This is the first of a series of articles aimed at leisure cyclists and families looking for enjoyable rides without traffic and few or no hills. In general, too, it will mean the ability to carry cycles by car to the start and, equally inevitably, may mean an out and back route. Still, things always look different going the other way!
The Forest and Worth Ways
These formed part of the railway line from Three Bridges to Groombridge. I have found that a convenient place to start is Forest Row where there is a free car park with safe access to the route from which you can go eastwards to Groombridge along the Forest Way or westwards to East Grinstead and the Worth Way.
Car park at Forest Row. Approaching from the south along A22, turn sharp right at the centre of Forest Row along B2110 to the signposted car park where there are toilets (although I’ve never known them to be open) and several adjacent cafés.
The Forest Way
Forest Row to Groombridge. OS Explorer map 135 Ashdown Forest. Google “Forest Way” to get many useful pages especially from East Sussex CC and GPS Routes.
A lane alongside Forest Row car park runs through a small industrial area to the Forest Way, turn right for Groombridge. The picturesque route runs along the valley of the River Medway sheltered by trees for most of its length through farmland and historic villages. It crosses only three minor roads along its length. It is well signposted and the surface is smooth, fine gravel. Approaching Groombridge, the route leaves the rail track, which is still in use, and has a dedicated path where there is a picnic area with tables. The end is on a minor road near a pumping station; Groombridge village is up the hill to the left about 1 km where there is a bakery and pub. Total length of this section of the Forest Way is 7 miles (11.5 kms) so there is plenty of time for exploring the villages of Hartfield and Balls Green, as well as Forest Row and Groombridge.
The Worth Way
Forest Row to Crawley. OS Explorer map 135 Ashdown Forest and 134 Crawley and Horsham. Google “Worth Way” to get many useful pages especially from West Sussex CC (download excellent pdf) and GPS Routes.
A lane alongside Forest Row car park runs through a small industrial area to the Forest Way, turn left to complete the route to the outskirts of East Grinstead. There is a link signposted through the town to the Worth Way: it is a small town and it is not difficult cycling. Turn left along Lewes Road, High Street, London Road and Station Approach to a large roundabout. Here, carefully follow the signs to the station concourse. You then have to dismount and walk your cycle up a few steps and across a narrow footbridge over the main line to the edge of the station car park and the start of Worth Way. Alternatively, continue on from the roundabout to the right of the station and follow the signs to the station car park.
The Worth Way runs roughly westwards through wooded countryside with some interesting features such as Crawley Down Pond and Rowfant Station. The surface varies but is sound with no mud! It crosses the M23 to Worth where there is a fine Saxon church (“worth” a look!). To cross the M23, the path has deviated south of the rail route. From Worth Church, the route turns north along a road to regain the line of the track. It then follows a gentle curve to Three Bridges railway station. The total length of this section of the Ways is 10½ miles (17 kms).