Walk from Standen to Kingscote Bluebell Railway
A country walk for more experienced walkers to and from Kingscote Station and the celebrated Bluebell Steam Railway.
Please note normal admission applies to enter the property and car park
The Bluebell Steam Railway has recently been reconnected to the mainline station at East Grinstead. Connecting trains can be taken to Sheffield Park or into the historic town of East Grinstead.
Standen car park, grid ref: TQ391356
Leave the car park and walk up the hill towards the house. At the top turn left and walk along the path with the Kitchen Garden on your left and Goose Green on the right.(1) Continue ahead on the mettled and grass path through the rhododendrons, and woodland until you reach second wooden gate (do not turn into Hollybush Wood) into a field. (2)
As you approach you can see the original farm cottages and buildings dating from before the construction of the main house. This area known as Goose Green was part of the working farm and the Beale family allowed animals to graze here. It was part of the route taken by the cows on their way to and from milking which includes the path through the centre of the garden, called the farm track and the dairy buildings now house the café. Here you can picnic and have the opportunity to use our facilities, café and shop.
Go through the gate and bear left to follow the path along the edge of a small wood, with a barbed wire fence to your left. Ignore the first stile and continue downhill. Go through the metal gate at the edge of the wood, turn left and follow the path downhill towards the reservoir. Go over a stile. At the next finger post turn right to follow the High Weald Landscape Trail. Continue along the right-hand edge of the field to a metal gate in the bottom corner. (3) (Note the position of this gate. On your return, this is where you will turn left to head back up the hill towards Standen.) Here the High Weald Landscape Trail joins the Sussex Border Path. Go through a gate and turn right and continue along this path, with the reservoir and chain-link fence on your left until you meet a tarred lane. This is the old road which was submerged by the water, and blocked by a padlocked double iron gate. (4)
High Weald Landscape Trail
The High Weald Landscape Trail crosses the counties of Sussex and Kent, starting at Horsham and ending at Rye. It is 89 miles (143km) long and it meanders through farms, hop gardens and meadows, and links ridge top villages and sandstone outcrops.
Turn right at this gate uphill for a few hundred yards, as it turns left and levels off. Turn right at the junction with the road (Please take care here as visibility is poor - Wear High Viz Jackets if possible.) Walk 50 yards uphill to the finger post. (5) Opposite the entrance to Stone Hill House cross the road, and proceed slightly uphill along a rough track. Walk along this path, which is a continuation of the High Weald Landscape Trail, until you reach the sign for Stone Farm Rocks. Turn left at the sign for a lovely view of Weir Wood Reservoir. Return to the main path above the rocks and turn left to continue along the path as it goes downhill until you reach a three way finger post and a metal gate at the top of the hill.
Admans or Admiral's bridge
Before the reservoir was created this lane used to go across the River Medway, via Admiral’s Bridge. This is still exposed when summers are very dry. Admiral’s is a corruption of Admans Bridge (1615). Admans was first recorded (1567) as the name of two meadows nearby. In 1789 the old wooden bridge was replaced by a new one of brick and stone.
Go through the gate, and head downhill across the field in the direction of the pylon. Go through a gap in the trees at the bottom, and follow the stream to a wooden foot bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left in front of a pylon to follow a track to a finger post at the entrance of a wood. You are still following the High Weald Landscape Trail. (6) Follow the path through the woods, cross the stile and climb a steep bank to cross the Bluebell railway line. Go down the steep bank on the other side and cross a waymarked stile into a wood. (7)
The Bluebell Railway follows part of the course of the old East Grinstead to Lewes line. This railway dates from 1882 and ran until 1958. In the early 1960s the section from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes was saved and went into private hands. Since then a dedicated band of volunteers has restored and run the railway and made Horsted Keynes station one of the finest preserved stations in the country. In 2014 after the removal of 1000s of tonnes of rubbish the line was finally re-connected to the main line station at East Grinstead.
