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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, 17 February 2018

Saturday walk - Balcombe Circular via Ardingly Reservoir Winter Walk (possibly with a new lunch pub)

Length: 16.2km (10 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.42 train from London Bridge (9.56 East Croydon) to Balcombe, arriving 10.22

From Clapham Junction get the 9.29 East Grinstead train and change at East Croydon (arrive 9.40).

Buy a day return to Balcombe: if coming from London Bridge you will be going out and back on Thameslink services, so can buy a "Thameslink only" ticket if offered one

For walk directions click here (you only need pages 1-7).

For GPX click here.

There are very few walks on the SWC website that were actually designed to be done in winter, but this is one of them. It is a winter walk because it has reasonably long stretches on firm surfaces, particularly in the first half of the morning and in the afternoon. That being said, there are some gloopy bits: just a lot fewer of them than on other walks.

The first 2.2km is all on a quiet road. A bit later there is a kilometre or so on farm tracks. Once you are out into the fields you have the distraction of passing under the wonderful Ouse Valley Viaduct which is very impressive close up (your train journey to Brighton will never seem the same again). Then there is a potentially muddy bit as far as the Ardingly Reservoir, your water feature for the day, as one of our midweek posters likes to say.

Lunch has traditionally been at the Ardingly Arms, but I have been alerted to a new option, the Gardener's Arms, which is a bit off the walk route but not much further away than the Ardingly Arms as far as I can see. To get to it, just after the right turn at the T-junction by the church in paragraph 33, turn left and keep straight ahead up the side of the agricultural show ground, with the ground to your RIGHT. 800 metres or so of walking brings you to a road and the pub.

In the afternoon you follow the edge of the Ardingly Reservoir on a largely firm (though not entirely mud-free) path. Tea is at the Balcombe Tea Rooms, which can close their doors as early as 4pm, or otherwise at the Half Moon Pub, assuming it is still open, which has in the past offered cakes as well as tea.

Trains back are 22 past. The back lane route to the station is recommended. T=3.22


Anonymous said...

Is the Winter Walk the one marked by the red line on the OS map?

Walker said...


Walker said...

After four wet and windy Saturdays, a perfect one. W=Sunny. Blue skies. A big powerful sun, no longer pale and wintry. Mild, even warm temperatures. Chaffinches singing for the first time this year. Occasional primroses and daffodils: one celandine. And yes, even a butterfly. It was easy to believe that spring was round the corner. It almost certainly isn’t, but we had a sneak preview.

N=30 set off from Balcombe, at a cracking pace that Mo Farah might have struggled to keep up with. Some newbies got left behind, I think. The ground was fairly muddy in places but this walk does have more than its fair share of firm surfaces. The Ouse Valley Viaduct was a wonder, as usual. Sandwichers got to picnic by the reservoir. Of the rest of us, most went to the Ardingly Arms and seemed well pleased, but six of us diverted to the Gardener’s Arms. This was a lovely place with fine food, but you need to book it. Four of us secured the last table, the other two sat in the garden. I actually envied the latter, as for the first time this year it was warm enough to sit outside.

In the afternoon a lovely saunter along the reservoir. A bit of sitting in the sunshine on benches. About a dozen of us still got to the Balcombe Tea Rooms before their cruelly early closing time - gorgeous cakes as usual. Some got the 4.20 train: I was glad I stayed for the 5.20. On the platform as the sun dipped behind the hill there was for the first time this year layers of birdsong: several ardent song thrushes, a dunnock or two, great tits, robins.

And at that moment a blackbird sang. Distantly but clearly. The sound of spring.

Remember this day during the cold weather to come....