Lindfield/Ardingly – Freshfield – Scaynes Hill – North Chailey
Wivelsfield station has always been effectively “out of bounds” for Clarion rides because of the 62 steps we would have to carry our bikes up on the way back. But recently I’ve noticed, while passing through on the way to London, that a ramp has appeared on the southbound platform. Unfortunately, there is no sign of a ramp on the northbound platform … yes, Wivelsfield station is now officially semi-step-free! So if you were in a wheelchair, you could go from Wivelsfield to Brighton by train but not back again (unless you changed at Haywards Heath and used the lifts there).
Balcombe station has always been semi-step-free, of course, and what’s more, the accessible side is the northbound platform. So this ride suggested itself – in fact, it did more than that, it insisted on being brought into life, despite having its fair share of undulations.
The ride incorporates (in reverse) sections of previous rides, including my Lewes-Haywards Heath (Ouse II) and Haywards Heath Circular (Ouse III) rides from 2012.
We set off through Balcombe village and get a splendid view of the Ouse Valley viaduct before crossing the river at Upper Ryelands Bridge. Then eastwards along Copyhold Lane to High Beech Lane.
There is a short cut to Lindfield here along a bridleway. It may be bumpy or muddy, or both. We can decide on the day whether to take it. If not, we can go on the road, reaching Freshfield via Ardingly, and adding 2 miles.
From Lindfield we take a possibly new-to-us route (Park Lane and Plummerden Lane) to Freshfield and then North Chailey, re-crossing the Ouse twice more and also the Bluebell line twice. The route passes two pubs but – Sod’s law! I found out after doing the recce that the King’s Head is closing (for good) on the 15th September, and the Sloop does not reopen until October. So I’m afraid I have had to resort to choosing a pub “remotely”; it’s the Inn on the Green at Scaynes Hill, which requires a small (2 mile) detour from our route.
After lunch we cross Chailey Common, where there are interesting curly-horned black sheep grazing by the side of the road. We then take in all the Wivelsfields – Wivelsfield Green, Wivelsfield itself, and Worlds End, which is where the station is, although it’s really a suburb of Burgess Hill these days.
Distance: 20 miles (or 22 if avoiding the bridleway)
Duration: about 5½ hours
Terrain: see above. The short sections of A275 and A272 have footpaths. There are undulations, but not many after Park Lane.
Start at: Balcombe Station, platform 1 exit, 10:30
Getting there: Take the 10:00 train from Brighton or the 9:27 from London Victoria. Don’t miss the train as it is only an hourly service.
Getting home: Trains leave Wivelsfield for Brighton at 26 minutes past the hour, and for London at 15 and 35 minutes past.