The Bluebell Way - 14 miles
The Bluebell Way might take you most of the day but there will never be a dull moment. Your journey starts with a ride along the Bluebell Railway, then heads south over the hills, passing ancient buildings, fording streams and crossing the edge of the Ashdown Forest along the way. There are a number of pubs just beyond the half way point if you need a little extra incentive to put your walking boots on.
Bluebell Railway ‘All Day Rover’, ‘Single’ and ‘Return’ tickets are currently not available due to Covid-19 restrictions. The train journey part of the walk will therefore only be possible when normal Bluebell Railway service resumes. For now we recommend that you take two cars, parking one at East Grinstead and the other at Sheffield Park for your return journey.
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 405 236|
|Post Code||TN22 3QU|
Bluebell Railway to East Grinstead
The walk starts with a historic journey along the Bluebell Railway to East Grinstead and returns you through an equally historic landscape.
Use the car park on the station side of the road at Sheffield Park Station. Click the “Find Start” button above to see this car park on a map. We suggest you do not use the overflow car park to avoid the possibility of getting locked in should your journey take a little longer than expected.
Catch the train and travel the full length of the line to East Grinstead. From the window of your moving train you will catch glimpses of the countryside you will be walking back through later. Hardly anywhere is flat (which was a real challenge for the builders of the railway in the 1880’s). Sit back and relax for a while until you arrive at East Grinstead Station where your adventure on foot begins.
As a guide the average walking pace in the countryside is about 3 miles per hour. Therefore, with an hour for lunch, the walk back might take about 6 hours depending on your pace (and how often you stop to admire the views).
Leg 1 – The Forest Way
Keeping left as you leave the Bluebell Railway station pass Sainsbury’s and head towards the main-line station. Follow the road as it bears right until you reach a roundabout. Go straight across the roundabout (keeping to the pavement of course) towards Mid-Sussex Timber and proceed along Railway Approach.
At the end of Railway Approach turn right. Cross the road at the traffic lights and continue gently uphill passing shops along the way. As you approach a mini roundabout take the road on your right
Cross the road at the pelican crossing, turn left and pass Clarenden House. You will soon be walking along the High Street along an elevated pathway and a row of timber-framed buildings. As you make your way you will see the tower of St. Swithuns Church over the rooftops on the left.
Continue along the High Street passing either side of the “middle row” of shops and continue past the Dorset Arms, beyond which you will pass more medieval buildings and Sackville College. Cross the road at a mini roundabout and continue to the next (larger) roundabout. At the roundabout take the footpath on the right and start your journey along the Forest Way.
Cross the road and continue along the Forest Way. Watch the countryside rise and fall around you as you glide along this level path. Perhaps spare a thought for the navvies who built the high banks with pick and shovel way before modern construction equipment. The path continues for 1 ¾ miles passing under a bridge half way.
When you reach a road crossing the Forest Way, turn right and follow the road. After 1/3 mile you will pass the three remaining towers of Brambletye House on the left. Just after the house, as the track swings to the right, take the footpath on the left. On the right, you will soon pass the faint outline of a moat which once surrounded ancient Brambletye Manor. Follow this path until you reach an old sandstone bridge.
Leg 2 – Ashdown Forest
Just after the bridge take the footpath on the right. It is your first encounter with a grassy surface! Pass through a gate and cross the stream over a concrete bridge and continue walking along the edge of the next field. After passing through a squeeze style you will reach a road. Cross the road and follow the footpath through the trees to a concrete track.
Turn right onto the track and follow it for ½ mile passing several cottages along the way. Looking right you will see St Swithuns church, providing a gauge for how far you have come so far. Go through a gate at Hen Barn and continue following the track until you see a style on the right.
Cross the style and follow the footpath uphill across a field. At the top of the hill you can see the Weirwood Reservoir and your last view of St. Swithuns. Go through a gate in the hedge and immediately take the footpath on the left. Pass through another gate and head across the field. As you reach the brow of the hill, you will see a style in the hedge.
Cross the style and head steeply downhill. You will see three lakes at the bottom of the hill. Pass between the lakes then over a wooden bridge over a ditch. The character of the countryside now changes dramatically. You are on the Ashdown Forest. Follow the path for about 100 yards and go through a metal gate. (There may be two gates visible at this point but you need to take the one on the left). After 15 yards take the footpath on your right, then after 12 yards take the footpath on the left, heading uphill through the trees.
Continue along the path as it levels out. The path is partially obstructed by the branches of a huge beech tree which has shed a number of limbs. Your footpath skirts to the left of its trunk. Just a few yards beyond this point you will encounter a more substantial track. Turn right onto the track and continue climbing as the path winds for 1/3 mile through the forest until you come to a road. Turn left onto the road.
The Goat Car park is a few yards down the road on the left. If you need a quick break there is a picnic bench just beyond the car park and a magnificent view back towards St Swithuns Church in the distance. You have come a long way already. Go straight on at the crossroad.
