Section 21 Out
Ardingly to Balcombe
|OS Explorer 135 Ashdown Forest
|4 miles/ 2 hours
|The Ardingly Inn, Ardingly village. On street parking possible. Cross and turn left (there is a narrow path along the top of the verge). Just past the first house on the right, turn right into the entrance to Wakehurst Place. Keep on for some way along this drive, ignoring a path soon going off right. Pass a car park on the left and then the rear of a café (the Seed Café).
|A short but varied walk passing through Wakehurst Place, deer parks and lakes. Some uphill climbs.
With the Ardingly Inn behind, walk straight up the short road ahead to meet the main road. Cross and turn left uphill out of the village for ¼ mile. Pass the village shop on the left and keep on up the pavement. Houses end on the left and the showground begins. Eventually turn right down a side road called Cob Lane.
Go steeply down and soon left around a bend. In about 100 metres turn left off the road up a bridleway into trees. Keep on for some way. At the top of a very steep incline reach a T-junction in front of a house. Here turn right downhill on another bridleway. Follow this for 1 ½ miles, with no stiles. Follow an excellent path through mixed woodland, then continue on an enclosed path by a field.
At a junction of farm tracks keep forward slightly downhill. Ignore a footpath coming in from the right and at a Y-fork bear left slightly uphill. Keep on for some way. Eventually reach a junction of tracks with a lake down on the right. Here turn left uphill on a gravel track. Soon leave the track to go left uphill steeply into woods. In a short distance reach a metal fieldgate. Do not go through but turn right again steeply uphill into woods. Emerge between cottages onto a main road.
At a crossroads go straight across. At a Y-fork bear right downhill, still on the drive (there is a sign saying footpath to Forest Ridge).
The signs now stop. Keep forward in the same direction ignoring side turnings. Pass a modern building (the Millennium Seed Bank) down on the right. Keep forward past Havelock Farm. The drive becomes a gravel track and finally swings right towards houses. Leave it and go straight forward by a tall, wooden fence to a wire gate.
Through the gate go down an enclosed path to another wire gate, and on downhill between deer parks. At the bottom go through two more wire gates to leave the deer parks and reach a stile into woods. Cross a cross path and go forward steeply downhill. Soon cross a vehicle track and go on to a wire gate. Keep on down to a boardwalk and eventually a footbridge. Cross and continue, now uphill.
Cross two more footbridges, then go very steeply uphill to a wooden swing gate into a field. Follow a fence and trees on the left to a corner. Turn right and continue along field edge uphill for some distance. Eventually reach a stile in the top left corner and emerge onto a road.
Bera right a few paces, then left down a gravel track. At a junction of tracks by gates, bear slightly left (virtually straight on), through a gap into the corner of a field. Go down the edge of the field with a hedge on the left (Balcombe can be seen on the hill ahead).
Cross a stile at the bottom by farm buildings over on the right. Turn left down the centre of a field, parallel to the hedge on the right (do not drift left towards trees). At the bottom of the field cross a stile by a rusty fieldgate and turn right along the top edge of a field with a hedge and trees on the right. At the end of the field cross a stile by a metal field gate onto a concrete farm track.
Turn left down this. Reach and cross the end of Balcombe Lake on the right. Immediately past it turn right through a metal kissing gate into a field and follow the fence on the right to a further metal kissing gate into another field. Turn sharp right and follow the edge of the field with trees on the right. At the end of this field go through a metal kissing gate to the side of the lake.
Go forward with the lake on the right and keep on the path as it swings inland through woods. Follow the clear path for some way. Cross three footbridges and soon after a fourth. At a bend bear left uphill. On reaching a T-junction turn left again uphill. Soon exit the woods through a wooden kissing gate into a grassy space.
Continue uphill with a hedge then a ha-ha on the right. Pass Balcombe House on the right and aim for a metal fieldgate with houses beyond. On reaching the gate go through a metal kissing gate at the side and turn right on a gravel roadway.
Keep on this uphill between houses to suddenly emerge into the centre of Balcombe by the village stores then the Half Moon pub and the end of the section.