Heathfield Walk

Heathfield Walk

by Robert Veitch

Robert Veitch and his cousin Louise Prieto set out to explore the hinterland of Heathfield. Join them on their ramble over the old railway line and across field and woodland.

From Newnham Way car park head south along the Cuckoo Trail. Ever so slightly downhill, it’s easy walking along this former railway line. There’s a pair of metal gates at the junction with Harley Lane and safety barriers precede the crossing of Old Ghyll Road.

Shortly after is a nod to the past, a tip of the station master’s hat to the Cuckoo Trail’s previous incarnation. ‘Frenches Halt’ is definitely worth pausing for. “So impressive,” noted Louise, “I love the signal.” It’s easy to imagine how things might have been a century ago; puffs of steam and squealing brakes as the 5:15pm from Waldron and Horeham Road slowed in readiness to stop at Heathfield station.

At the next junction, cross Ghyll Road using the Pelican Crossing, rejoining the trail on the corner of Treetops Way.

A milepost marker precedes the crossing of Runts Farm Bridge. Then it’s under the bridge at West Street Lane. 250m later peel off to the left, before the bridge over Tubwell Lane. Walk up the hill to the junction with the B2203. Cross the main road carefully, ambling downhill into Sicklehatch Lane, all the way to the bridge over Waldron Gill. 75m beyond the bridge turn sharp left into Sapperton Wood.

Once past the metal gate bear right at the fork, and follow the path north, hugging the barbed wire on the right, heading in the same general northerly direction at the fingerpost. It’s a little soft in places amongst the chestnut trees, but it firms up as holly supersedes the chestnut. Fallen trunks and multitudes of exposed roots precede the intersection known locally as ‘five ways.’

Head north, indicated by the ‘Wealden Walks’ sign, over the fallen silver birch towards a pair of stiles, 100m apart. A short jaunt uphill leads to a wooden 5-bar gate.

Beyond the gate and a wooden shed, is a stile on the right. Over this, the path leads downhill diagonally across the field into the hedge and a stile. Keep right in the next field, wandering downhill to yet another stile.

Once over this, turn left, then right, following the track across the dam, keeping Old Mill Pond on the left. Turn right at the bird box by the wooden gate, then across the field towards the drive. Follow the drive uphill, turning left onto Nettlesworth Lane, then 30m later crossing the stile on the right.

In the distance is the spire of All Saints Church, Old Heathfield. A glorious sight whatever the weather. “That’s so beautiful,” eulogised Louise. “I’m so glad I’ve come out on this walk.” There’s a rather wobbly stile to clamber over, but overall, it’s a lovely uphill jaunt to the kissing gate in the iron fence. Turn left and amble to the end of the drive, to the junction with Church Street.

Turn left and walk downhill, on the right of the road towards any oncoming traffic. After 200m bear right into Weaversbrook Lane keeping the sandstone perimeter wall of Heathfield Park on the right.

Where the road turns sharp right, the path heads into the woods by the black and white chevron. After the stile the going underfoot may be squelchy and sticky along the left side of the field all the way to  the next stile. Keep left in the next field, all the way to the following stile, then downhill to the bridge. Once up the steps created by exposed tree roots keep going to the broken, disused stile. Turn right onto the tarmac drive and follow it for almost half a mile to the junction with Sandy Cross Lane.

Turn left and walk to the main road. Cross carefully and trot down the steps. Then wander downhill to rejoin the Cuckoo Trail at the Old Ghyll Road junction, hopefully looking reassuringly familiar.

Turn right and head north. Suburbia returns suddenly as the back gardens of Heathfield populate all views. Back at the car park it was time to reflect… “This was time well spent, such lovely surroundings, I found a new kind of love,” smiled Louise, “…walking around Heathfield!”

Distance: 51⁄4 miles

Walk Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Stiles: 9

Map: Explorer OL25

Refreshments: Take your own, or treat yourself in Heathfield

Parking: Free parking at Newnham Way car park

Robert has tested the route personally, making sure it is suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email editorial@sussexliving.com