Barcombe Mills Walk
by Robert Veitch
Grab some stout footwear and then with a skip and spring in your stride, make the most of warmer days and lighter evenings with our walk around Barcombe Mills and along the River Ouse.
This walk is a good stomp, feeling at times like a long yomp, but it’s pan flat and well worth the effort. From the Barcombe Mills car park, walk west under the giant oak towards the narrow road. Follow the road over Pikes Bridge and the Andrews Stream, past the fish ladder, around the weir pool and then across the old toll bridge. Wander down the drive opposite the old toll bridge, turning left at the T-junction. Follow the concrete roadway until the path bears right by the silo.
Across the far side of the field, take the steps down to, and across the track-bed of the old railway line. Look left and the old station is in the distance. It closed in 1969 as part of Uckfield to Lewes line. Up the other side and through a narrow gap, keep the hedge on the right and follow the path all the way to the road.
Turn right at the road and after 25m the fingerpost will point the way ahead, across the field to the distant gap in the hedge. A buzzard was circling overhead when we tested the route, gracefully surfing the skies. Through the gap turn right and walk adjacent to the hedge for 200m, before the fingerpost indicates the route turns left, across the field to the beam bridge in the distance. Once across the bridge and over the Bevern Stream, the path cuts across a small field to a 5-bar metal side gate.
Beyond this gate, turn right immediately, walking between the hedges, before turning left at the base of the wooden steps. The path runs parallel to the old railway for almost 400m before clinging to the northern rim of the field for 200m until a gap in the hedge appears. Once through the gap, turn left and follow the perimeter of the field clockwise for about 175m before passing through another gap in the hedge on the left. Repeat the process in the next field, but carry on until the path meets the road.
Turn right and walk along the road for just over 200m. A blue arrow on a telegraph pole indicates that the route is through the pair of metal gates on the left and along the bridleway beyond, known as Blunt’s Lane.
Initially, the bridleway is quite wide, bordered by hedges and ancient oaks. It’s squelchy in places and readers will be pleased they wore the right footwear. It flicks left and then flicks right about half way along. Keep going as far as the brick pillbox at Blunt’s Green. Veer left at the pillbox towards the large oak with a footpath marker nailed to it. Follow the line of trees, all the way to the northern edge of the field. Longford Stream will be on the right. About 30m beyond the metal gate and down a muddy slope, Overs Bridge crosses the stream.
Once across, stride out towards the distant gates and bridge, passing a well-fenced sapling in the middle of the field. Access to White Bridge is via gates or stiles. Crossing the River Ouse, note it’s the most northerly point of the walk and rejoice because now, it’s south all the way.
Take the stile on the right and hug the riverbank to the next stile and the stile after that. The shadow of the path can be seen in the grass as it makes a beeline across the fields, past a solitary swing, all the way to a distant kissing gate.
As the River Ouse meanders to the right, follow it to the furthest right of the three railway bridges. Passing under the girders, a solitary tree has grown up between them, branches reaching out for the light above. False memories of the 5:15 from Lewes to Eridge are easy to imagine as the breeze whistles through remains of a bygone age. Some hope this line will reopen one day.
Keeping the ever widening river on the right, follow it all the way to the bridge by the pub. Cross the bridge and follow the short coniferous hedge to its far end, before turning left and heading towards the kissing gate by the sluice gates.
The River Ouse is now on the left. Continue through another small gate, just across the river from a swinging seat. The path bears left at the pillbox and then follows a new fence-line to a driveway.
Walk along the driveway opposite for 50m before turning left behind the corrugated building and cross the river once again. Hug the riverbank all the way to the kissing gate, which is actually the southern tip of an island. With the River Ouse on both sides the path narrows, but do not worry, this is not the end of the line or the highway to hell, because there is a bridge across the river a little further on.
Once across the bridge, turn right and follow the river to another kissing gate. It may be soft underfoot. Beyond the kissing gate the sound of distant falling water will begin to emanate. Walk towards the sound, then across the bridge. Turn right and follow the path back to Pikes Bridge and the road from where we began.
It’s time for the journey home, then tea and cake, and probably a medal too!
Distance: 5 miles
Walk Time: 2:15 – 3 hours
Map: Ordnance Survey OL11 and OL25
Refreshments: One pub en route
Parking: Free parking at Barcombe Mills
Bus Routes: 122