The Next Ride : Sunday 20th September 2015: Balcombe to Wivelsfield

8 September 2015

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.

Jim.

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The Next Ride: Sunday 2 December 2012 – Haywards Heath Circular (Ouse Trilogy Part III)

20 November 2012

Lindfield – Ardingly – Balcombe – Staplefield – Slaugham – Plummers Plain – Warninglid – Cuckfield

You want to come on this ride? Well, it’s LONG; it’s HILLY; and some of it is on BUSY ROADS. Still want to come? OK, but don’t say you haven’t been warned!

This is the third and last Ouse ride, continuing on from my Lewes-Haywards Heath ride of 20 May, which itself followed on from Seaford-Lewes on 22 January. As it is a themed ride, we can’t be too choosy about the terrain or the length of it. Our patience and/or stamina will be rewarded as we will eventually find the infant Ouse in a channel only a foot wide (though we probably can’t get to the actual source).

We’ll start off with a crossing of the river one bridge upstream from where we left it last time – at Lindfield Bridge. Then to Ardingly for a possible coffee stop, after which a big zig-zag and another bridge (Lower Ryelands Bridge) bring us to the most famous of all the bridges over the Ouse – the Ouse Valley Viaduct with its 11 million bricks. This is a railway bridge of course – the road crosses the river here at the somewhat humbler Upper Ryelands Bridge. 

We’ll then continue to Balcombe in order to access Rocks Lane and Rowhill Lane, which is a Big Hill, and I’m afraid it’s the “up” variety. We have whizzed down this hill twice on previous rides, and now it’s payback time. We will walk. At the top we get an impressive view of the viaduct, but a more impressive view awaits us later on.

Then off-road to Staplefield, where we will have lunch at the Victory Inn. At nearby Slaugham we’ll revisit the Ouse, which is now just a few feet across, behind the ruins of Slaugham Place and St Mary’s Church.

Now we have to get into detective mode, as there are conflicting accounts of where the river actually begins. V.M.Taylor’s River Valley Odyssey, which has provided some useful nuggets of information for the previous rides in this series, claims that it originates in “three small waterfalls” on the south side of an old hammer pond north-west of Slaugham. We will find these (one of which I think is what is known as a “fish ladder”) but we will then go on to look at the other candidate, which joins this branch further south. My money’s on this one; just about all the other authorities I have researched say that the Ouse rises “near Lower Beeding” – and they wouldn’t say that if they meant Slaugham, which is just as big; one actually mentions Plummers Plain, a sort of blip on the map which is near to Lower Beeding. It is here that we’ll find the second branch, disappearing across a field in a narrow trench.

Then we’ll speed back to Haywards Heath via Warninglid and Cuckfield, partly reversing the outward route taken on my last Haywards Heath ride, on 11th July 2010, and revisiting the delightful Blunts Wood & Paiges Meadow nature reserve. Before Cuckfield we get a splendid view of the viaduct in the distance, pretty well broadside-on. Tea at Haywards Heath if wanted.

In order to provide a little diversion from the hard graft, I will be distributing copies of my OUSE QUIZ at the start of the ride; judging and prizegiving will be done at lunchtime. To prepare for this, you may wish to consult the descriptions and reports for all three Ouse rides, and any others which seem relevant. (And yes, I realise the report for this one will not exist at the time; but you wouldn’t want it to be TOO easy, would you?)

Vital Statistics:

Start from Haywards Heath station at 10:00.
Length: 26 miles (a shorter version, 11 miles, is available for anyone who wants to get the train home from Balcombe and get their own lunch; alternatively you can join us at Balcombe for a 15 mile ride; let me know if you are planning to do this).
Duration: about 6 hours including coffee and lunch. (Longer with a tea stop)
Terrain: Mainly on hard surfaces. Some off-road. Some hills. Some busy roads: the B2028 (Lindfield-Ardingly) may exercise us a little, but the B2115 (Plummers Plain to Cuckfield) is quieter.
Lunch: Victory Inn at Staplefield
Getting there: Get the 9:14 or 9:34 train from Brighton. Londoners should get the 8:41 from London Bridge or the 9:02 from London Victoria. If joining at Balcombe, catch the 11:00 from Brighton.
Getting home: trains from Haywards Heath to Brighton at 08, 31, 36, 54 minutes past the hour and to London every 10-15 minutes.

N.B. Sun sets at 4. Bring lights.

Jim.