Try this pretty walk around Balcombe Lake with a pub along the way
- Credit: Deirdre Huston
Follow this easy circuit through fields and along byways, around a tranquil lake nestled in the rolling hills of the High Weald AONB in Balcombe, Sussex
Words by Deirdre Huston
Balcombe village sits on a spur of land that stretches down from a forest ridge. Streams flow down the valley into the lake, then continue south east towards the River Ouse. This small body of water is nestled amid the low rolling hills of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and is much enjoyed by walkers and anglers.
Water depths vary and deepen towards the dam wall. Unlike nearby Ardingly Reservoir, which was created in 1979, Balcombe Lake is quite natural and used to be larger. Balcombe is surrounded by trees and there are boardwalks or planked walkways on some paths near the lake. Wear stout shoes or your toes may get wet.
Balcombe House is near the start of the walk. The Grade II Listed building was constructed in 1760 as a rectory at a cost of £1,400. Within 50 years, however, it was becoming too expensive for the rector to maintain and was sold as a private house.
Near the start of the walk, a planked walkway crosses water near the Chalybeate mineral spring. The source of the spring is not currently visible but the red water indicates the water is rich in iron salts. The colour comes from red iron oxide deposits in surrounding streams, and is one of several in the parish. In the past, the water was prized for its medicinal properties, although its taste was apparently less popular.
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Your step-by-step Balcombe walk
1. Start at The Half Moon Inn. Walk past Balcombe Stores. At the wooden waymarker, turn right along a footpath for a short way.
2. Turn left at the gate and signpost. Walk across the top of a livestock field. See Balcombe House to your left. Pass a gap/gate and signpost. Head for a wooden waymarker and go through a kissing gate. Walk straight ahead down a wooded path.
3. At the three-way signpost, walk straight ahead. Go down some steps and along a timber walkway over the spring water.
4. Emerge at a signpost and turn right along a track. Go through a gate. Pass a signpost and cross a stone bridge.
5. After about 25 metres, turn right at a signpost, along a path through woods. Walk along a timber walkway. Climb gradually. Go through a kissing gate into a field, and walk straight ahead and then diagonally right along a signed footpath. Pass a signpost and walk along the edge of the field.
6. Continue straight along the signed fenced footpath, ignoring a house to your right. Go through a kissing gate and walk straight on. Pass a signpost.
7. Turn right along the driveway to Forest Farmhouse. Continue along the footpath past more houses.
8. At the signpost, turn right through a metal gate and walk down a chalky track. Pass a signpost and go through a gate near an outbuilding. Walk left down the field towards some trees. Climb over a stile.
9. Turn right along a signed footpath along the edge of a field, and climb over a stile.
10. Turn left along a concrete footpath and track. Pass Balcombe Lake.
11. After the lake, at a signpost, turn right through a kissing gate. Walk across a field. Go through another gate, across a plank bridge, and turn right along the edge of the field. Go through a gate and walk along a lakeside path. Continue along the path, crossing several bridges, and a signpost, until you reach the wooden way marker at point three. Turn left to retrace your footsteps to the starting point.
Distance: 2.8 miles (4.6 km) - about one-and-a-half hours to walk, plus stops.
Terrain: Some paths can be muddy, or boardwalks flooded, so this walk is best enjoyed in dry weather. Some slopes and stiles.
Where to park: Roadside in Balcombe – at Stockcroft Road, for example.
Sat Nav: RH17 6PA.
Public transport: Balcombe railway station is on the edge of the village.
Map: OS Explorer 135 Ashdown Forest.
Dog-friendly: Yes, on lead in livestock fields.
READ MORE: 5 of the best art walks in Sussex
Where to eat and drink in Balcombe
Several handy picnic benches sit opposite or on the banks of Balcombe Lake. Or, you can call into one of these venues in the village...
The Half Moon Inn, Haywards Heath Rd, Balcombe, Haywards Heath RH17 6PA
This community-owned pub offers Sussex favourites, such as Harvey’s beer. The pub has a terrace, is dog- and child-friendly, and serves seasonal dishes. 01444 811582, halfmoonbalcombe.com
The Balcombe Tea Rooms, Hope Cottage, Bramble Hill, Balcombe, Haywards Heath RH17 6HR
Has an alfresco dining area with a choice of sandwiches, light bites, cakes and drinks. 01444 811777.