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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, 28 April 2018

Fully Revised: Woods, Streams, Hills, Heaths, Steam Trains & Bluebells (East Grinstead to Wivelsfield or Sheffield Park)

Fully Revised! The old walk was Forest Row to Sheffield Park, and was - for all intents and purposes - not that attractive (train plus bus at the start, occasional and expensive steam train at the end), and never got posted again after its first outing in 2008, and most parts of its route now feature in other walks in the area anyway. So, it was time for a complete revamp.

Length: 31.6 km (19.7 mi) or 22.5 km/14.3 mi to Sheffield Park (Bluebell Line Terminus)
Ascent/Descent: 451/534m or 336m ascent to Sheffield Park
Net Walking Time: ca. 7 hours or 4 ½ hours to Sheffield Park
Toughness:  8 out of 10 or 5 out of 10 to Sheffield Park

Take the 09.23 service from Victoria to East Grinstead (CJ 09.29, EC 09.41, then all stations to Grinstead), arriving 10.18.
Return trains from Wivelsfield: xx.21 (Thameslink), xx.31 (to Victoria), xx.51 (Thameslink), xx.53 (change Burgess Hill).  
Buy an East Grinstead return, you then will have to buy an additional single from Wivelsfield to East Croydon.

This route in the East/West Sussex boundary lands descends from East Grinstead into the Upper Medway Valley and past Weir Wood Reservoir and then meanders through an undulating landscape of hills, streams, ponds, heaths and mixed woodland, rich in bluebells and wood anemones in season. For the most part, it largely shadows the course of The Bluebell Line steam railway, and lunch is either in tranquil Horsted Keynes or in Scaynes Hill, near the (Sussex) Ouse River. Later you pass through several parts of the large Chailey Common heathlands and continue westbound through flatter ground – mostly pastures with fine South Downs Views – to Burgess Hill (for Wivelsfield station).
An Alternative Finish at Sheffield Park, the terminus of the Bluebell Line, for a return to East Grinstead by steam train (last trains at 16.00 and 17.15) or to Haywards Heath by bus (last at 17.01, change in North Chailey), is described, as are other alternatives to shorten the route  (see page 2 of the pdf).
Note: the notoriously mud-prone descent from East Grinstead has gotten worse, if anything, as it is now fenced for the particularly mud-prone part.

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.
Lunch: The Green Man (food to 15.00) or The Crown Inn (food to 14.30) in Horsted Keynes (13.7 km/8.5 mi); The Sloop Inn in Scaynes Hill (19.2 km/11.9 mi, food to 15.00).
Tea:  The Sloop Inn  (as above), and one pub in Wivelsfield, 600m beyond the station; or The Bessemer Arms in Sheffield Park. T=swc.27

6 comments:

Carrie said...

I rather like the sound of this one. See you @ East Grinstead :)

Anonymous said...

Also, how steep is this notoriously muddy section? Just wondering if it'd be useful to bring the poles for stabilisation.

Thomas G said...

Not steep, but longish. Between fences, no further need for stabilisation tools.

Anonymous said...

Noted, ta.

Thomas G said...

8 walkers set off eager to check out how muddy the descent from Grinstead would be, and it wasn't too bad to be honest, certainly easier to negotiate than a few weeks back, the mud was even kind of firmish. Once we crossed the Medway, the area lived up to the name of the train line running through it: there were bluebells everywhere. Only one wood was without, all else had carpets or at least pockets thick with the beasties. Street verges, field boundaries, open meadows, the banks of streambeds, nothing was spared. We went about the route at quite some pace considering the often muddy ground, so that when we got to Horsted Keynes (after checking out Macmillan's grave) we decided to skip past the pubs there and march on to The Sloop Inn. Just as we were about to cross under the railway line we heard a train whistle in the near distance and waited a few minutes for the steam train to pass our spot, and then got to the pub at 14.15. Only 2 lunched (very nice meals we had) but all others waited.
One walker then chose the Sheffield Park Ending to spare his Achilles tendon more stress, the others enjoyed the now (nearly) bluebell-free heaths near Chailey and the South Downs views further along and got the 18.21 train from Wivelsfield.

3 other walkers started later and walked the Forest Row to Sheffield Park variant. A separate report may follow.
In total therefore n=11 in w=overcast-but-dry-throughout weather.

Stargazer said...

Yes, 3 (including 2 novices) did probably stretch the term of "late-starter" to the latest possible...actually starting at Horsted Keynes Station. After a brief warm-up, we had a good lunch in Horsted Keynes village and enjoyed numerous bluebell, wild garlic and steam train displays en route to Sheffield Park....