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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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Sunday, 20 October 2019

Sunday Walk: Balcombe to East Grinstead - Gentle wooded hills, Wakehurst Place

17.2km (10.7 miles),
Difficulty 6/10
The star attractions on this rarely posted walk are the gardens and Tudor mansion at Wakehurst Place (a rural outpost of Kew’s Botanic Gardens). We go through on a public footpath. (For a proper visit, you'd need a ticket - £13.95, free for NT and RBS members).
Then we’re off, through woods to the Norman church, Priest House Museum (Admission £5), and  lunchtime pub in West Hoathly, the second highest point in Sussex.
After lunch, more woods, then the nature reserve at Weir Wood Reservoir (home to great crested grebe, heron and osprey).
Get the 9:41 Brighton train from London Bridge (East Croydon 9:55) to Balcombe arr 10:28
Trains return from East Grinstead, xx:12 and xx:42.
The stations are on different lines The safest option is two singles. A Thameslink single from London Bridge to Balcombe plus a single from East Grinstead to Victoria (or East Croydon if getting off there). Although it's tempting to just get a Balcombe return, this is unlikely to get you through the barrier at East Grinstead (see notes).
The Seed Café at Wakehurst Place or the Cat Inn (tel 01342 810 369) in West Hoathly (phone ahead with numbers).
The suggested tea stop is The Old Dunnings Mill pub (tel 01342 821 080), about 2km before the end of the walk. Allow 30 minutes from here to reach the station.
Directions here. The steps near the start (paragraph 2) are slippery when wet. Take a victim's advice and hold the handrail.


Anonymous said...

The Cat is very upmarket these days and might well be full on Sunday. You will need to phone or risk no lunch. If you can get in, the food is stunning. There are one or two cheap options but very few.


Anonymous said...

Anyone attending this walk. Hope to see some of you. Monica.

globetrekker said...

Ended up walking this, but not with the group (lie-in preferred on Sunday) so started late. Extremely slick/muddy probably an understatement, despite no rain. Good workout with some views, but (for future hikers) probably best after a heatwave or a few days of baking hot sun in the summer.

Sandy said...

I was thinking of using this route of a weekday visit to Wakehurst in the near future so thank you globetrekker for the warning about the mud.

globetrekker said...

You're welcome Sandy. Had a couple of falls (thankfully nothing serious) and a scratched finger (will hopefully heal soon) while desperately grabbing a fence trying to prevent a third. Extra clothing/gaiters etc., strongly recommended.

Anonymous said...

I think this will be one of many walk reports as the group splintered pretty early. There were three, THREE, groups getting off at Balcombe rail station, which led to some noisy waiting and and perhaps a little over stimulating for the beginning of a quiet country Sunday walk. I didn't take the exact count, but I think there was 9 off the train, and then Globetrekker came later, so all in all n=10 . If someone got a different number, please say. w=sunny-with-some-cloud-but-that-weird-not-cold-not-warm-weather .

There was a wrong turning very quickly after the slippery and dangerous steps we were warned about (no casualties, thankfully), with half the group stopping to sort themselves out, and the half stubbornly carrying on insisting they were right. I was in the latter, so hopefully those smart walkers who sorted out their mistake before blindly climbing uphill for 1 km on the wrong road in the wrong direction will also write a walk report so I can hear how their day went. As we never saw each other again!

For us wrong'uns, we did get to see some pretty countryside before turning around. Our blunder did mean that we were able to separate ourselves from the other two walking groups, which appeared to be doing the same walk, or perhaps the circular one (not sure). We had some lovely conversation about walking projects (my old love the London Loop was discussed). One stopped at the the shop in Balcombe to grab some lunch, which was described as lovely upon consumption. However, the rest of the way was marshy, boggy, and somewhat reminiscent of the Dead Marshes leading to Moria. What ding-dong requested a noted muddy and boggy walk in the pre-winter wet season? (It was me, I requested it--sorry guys).

At the seed bank, we had a parting of ways, as two of us went into Wakehurst Place for a quick nose, and the other two of our party soldiered on. I hope those two also do a walk report! Us two who went into the gardens were rewarded with a quick snoop around the house, which was empty of everything. But the real delight was the earl grey and lemon cake we naughtily consumed. Easily one of the best cakes I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. All you others missed out!!!

The rest of our walk was muddy muddy muddy and had the inevitable slips. I slipped while standing on the impressive rock climbing outcrops and narrowly missed sliding off of them, whilst my companion slipped on a footbridge onto her back. Luckily, neither of us were hurt, but please be careful on this walk.

We had some great conversation and impressive views. Not all the colour is out yet, but perhaps in a week or two. Really enjoyable walk, even if my lower half changed to mud slowly during the day.

Thanks to the walk poster for honouring my walk request! I did really enjoy it.