The Ouse Valley Viaduct walk from Ardingly Reservoir nr Balcombe in West Sussex is popular because parking near the viaduct is so problematic.
Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of visitors wanting to get a photo of the incredible arches for which this iconic Victorian architectural masterpiece is famous.
For this reason, parking near it can be a nightmare, so the best way to see the viaduct is by leaving the car at Ardingly Reservoir and walking through the beautiful Sussex countryside to the Ouse Valley Viaduct.
In this guide, I detail the Ouse Valley Viaduct Walk route with directions and images to ensure you stay on the right trail.
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Ouse Valley Viaduct Walk from Ardingly Reservoir
From the village of Ardingly, turn onto College Road. Just south of the main Ardingly
College buildings turn right – signposted ‘Reservoir’. Follow the road to the reservoir and the car park will be on your right-hand side.
Car Park Postcode: RH17 6SQ – the car park will be closed until 9th July 2023 for repairs.
The car park is open from 1st October to 31st March, 9.00 am till 4.00 pm, and from 31st March to 30th September, 9.00 am till 5.30 pm.
You will drive to the reservoir down country lanes, don’t think you are lost; you are on the right road.
Things to do in Ardingly Reservoir
The Ardingly Reservoir is a nice place to explore before you visit the Ouse Valley Viaduct and has several walks you could do.
The Ardingly Reservoir Walk is one of those and is wheelchair and pushchair-friendly.
Ardingly Activity Centre is the main attraction at the reservoir and offers watersports, including kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. Before heading to the Ouse Valley viaduct, you could easily spend time trying an activity on the water.
Facilities at the reservoir include picnic tables, toilets and a small kiosk serving drinks and snacks.
Start your walk at the Ardingly Reservoir car park
Close to the entrance gates of the reservoir, you will see a sloping hill on the right-hand side (the car park will be on your left).
The Ouse Valley Viaduct walk isn’t signposted, but you will undoubtedly see hikers and dog walkers heading in the direction you want.
You will come to this stile (with an ominous sign on it), which you need to go through. I’ve been on this walk twice and haven’t seen a bull either time, but that’s not to say he’s not lurking somewhere in the field. Stick to the well-walked path leading along the side of the field to be on the safe side!
Follow the path until you come to a small gap in the hedge. Once again, this area is well-trodden and easily identifiable.
Get your first look at the viaduct from this viewpoint
Pass through the hole in the hedge, and you will be in another field with great views of the railway bridge and iconic arches looming in the distance. It holds the title of the most beautiful viaduct in England; I wonder whether you will agree?
If you have been to Knaresborough in Yorkshire, you may think it looks similar to the viaduct there.
Walk down the hill keeping to the left-hand side of the hedgerow (remember there is a bull that calls these fields his home)!
At the bottom of the field, you will come to a wooden bridge crossing the River Ouse, which takes you into another field.
It looks like you aren’t meant to cross it, as it has wooden bars across it, but you can. You need to climb over the wooden bars (they are low) to stay on the walking route.
Once across, proceed through this field, and you will come to another smaller wooden bridge.
After crossing it check for the wooden signpost on the right-hand side of the bridge to check you haven’t strayed away from the Ouse Valley Viaduct walk.
Arriving at the viaduct
Follow the public footpath marker, which takes you along a gravel track which converges into another field.
You will now see the colossal Victorian viaduct in the distance. Head towards it with the river on your right-hand side.
At the end of the field, walk through the metal turnstile, and you will be on Borde Hill Road with the Ouse Valley Viaduct opposite you. Cross over, carefully checking for fast cars coming along the road.
Take some iconic Ouse Valley Viaduct photos and explore the site for a while. When you have seen what you need to, reverse your walk to take you back to Ardingly Reservoir.
I hope you have found this post informative and that it will inspire you to visit Ouse Valley Viaduct.
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