A walk from Balcombe

Published by Morley Ramblers on

I am missing the bluebells….

Thank you to Sue H for her link to the bluebell woods on her walk. This year’s walk from Balcombe was intended to provide us with other great views in the woods near Wakehurst Place. But I hope some of you have had some luck in seeing wild flowers in parks and gardens.

Those of you who remember my previous walks from Balcombe may recall views of the Ouse Valley viaduct on the way to Ardingly for lunch. (The locals like to pronounce this ‘Ardinglie’, so stick to ‘Ardinglee’ if you like to upset them). On this walk we take a different route in the morning so will miss the viaduct as well as Ardingly College. But today we can pay a virtual visit to the viaduct.

Our morning route today soon takes us down to Ardingly Reservoir,  198 acres, built in 1978 to supply drinking water. Fed from the River Ouse, it is designated area of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserve, and provides recreation including sailing and fishing.

On previous walks we have returned this way, and on a couple of visits I timed this section to stop for blackberry picking. This year we can pause for the views; but going in this direction will give us time to linger at the church after climbing up towards Ardingly Village.

St Peter’s Church is not normally open on Saturdays. But my route is courtesy of South Bank Ramblers and when I went with them the church was open. Last year, I was lucky enough to get in again. The church allows visitors to lift the carpet in the chancel, the aisle leading to the alter. This reveals some of the most important of the Culpeper brasses. There are many stories attached to the family revealed in the brasses, some of them not very pleasant although typical of the era. Rather than me describing this in detail, best to follow the links below, including the links to Wakehurst.


We must leave the church on our way to Wakehurst Place for lunch. But we pass through Ardingly village where you can catch a bus. You would avoid the climb up to Wakehurst Place but miss some lovely woods… and the bluebells….

You can go on line whilst lunching at Wakehurst. Those of you who are NT members have more than one choice of cafe and can visit the gardens. Maybe you might now visit the seedbank on line, (and there is an on line link to Kew gardens). I am sure you can shop there in reality when on line – I know NT is one of the better off charities at the moment, but we are indebted to them for many of our outings.

The morning walk is more than 5 miles, so you might take another bus option towards home. But you would miss a few more miles of some ups and downs and more lovely woods. I think there are a few stiles this afternoon; maybe there were none this morning? A path via a farm leads us down to Balcombe Lake. Then, no walk of mine should be complete without passing a cricket ground, just before reaching Balcombe itself.

It is another 10-15 minutes walk to the station from the village. If the tea room is open we can rest there. A shop and pub provide other options as trains back are probably only hourly. But we currently have as much time to rest as we like…..