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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Saturday Second Walk - A viaduct and a reservoir

SWC walk 22 - Balcombe Circular via Ardingly Reservoir, winter walk
Length: 16.2km (10 miles)
Longer option: 18.1km (11.3 miles): see ** below
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.12 train from London Bridge (9.25 East Croydon) to Balcombe, arriving 9.51

For walk directions click here (you only need pages 1-8, unless you want to do the longer option).

It has been a couple of years since the Balcombe Circular winter walk had an outing. It is designed to make use of lanes and firm tracks as much as possible, but it does inevitably have some mud. You start with a walk along quiet lanes and then pass under the magnificent Ouse Valley Viaduct on the Brighton Line (more interesting than it sounds: see comments for this walk), then passing Ardingly Reservoir to climb up to Ardingly village for lunch.

Here the Ardingly Arms is now the only lunch option. Its website has gone a bit more fancy so I am not sure if the food has done the same, but in the past it served hearty meals.

I have picked a train to get us to the pub early in case there is competition for tables (though this has never been a problem in the past) and also because after lunch it is 4 miles to Balcombe village and it is nice to get to the Balcombe Tea Rooms in time. They close at 4.30pm, but will sometimes stay open a bit later for a group if you phone them to say you are coming. Otherwise, the nearby Half Moon Inn sometimes has some of the tea room's cakes on offer at its bar, plus tea.

Trains back are at 22 past the hour. In the dark it is tempting to use the main road route to the station, but the recommended route down the back roads is only a bit longer and is very atmospheric at night.

** Longer option: Hard nuts and those keen to put the mud-resistant qualities of their boots to the test can, if they wish, do the summer afternoon of this walk (pages 12-16 of the walk document). It is only 1.3 miles longer, but is a squelch-fest in winter (as the walk author can attest, having researched it in a long-ago January. He reckons this makes him the only SWC-ite who has ever done this route in winter: YOU could be the second!!). It is also much more hilly. Astonishingly, the Wakehurst Place Cafe is still open in winter (until 4.15pm), though you will have to be a speedy walker to both complete the walk route and get your chocolate cake in. Nevertheless I have given you an early train, so it might be possible.


Unknown said...

Sounds great. A good viaduct, often travelled on it but not under it.

Walker said...

It is the CHRISTMAS PARTY on Thursday - don't forget!! See listing below

Walker said...

N=11 on this walk W=Windy_cloudy-mild As walk poster I have to concede that a train an hour later would probably have been better since we were leaving lunch by 1.30pm and finishing the walk by 3pm.

Since the whole aim of the earlier start was to go to the lovely Balcombe Tea Rooms before they closed at 4.30pm, it was disappointing to find them shut. They obviously HAD been open as there were sounds of washing up coming from beyond the shutters, but they presumably had had little business that afternoon and decided to shut early. Lack of tea room caused most to go straight for the 3.20 train but four of us stayed and parlayed with the pub, who let us buy mince pies from the local shop to go with our tea, and we had nice comfy sofas to sit on as we consumed them, so maybe that was better.

The lunch pub, the Ardingly Arms, was unchanged,despite posher website (or did I look at the wrong website?). As usual we were practically the only customers and as usual the food was hearty. In the morning the Ouse Valley Viaduct was a highlight, as ever, causing mobile phone cameras to be brought into play.

Two did the summer afternoon route and reported it not so muddy really. They also finished easily in the daylight. We just seem to whip through these walks nowadays....

Those of us who did the main route had to contend with gunfire from a shooting party across the water. One walker reported that stray shot came across the path in front of him. The rest of us discussed the ecology, politics and morality of hunting as a pastime.

At least four of us took the back way to the station in the intense dark. For me, this was one of the loveliest bits of the day and all too short.

Nick said...

Apart from the yells and gunshot from the deranged bloodsport enthusiasts near Ardingly Resevoir, it was a very enjoyable walk!

Anonymous said...

aha! walker 'concedes' that this walk would have been better with a later start... Some of us agree.

a vote for later starts please..