Follow the path through the wood to emerge onto a tarred lane. Turn right (ignoring the path to the right) for about 500yd (450m) to a large wooden gate and stile. (8) Go through the gate or over the stile and continue straight ahead along the lane. Just past Brookbank and Holly Tree Cottages on the right, the lane swings around to the left and you can see the railway line again. Where the lane joins from the left continue straight ahead. The lane goes under the overhead lines, between hedgerows and through a wood. The wood on your right opens out onto a large field, with two large white houses in the bottom right hand corner. Continue for about 100yd (90m) downhill and look for a gap in the right hand hedge with a finger post. Go through the gap and follow around the edge of the field towards the houses, keeping the woodland on your left. (9)
Kingscote house was built in 1866 for a Mr Josiah King, hence the name. When the railway was being built in the 1880s the house was occupied by the engineer Mr John Barry. When the station was built it was given the name Kingscote by association.
At the end of the field turn left onto a track and follow uphill, through a metal gate onto Vowells Lane. Kingscote Station, part of the Bluebell railway line, is immediately to your right. (10)
A notice board left of the entrance porch gives notice of the closing of the East Grinstead to Lewes line on Monday 17th March 1958. The station was re-opened on 23rd April 1994 and now it is part of a regular route between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park. See the website for timetables - http://www.bluebell-railway.com/timetable-and-fares/
After visiting Kingscote Station, retrace your steps. Go left down the private road. Just before the large white house (Bluebell Cottage) go right along the right hand field edge. At the lane, turn left. Where the path forks go straight ahead (signed to Mill Place farm) passed Brookbank Cottage and Holly Tree Cottage on your left. Before the wooden gate, turn left down the lane to Mill Place Farm. (11) Go under the railway bridge and continue ahead along the track through the farm buildings and past a pond on your left. Continue until you reach a brick bridge. Go over the bridge and follow the track around to your right past another pond on your left. Keep ahead following the fence and hedge on your left and a stream on your right. Continue up the sunken track around the left-hand edge of the field, following the line of finger posts, to the top of the field. Continue passed the rocks on the right and retrace your steps to the road.
The name Mill Place was first noted 1547. It was part of Lewes Priory’s manor of Imberhorne from the early 12th century but later became independent of it. A water powered Iron Furnace was working here in the 16th and 17th centuries. The core of the building dates from the late 14th century, with 16th century and Victorian additions. It is grade II listed.
Take care here. Turn right and go downhill to rejoin the lane on the left which takes you back to the Sussex Border Path along the northern perimeter of Weir Wood Reservoir. Follow the Sussex Border Path past two memorial benches until you reach the metal gate in the corner of the field where you joined the path originally. Cross the stile and head up the hill following the High Weald Landscape Trail, under the power lines, keeping the hedgerow and fence to your right. Go through the metal gate at the top of the field through the bracken, continuing to keep the fence and hedgerow on your right. At the fingerpost, continue uphill and follow the sunken path along the edge of the wood.
Standen Rocks, once used by the Beale children and grandchildren from Standen for picnic teas, on the left, are moss-covered sandstone outcrops close to the path. If there's time, make a detour to explore them and the wonderful views they offer across the reservoir. In the Beales' day, the view would have been very different, as the reservoir, fed by the River Medway, was not built until 1952. Back on the path, alongside the hedgerow there is an interpretation board on Standen Rocks.
After emerging from the wood, there is a gate on your right you can use this to retrace your path to Standen Goose Green and the house, or continue up the hill, following the right-hand edge of the field, to the top corner. (12) Go through the metal gate at the top of the field, and follow the path right between the woodland and barbed-wire fence until you reach the main drive to Standen. At the drive turn right, past Standen Cottages and continue to the main entrance to Standen and the car park.
Saint Hill Manor
Across the valley left is Saint Hill Manor. The name is a corruption of Sand Hill, first noted in the 13th century. It is thought to have been part of Lewes Priory’s manor of Imberhorne since the 12th century. The house we see now was built in 1792 and altered in 1890. One of its distinguished owners had a Standen connection, Edgar March Crookshank. He founded, amongst many other achievements, the first bacteriological laboratory in England. In 1912 his daughter Margaret Crookshank married Sydney Beale, the Beales' second son.
Standen car park, grid ref: TQ391356
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