Bluebell Railway Walks
A selection of walks crossing the line
There is something different around every corner on this walk. From the waterscape of Weirwood Reservoir to steam trains emerging from Sharpthorne tunnel. A picnic spot awaits halfway round and with two level crossings and the chance of seeing climbers in action at Stone Farm Rocks this walk has plenty going on.
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 383 341|
|1||Turn right at road|
|2||Take footpath on left|
|3||At T junction turn left then right on to footpath (hidden in a hedge)|
|4||Fork right at bottom of hill|
|5||Follow path past farm buildings|
|6||Pass under bridge|
|7||Follow track to level crossing|
|8||At end of track, follow bridleway sign|
|9||Cross road and take footpath on right|
|10||Continue past picnic benches|
|11||At houses veer right into built up area|
|12||Turn right at the T juntion|
|13||Cross road at T junction and go past West Hoathly Garage|
|14||Follow path downhill|
|15||Pass pond on left|
|16||Left then right at track|
|17||Cross style and continue to road|
|18||Turn left to bottom of hill|
|19||Take footpath on right to railway and go over level crossing|
|20||Cross bridge on right and head left uphill|
|21||Continue gently uphill on to sunken footpath|
|22||At end of crocks, drop down to right and walk back along base of cliff|
|23||Turn left at footpath towards electricity pylon|
|24||Turn right at road|
|25||Turn left and head back to car park|
Parking can be found on the south side of the reservoir as shown on the map. At the car park there is a bird hide managed by Friends of Weirwood that looks out over the reservoir. It is worth spending a few minutes exploring the hide or watching the birds at the feeders. Walk out to the road and turn right.
Two or three minutes along the road you will see the Weirwood Reservoir sign on the right. A view of the upper reaches of the reservoir opens up here. Over the other side of the road take the footpath leading uphill towards some buildings at Neylands Farm that are occupied Step by Step School.
A few yards along the footpath veer to the right as the path forks. Then pass to the right of the first building until you reach a gate. Now go through the gate and follow the road to a T junction. Turn left and follow the road past Neylands Farm Cottages. Just after the cottages take the footpath on the right. This path, sunken in places, takes you through the grounds of Blackland Farm Activity Centre. In the fields on either side of the path you will see several wooden buildings. Continue on the path downhill into woodland. Follow the footpath sign as it points to the left and continue on the main track to the bottom of the hill. The path forks in several directions here.
Take the right hand path over a stream and after a short climb you will emerge from the trees at a style. Cross the style and continue on a long straight path towards New Coombe farm.
The footpath eventually turns into a concrete farm track. Along this track you get your first view of the Bluebell Railway. Pass through a gate (or over a style if it is closed) and under the Bluebell Railway, following the track to the left.
Pass a pond and a couple of houses on the right. At the end of the track you will see a level crossing on the left and a tunnel entrance where the Bluebell Railway disappears under Sharpthorne village. If you take a detour to the level crossing and look along the line you may be lucky and see a train steaming out of the tunnel.
Head back to the road and follow the public bridleway sign in front of you. The road curves left and takes you uphill, eventually turning in to a narrow footpath.You will see houses on your left. Continue to the top of the hill ignoring the bridlepath halfway up.
When you reach the road, cross over and take the path up the steps to your right. Eventually you will pass some allotments and arrive at a series of benches. There is a viewpoint here that looks over the Sussex countryside towards Highbrook. Continue past the viewpoint until you come to a built up area. Veer right and continue to a roundabout at the end of a cul-de-sac road. Make your way along the road to a T junction. Turn right at the T juntion and continue along the road past West Hoathly Primary school.
At the T junction go straight across towards West Hoathly Garage. There is an impressive array of classic cars in the show room here. The path takes you past the garage and along the end of a number of back gardens with woodland and a steep drop to the right. Descend into a footpath with steep banks to either side; watch out for mud in wet weather. After a while the path twice turns right and continues down hill. As you pass the sign to Gravetye Estate take the footpath on the right.
Shortly you will pass a pond on your left. The path through this woodland is long and straight and halfway along this stretch the path encounters a gravel track. Turn left and after about 50 yards turn right to resume travel on a footpath through the woods.
Eventually you will come to a stile where you will see a footpath crossing a field. Cross the field and climb over the style on to the road turning left. Walk to the bottom of the hill. Here a footpath disappears into the woods on the right by a fence.
Follow this path and in a short while you will have reached the Bluebell Railway again. Climb the steep bank to your left and stop at the level crossing. This is another excellent place to get up close to a locomotive steaming towards you. The photo shows you what you can expect at this point. It is worth waiting for but please stay safe behind the fence.
Cross the line, down the bank and continue out into a field. Continue along this path until you come to a double planked bridge over a ditch. Shortly afterwards turn right over small bridge that crosses a stream. After the bridge follow the footpath to the left uphill.
Towards the top of the hill you will leave the field and head straight on, gently uphill, along a sunken footpath. In a short while an outcrop of rocks appear on the right. You are walking along the top of a small sandstone cliff at Stone Hill Rocks. This is a favourite place for climbers and you may see evidence for this embedded in the rocks. Just as the footpath begins to drop downhill, head off to your right around the back of a large rock. Now follow the path behind the rock and head back the way you came, now at the foot of the sandstone cliff.
Halfway along the cliff, go down a few shallow steps that pass between a small oak tree and the rock face on your right. Just here there is a path to your left that heads downhill (through bracken in the summer). Look out for a style along this path. Cross the style and continue down the side of the field toward an electricity pylon. Pass to the right of the pylon and soon you will reach a road. Turn right and cross a bridge over a stream that supplies the reservoir. Shortly after the bridge turn left on the road that takes you back to the car park.
As you walk back to the car take a look at the tall trees over the other side of the reservoir. If you are lucky you may see herons on their huge nests.