I am a passionate advocate of walking – it’s free, keeps you fit and is good for the mind, body and soul. I am originally from an island (a very big one) down under but left the sunny shores of Australia for outdoor adventures far and wide. I think I can now call England my (home away from) home, surely after 9.5 years right? I live in Brighton & Hove (funnily enough Hove actually!) and have come to love the place, a vibrant city that has amazing countryside on its doorstep. West Sussex with its fantastic countryside and charming pubs has it all for me, from coastal walks to country trails. Between working up in ol’ London Town and living by the sea you cannot beat a fair dinkum country walk in the fresh air with stunning landscapes.
The walk today is a 7 mile circular, Balcombe and Ardingly Reservoir, starting out at the rail station. I am with my girlfriend Emma and my dearest mum Kerry who is over visiting from Oz. We set off on our ramble, passing by some lovely houses in Balcombe, before reaching our first pasture and some fellow walkers passing by and wishing us well. After navigating some steps down we get a first glimpse of Ardingly Reservoir by Balcombe Mill. The residents on each side of the lane, both by the water, sure do have an amazing setting. It isn’t long before we are strolling the reservoir banks.
After a stile and grassy meadow, we find ourselves in a crop field. At the top we take a lil break to catch our breath… I mean take in the views back over our shoulder, out over the reservoir and water sports centre. We soon join Church Lane, taking a peak at some quaint and lovely residences of Ardingly before coming to St. Peters Church. Once we hit the South of England Showground we know we are about halfway and soon have the chance to stop at the fantastic (just past) halfway house. The Gardeners Arms is a homely inn with bare brick walls, exposed beams and amazing open fire place that you could definitely lose a Sunday in, complemented with a lovely Sunday roast (they are good!), a Sunday paper and a fine ale to wash it down.
We come to the nearby Tillinghurst Farm and passing by the farm’s barns and outbuildings we encounter some geese and, shortly after, a herd of cattle trundling down a hillside meadow. I’d recommend a bench not much further ahead, it’s the perfect spot to take in the views and take respite should you have indulged a little too much at the pub. The walk from here takes you downhill into some lovely woodland, by the grounds of Kew at Wakehurst. After reaching a beautiful arched footbridge across the north-east arm of the Ardingly Reservoir the end is nigh. There is a steep incline and some local lanes to encounter but before long you are back in Balcombe, where you can visit the local shops, tea rooms or further quench your thirst at the local pub.
If you like a little bit of everything on your walk, then the contrast of this walking trail is fantastic and most certainly for you. From a gentle stroll along the reservoir edge, the rolling countryside meadows, through woodland trails with lush ferns alongside and the potential for some mud, not to mention two pubs! So pack your wellies for this one as there were some boggy spots but what’s a country walk without some mud.
I encourage everyone to get out there and put their best foot forward, happy walking 😉