The Bluebell Steam Railway and Sheffield Park Garden

By rail and bus

The High Weald is easily accessible by train from London and the coast and there are bus services between main towns and key attractions.

Below we have suggested some destinations and activities, many off the beaten track. All times are from London and are only indicative. We  recommend planning your visit to avoid missing the last train or bus (especially important on a Sunday when services can be more limited).

Ardingly Reservoir and the Ouse Valley Viaduct

Ardingly Reservoir is a local nature reserve known for its wide range of birdlife.

How to get here
Hop on a Thameslink or Southern train on the London – Brighton line (approx. journey time 41 mins) alighting at Balcombe station which is less than a mile away from the village.

A short taxi journey (book ahead, approx. 15 min) will take you to the reservoir for the start of the Kingfisher Trail, a walking route around the reservoir and to the Ardingly Activity Centre which offers dinghy, board and kayak hire and a range of water sports (book ahead).

The circular 2 ¼ mile Balcombe Walk (approx. 1h25min) starting in Balcombe village takes in views of the Reservoir and Balcombe Lake. The 6 mile linear Ouse Valley Viaduct Walk (approx. 2h 45min) starting in Balcombe village passes the Reservoir and the Ouse valley viaduct, an imposing feature of the London – Brighton line with an impressive view from the ground up. The walk ends in Haywards Heath where you can return by train to Balcombe or London.

Eat and drink
Balcombe: Balcombe tea rooms, The Half Moon Inn and Balcombe Stores.
Ardingly Reservoir: Black Hut café.

Wakehurst Place

A historic house surrounded by 500 acres of exotic trees, lawns and gardens which intermingle with the High Weald’s natural features of steep-sided valleys, small streams, wildflower grasslands and sandstone outcrops. The site is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank which holds 25% of the world’s species of plant. Find out more on the National Trust’s website and Kew Gardens website.

How to get here
Take a Southern or Thameslink trains from London to either Three Bridges or Haywards Heath. Take a 15min taxi ride from either train station or change to the 272 bus operated by Metrobus which stops at the Wakehurst entrance (approx. 1h20min).

Eat and drink
Cafes at the visitor entrance and next to the house.

Forest Way

East Grinstead is the start of the Forest Way, a disused railway line which has been converted into a 10 mile cycle and walkway ending at Groombridge. Bring your own bike, or hire one at Forest Row, a village 3.5 miles east of East Grinstead which can be reached by the 261, 270 or 291 bus from the railway station.

Eat and drink
There are refreshment stops at Forest Row, Hartfield and Groombridge including: the Anchor Inn, a 15th century pub; Pooh Corner, a Winnie the Pooh themed café; and the Crown Inn which is fronted by an attractive village green.

The Bluebell Steam Railway and Sheffield Park Garden

Hop off the mainline train at East Grinstead and jump straight onto a steam train for a scenic ride along the well-preserved Bluebell Steam Railway to Sheffield Park (approx. 40 min). From the station it takes 10 minutes to walk across a field to Sheffield Park Garden. Created by Capability Brown the garden is centred on four scenic lakes and is now cared for by the National Trust.

Eat and drink
Cafes at the Bluebell Railway stations and at Sheffield Park Garden.

Central High Weald

Ashdown Forest

A large area of wildlife-rich heaths and woods and the setting that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books. The site lies on the highest ridge of the High Weald and you can wander at will across the 2500 hectare area, taking in amazing views to the North and South Downs.

How to get here
Catch a Southern train from London to Uckfield and then take Metrobus 261 alighting at the Ashdown Forest Centre (approx. time 2hrs20min).

There are lots of self-guided walking routes: browse our publications library and find a route that’s the right length and location for you.

Eat and drink
There is no café at the Forest Centre. Unless planning a walk that passes one of the area’s pubs or cafes we recommend bringing your own food and drink.

Harrisons Rocks

A train to Eridge is a very quick route into the heart of the High Weald and is the gateway to impressive geological features that once sheltered Stone Age hunter gatherers and are now popular climbing crags.

How to get here
Join the Southern service on the London Charing Cross – Uckfield line, alighting at Eridge station, a quite station with no services (approx. 1 hour).

The circular 5.5 miles Eridge Walk (approx. 3 hours) from the station takes in Harrisons Rocks.

