Wakehurst Place To Balcombe Walk
by Les Campbell
There are many lovely views to enjoy on this linear walk through the countryside between Wakehurst and Balcombe. Just remember to pack your stamina for the hills!
This 3.5 mile walk starts from Wakehurst Place to the north of Ardingly and finishes in the village of Balcombe. It has been designed in mind for those with bus passes as it is a linear walk. Despite being relatively short, it is quite hilly in places and this more than compensates for the comparatively short distance! It uses mainly established tracks, woodland and field headland paths, and the route is generally well signposted.
Wakehurst Place is the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and is leased from the National Trust. It is famed for it’s botanic gardens and tree collections and the Millennium Seed Bank.
Go through a side gate beside a cattle grid, over a crossing track and at a fork in the tracks, take the right hand fork signed to Forest Ridge.
The long building on your right is the Millennium Seed Bank.
Where the path bears right towards buildings, carry on ahead downhill on a wide grassy track. Go through a gate and into woodland, bearing right to follow the signed path.
Please note that this path is the only official public right of way through these woodlands, all others are only for visitors to Wakehurst Place who have paid an entrance fee!
At a wide crossing track, carry on ahead, and go through a large metal kissing gate before descending to a board walk across a wet area. Follow the meandering path ahead to cross a plank bridge then go steeply uphill on a stepped path helpfully provided with a handrail! At the top of the steps, follow the path ahead which bears right, leading to a gate into a field. Turn left to walk alongside the wood, then right uphill on an obvious headland path. At the top of the field go over a stile and into Paddockhurst Lane.
Turn right for a few yards, then left on a track signed to Forest Farm. Where the track bears right, carry on ahead through a metal gate, and follow the signed path downhill on a left hand field edge. At the bottom of the field, with the buildings of Woodward’s Farm to your right, bear left and cross the field diagonally to a stile at the corner of woodland ahead. Turn right and follow a right hand field edge out to join a concrete track. Turn left along this track descending to Balcombe Lake.
After pausing to admire the views across the lake, carry on along the track, now tarmacked, going slightly uphill to join Mill Lane. Turn right for a few yards along this lane, then right over a stile on a signed path. Cross the field ahead dropping downhill to go through a kissing gate and over a footbridge. Bear left uphill alongside woodland, and at the top go left through a kissing gate. Cut off the corner of the cricket field to go through a gap then follow the obvious track uphill going left for the centre of Balcombe by the Half Moon Pub.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 135
Refreshments: Balcombe Tea Rooms and the Half Moon Pub
Public Transport: Metro Bus route 82 (outbound) from Haywards Heath, and Sussex Bus route 37 (return) to Haywards Heath. Balcombe Railway Station is a short distance away.