Leg 3 – Twyford
Turn right on the footpath along a well-made track towards Cripps Manor, passing Goat Farm on the right. Take the left-hand fork in the track towards Snuff Cottage. At the next fork in the path, take the track downhill. Keep to the left at the end of the track and continue on the footpath downhill.
Cross the wooden bridge and start a climb uphill again. You can either take the sunken path ahead to the left or the diverted path on the right which avoids mud in the winter; the paths will soon join. Continue uphill until you reach a road at Suttons Farm.
At the road turn right. Immediately after the entrance to Twyford Farm the road begins to dip downhill. Take the footpath ahead, to the right of the road, just past the red post box. Follow this path (a little uneven to start with) all the way to the bottom of the hill. Cross the ford (by the wooden footbridge in wetter months) and turn left at the T junction.
Cross another ford and continue uphill. Take the public bridleway through the gate on your right. Follow this track through Birchgrove Wood, passing a succession of lakes in the deep valley on your right until you reach a road. Turn right and continue along Birchgrove Road for ¼ mile.
Leg 4 – Sandpits Wood
As the road bears left uphill, take the footpath on the right through a gate at the entrance to Horsted Keynes Service Reservoir. Follow the footpath through the woods until you come to a field. Follow the footpath on the left of the field. Views open up to the right here as you walk along the field. After crossing a wooden footbridge over a ditch the footpath takes you into the churchyard of St Giles, Horsted Keynes. You may not have time during this walk but a stroll around the churchyard will reveal the resting place of several VIPs including Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Pass in front of the church and out onto Church Lane.
Walk all the way down the lane, past the Old Rectory gates, then up the hill along a short pedestrianised section until you reach the centre of Horsted Keynes at the top. Turn left towards the village green and cross the road opposite a red post box (mounted in a wall). You are now about 2/3 of the way through your journey. If you decide to have a break here there are two pubs on either side of the road; The Green Man and The Crown Inn. There are plenty of benches and seats dotted throughout the village if you have brought your own sandwiches and Horsted Keynes Stores if you need to top up your provisions.
When you are finished in Horsted Keynes, pass the post box by walking in the direction of the free car park and the Chapel Lane road sign. Turn left at the road sign and follow Chapel Lane past the chapel and a number of other houses along the way. At the end of Chapel Lane continue straight on along Wyatts Lane. Follow the public bridleway along the lane, ignoring all the other footpaths to the right and left. Go straight on when the lane eventually ends, continuing on the bridleway into Sandpits Wood. The path drops continuously until you reach Danehill Brook.
After a short uphill stretch you will reach a well-made tarmac track to Hole House. Turn right, uphill, along the track. At the top of the hill follow a grassy footpath as it forks off the track to the left. At the road turn right and walk along the road for 250 yards until you see a track opposite the entrance to Latchetts.
Cross the road and follow the track towards Longridge and Kidborough Farm. Take the first footpath on the right. (If you reach Longridge you have missed the footpath and gone too far). Now skirting along a hedge to your right the path disappears into woodland and eventually emerges later next to a field full of vines belonging to Bluebell Vineyard Estates.
Leg 5 – Town Place
Continue through a kissing gate and head along the path towards a timber-framed farmhouse in the distance. Turn right on the road, pass Town House and immediately take the next footpath on the left. The footpath initially follows the line of Town House’s boundary hedge. However, as the boundary ends, head straight across the field to the bottom left-hand corner.
Cross the double planked bridge and turn right. Follow the path and eventually you will come to the Bluebell Railway. Just before the path turns left along the railway bank you will see a style on the right. Opposite the style there is a path that disappears into the bushes. Take this path and you will suddenly find yourself crossing a bridge. Here is your chance to see a train, so you could stop for a while if you have the time. When you are ready to move on, walk downhill straight across the field until you reach a style by a large oak tree.
Cross the style and proceed to a road. Turn left and walk along the road until you reach the Sloop Inn. If you decided not to have refreshments at Horsted Keynes here is another chance. You are now about 2 miles away from your destination at Sheffield Park Station. Pass the Sloop and take the footpath on the left. The footpath leads you past Bacon Wish and Field Cottage.
After about 200 yards from the road, take a footpath on the right through pine and coppiced hornbeam. After a while you will come to a gate which opens into the Wowo Campsite. Follow the path across the field.
At the next footpath sign go straight on, ignoring the path on the right. Go through a gate into woodland. After about 1/3 mile the footpath turns right then immediately left. Now follow the path downhill until you reach the edge of the woods. Turn left and follow the path to Wapsborne Farm Manor House.
At the Manor, proceed along the track all the way to the end. As you go there are signs of industrial use of the landscape around Sheffield Park Station. You know you are nearly at your destination. Just before you reach the road take the footpath along the edge of the field. Then cross the road and walk back to Sheffield Park Station.
At last you have reached the end of your long walk. If the Bluebell Railway is still open, now might be a good time to celebrate the end of your achievement by taking some refreshment at the station. You deserve it! Otherwise, there is a picnic area to the right of the station entrance if you have brought your own supplies. We hope you enjoyed the journey.
Waypoint Arrival Times – 2021 Timetable