Mum and St Anthony have been doing sterling work – this was another perfect walking day – bright and sunny and not too warm.
Haywards Heath station was pretty quiet for a midweek morning but the traffic was busy as I headed up towards the golf course. Within minutes I’d left the town and the traffic and was on a pleasant woodland path. There were a few golfers on the course – the greens were pristine, they looked as if they’d just been hoovered.
I walked this part of the trail four years ago with a group led by Michael and Alison Brown, who sponsored this section.
The walk took me through some beautiful scenery, through fields and woods and across some pretty streams and the River Ouse. One field gate sign indicated a bull was in residence – he wasn’t.
I’d recently been told that one had a better chance of escaping the charge of a bull than that of a cow because bulls lower their heads and charge with their horns so you are not in their line of vision and can run, but cows keep you in their sights as they charge. I’m glad I didn’t have to put the theory to the test!
One field, after a steady climb, afforded a fabulous view of the Ouse Valley Viaduct on one side and of Ardingly College on the other.
The South of England Showground at Ardingly has been the venue for FSH’s Christmas Fair over many years – sadly, due to Covid-19 the decision has been made to cancel it this year. This will be the first year since the charity was founded 25 years ago, that we won’t be organising one.
After another field and footpath I emerged at the southerly corner or Ardingly Reservoir. There were groups of young people in wetsuits at the Activity Centre surrounded by colourful water sports paraphernalia.
On the water little fleets of sailing dinghies were being brought to order by instructors in boats with engines. It was a lovely sight to behold, especially on such a lovely sunny day. There were little beaches where people were swimming and picnicking.
Ardingly Reservoir is designated as a Local Nature Reserve and is home to a great number of bird species – it has two bird hides on the east bank which I walked along. The trail took me up to the northern end of the reservoir and to Balcombe Mill, an attractive Grade II listed building. A steepish climb and a few fields on brought me into the residential outskirts of Balcombe and on to Balcombe station.
Not far from here is Balcombe Place, a Grade II listed country house built in 1856, the venue for a splendid reception for FSH’s corporate supporters in 2019 thanks to the generous hospitality of owners, Fo and Charlie Martin.
My thanks to longstanding supporters of FSH, Michael and Alison Brown who generously sponsored this section of the Trail.