Old railways, closed and preserved, a bus route that needs preserving, an old canal, pubs, riverside walks, ice cream, boat rides, wild swimming, pastoral countryside. What else do you need?

Distance and Time

6.5 km 4 miles  2-3 hours

Date researched

April 2013


The quiet countryside around Barcombe and Isfield


A number of stiles but no other significant obstacles most of the year. Flat or gently rolling terrain.

Start and finish points

Start in Barcombe village by the bus stop.  Finish at the bus stop in Isfield

Getting there

261 bus from Lewes  to Barcombe, every two hours Monday to Saturday.  Return by 29 bus from Isfield.  Every hour every day. See here for details


Pub and shop at Barcombe (shop up for sale at time of research),  pub and ice cream at the Anchor Inn, around half way.  Pub, Post office and country shop, in Isfield Café in Isfield railway station.

Public toilets

Barcombe recreation ground, to the north west of the village

Route instructions

This walk starts with a ride on the 261 bus to Barcombe Village.  You can pick up the bus at Lewes bus station, Lewes High Street, Western Road and outside Neville Green.  It also passes Cooksbridge Station but the connections are not good.  The 261 is a vital service for many people on its route but will not last much longer if not used.  Please support it.

The bus crosses a bridge and then stops in the village, just before the pub. Get off here.

(A)Railway enthusiasts may want to walk back to the bridge and look north to the old Barcombe railway station.  There is no other access to the old station.  This is the Bluebell Line, which once ran from Lewes to East Grinstead.  Much of it has been preserved, but there is very little likelihood of this section opening again.

To begin the walk, walk forward to the pub and turn right down a lane to the left hand side.

(B)Or you may want to begin with a drink or a snack. The Royal Oak is a welcoming local village pub of the type that is fast dying out elsewhere.

The lane crosses another lane.  After this look for a footpath on your right, running between back gardens.  Go straight down this, ignoring paths which go off it.  The path emerges into a field.  Go down the right hand field edge.

(1). The field edge starts to curve left.  Leave the field here to enter an uncultivated area, by a footpath sign.  Immediately the park forks.  Take the left fork and follow the path along and then down to the woods.

(C) These woods are on the track of the old Bluebell Railway.

Emerge from the woods into a field.  Turn left.  Walk slightly away from the field edge towards an opening.  In the next field continue in the same direction to meet a stile and then a tarmac lane.

Turn right on this and walk down a slight hill. Cross the railway line and a stream. Find a path on your right. Follow this due east across a field to reach a world war 2 pill box.  You will see a number of these on the walk.  Pass the box and emerge on a road.  Turn right. Walk down the hill

(D) The buildings on your right were once a pub and Barcombe Mills railway station.  You can see the old railway track to your left.  This is part of the Lewes to Uckfield Railway which was only closed so that East Sussex Council could build the Phoenix Causeway, a piece of road in Lewes which bypassed Cliffe High Street.  The line was busy up to closure, with people travelling from Uckfield and points north to Brighton.  There is an active campaign to reopen it.

Deep railway enthusiasts may want to walk up the old railway line to the left and rejoin the main walk at the Anchor Inn, but this would involve missing one of the best bits of the walk.

For the main walk cross the road and take a path which bears left, quickly joining a lane.  Keep straight ahead until you reach the gates of Barcombe House. Turn right here.

(E)You are now at Barcombe Mills, the end of the tidal stretch of the River Ouse. This is a popular walking area, but it often floods in winter. You are also on the Ouse Valley Way which you follow for the next part of the walk.

Cross a number of bridges, noting the toll sign by one of them. At the end of the bridges see a path turning off to your left alongside the river. Take this.

(F)The river Ouse is now a quiet stream here, although it has been known to flood both Uckfield and Lewes, but it was once a main transport route, navigable up to near Balcombe.  Like many river navigations, it was a victim of the coming of the railways.  The Sussex Ouse Trust is dedicated to promoting and preserving the history of the river and promoting its future use.

Landowners alongside the Ouse are getting fed up with people leaving the debris of picnics and other stuff in their fields.  Please make sure that you leave nothing lying about.

Navigation now becomes very simple.  You follow an obvious path along the river bank. You come to an open field.  The right of way runs by the side of the river here.

Come to a bridge and cross it.  Turn right, keeping some farm buildings on your right. Come to a footpath sign and then a junction.  Turn right along a narrow path which then opens out to run alongside the river to the car park of the Anchor Inn.

(G) The pub hires out boats and there is an ice cream stall to the right by the boathouse.

Cross the bridge over the Ouse and then turn left. Continue to walk north alongside the river.  Pass under the bridge that carries the old railway track over the river. Continue north by the river for about a kilometre until you come to another bridge, White Bridge.

This stretch of the river between the two bridges is recommended for wild swimming.  Watch out for the boaters though!

Do not cross White Bridge but instead turn right along a track.  Follow the track until it joins a road.  Bear right here and walk into Isfield village.

(H) On your left you will see the noted Laughing Fish Pub and, next to it the Lavender Line steam railway Unfortunately, the line is usually only open on Sundays and bank holidays, when the 125 bus does not run, but the station is open on Saturdays  For a walk that combines a ramble with a trip on the railway see here.

The bus stop is just across the level crossing.  The stop for Brighton and Lewes is on the opposite side of the road.  The stop for Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells is to the left.