Eat and drink
The Huntsman pub is just around the corner from the station. Pubs and a village shop in Groombridge.

People rock climbing on sandstone rocks with woodland surrounding them

Mayfield – a medieval village

A Wealden village perched on a hill above the River Rother with a beautiful high street. The village sign shows the figure of a young woman and children in a flower covered meadow, illustrating the Saxon origin of the village name, Maghefeld, or Maid’s Field.

How to get here
Train from London to Royal Tunbridge Wells. Change here to the 252 or 251 bus run by Stagecoach (approx. 1h 35min).

The short Mayfield High Street Walk explores the village’s historic buildings. The 3 mile Mayfield Circular Walk passes farmsteads, small fields and ancient woodland hiding beautiful streams.

Eat and Drink
Pubs: Rose and Crown and Middle House.
Cafes: Pink Cabbage Produce Company and Truffles Bakery café.
All recommended.

Eastern High Weald

Battle Abbey and Museum

These attractions are located at the centre of a historic market town that has developed around the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings and nearby Battle Abbey.

How to get here South Eastern trains services from London to Battle run every half hour (approx. 1h20min). The town centre is a 10 minute walk (signposted) from the station.

Battle Abbey was built following the Battle of 1066 as penance for all those killed during William the Conqueror’s conquest of England. The site is cared for by English Heritage and there are tours, films and exhibitions which bring the Abbey and the Battle Field to life. Battle Museum is home to a large collection of historical artefacts relating to the surrounding area. The 4.5 mile circular Battle Walk takes in fields and woods and the linear, 15 mile 1066 Walk will take you to Rye.

Eat and drink
Battle has numerous bars, pubs and cafes catering for many tastes.

Boy jumping to catch frisbee with High Weald landscape in background

Robertsbridge – a medieval village

A quiet village with traditional Wealden architecture that is a good start and end point for a relaxed walk. It is the home of the Gray-Nicholls cricket bats; willow offcuts from the manufacturing process are used to make trugs: a hand-made wooden basket traditional to Sussex.

How to get here South Eastern trains from London to Hastings stop at Robertsbridge (approx. 1h20min)

The 5 mile circular Robertsbridge Walk will take you through hop fields which supply the Harvey’s brewery. For more about the area and other other ideas of things to do view our Discover Robertsbridge and Bodiam Guide.

Eat and drink
Café: Judges Bakery.
Pubs: The George Inn and the Salehurst Halt.

Bodiam Castle and River Rother

Bodiam is a small hamlet in the picturesque River Rother valley, centred on the magnificent ruin of the 14th century Bodiam castle.

How to get here A Southern Rail train from London to Hastings and Stagecoach bus 349 to Bodiam (approx. 2h30min).

Bodiam Castle is cared for by the National Trust who offer guided tours and family activities in the setting of gentle Wealden countryside. You can explore further afield by taking a cruise run by Bodiam Boating Station along the river Rother to Newenden (approx. 45 minutes). Return by boat or walk back along the river. The 5 mile circular Bodiam Walk starts and ending at Castle taking in the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

For more about the area and other other ideas of things to do view our Discover Robertsbridge and Bodiam Guide.

Eat and drink
Bodiam: The Castle Inn and National Trust café in the village and the The Hub at Quarry Farm.
Newenden: The White Hart pub and Lime Wharf café at the Bodiam boating station.

Rye and Winchelsea – medieval coastal towns

Bustling Rye, and the quieter and smaller medieval ‘planned’ town of Winchelsea, are both packed with historical buildings and features and great bases from which to explore the High Weald’s s coast, wetland and rivers.

How to get here Trains from London St. Pancreas or London Charing Cross run to Ashford International on the South East line. Here, change onto the Southern line to Eastbourne for both Rye and Winchelsea (approx. 1h10min).

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is located 2.5 miles away from Rye train station. One of the most important habitats in Sussex, the salt marsh habitats boast over 3,300 types of animal and flower.

Winchelsea offers great access to a number of walks along the coastline and countryside of this quiet corner of the High Weald. The 6.5 mile circular Winchelsea Walk takes in a range of views around the town returning via the Royal Military Canal (approx. 4 hours).

Eat and drink
Rye: Numerous cafes, pubs and restaurants catering for many tastes.
Winchelsea: A pub, café and farm shop in the village and café at Winchelsea beach.