about 4 km away. It meets the western branch near Henfield and flows into the English Channel at Shoreham-by-Sea.
- Holy Trinity, Cuckfield dates from the mid-13thC, although there was an earlier Norman chapel on the site. It was gradually enlarged in the following centuries as the town prospered. Its most striking feature is the vaulted ceiling, decorated by Kempe as part of a comprehensive restoration in the mid-19thC. The church steeple suffered several fires in the 20thC and had to be completely rebuilt after the last one in 1980.
- The Old School operated as a school for nearly 500 years. The buildings were acquired by Holy Trinity Church in 1992 and it is now a parish and community centre.
- The Cuckfield Museum (“Caring for Cuckfield's Heritage”) contains some of the earliest dinosaur fossils ever discovered (see 11 below).
- Ockenden Manor was bought by John Burrell, a local ironmaster, in 1658. It was owned by his descendants until the 20thC and is now a luxury hotel and spa.
- The High Weald Landscape Trail runs for 145 km across the length of the High Weald, mostly near its northern edge, from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye.
- Originally named Cuckfield Place, Cuckfield Park was built around 1575 by Henry Bowyer, a local ironmaster. It was later owned by the Sergison family and is said to be haunted by “Wicked Dame Sergison”, who had to fight for her inheritance after a family feud (dramatised in the 1834 novel Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth).
- New England Wood was bought by the local community in 1980 after the Cuckfield Park estate was broken up. It is managed as a nature reserve.
- The memorial stone at Whitemans Green commemorates the discovery of some fossil teeth by Gideon and Mary Ann Mantell in 1822. After collecting and meticulously analysing more fossil bones from the local quarries Mantell (a Lewes doctor) was eventually able to convince the scientific community that these were the remains of a huge reptile with teeth similar to the modern-day iguana, which he named Iguanodon in 1825. It was one of the first prehistoric creatures to be identified and named (the word dinosaur was not coined until the 1840s).
- The Ouse Valley Viaduct (seen to better effect on Walk #22) was opened in 1841 and carries the Brighton main line 450m across this wide valley, 29m above the river. Its 37 brick arches are topped with a stone balustrade and four classical pavilions, making it one of the most elegant railway structures in Britain.
- Borde Hill Garden was created by the Clarke family, who bought the Elizabethan house and grounds in 1892 and were patrons of plant collectors in the early 20thC. The garden has been open to the public since 1965.
- The Ardingly branch connected the Brighton line at Haywards Heath with the Bluebell line at Horsted Keynes. The intermediate station at Ardingly was popular with ramblers and often the destination for special trains. The short section from the Brighton line to its old goods yard is still used by freight trains.
- The Ouse Valley Railway was a ‘spoiler’ operation by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, which wanted to keep rivals out of its territory. It would have linked the Brighton line to St Leonards (near Hastings) via Uckfield and Hailsham. Shortly after work began in 1866 the collapse of the bank financing its construction led to the project being abandoned.
- 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.
» Last updated: October 16, 2019