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Visit Ouse Valley Viaduct in West Sussex: A Practical Guide

Visit Ouse Valley Viaduct in West Sussex: A Practical Guide

Ouse Valley Viaduct near the village of Balcombe in West Sussex is one place you must see to believe.

I had heard of its existence through a friend and decided to visit to check out this amazing structure, completed in 1842 to carry the London to Brighton railway line over the River Ouse (pronounced “ooze”).

I secretly wondered why I hadn’t made an effort to visit Ouse Valley viaduct before if it was so spectacular. After all, I only live a car ride so it’s a viaduct near me.

It’s not often that you get to see a viaduct, and after learning that this one had earned the title of “the most elegant viaduct in England,” I felt compelled to check it out for myself.

As it turns out, I was seriously blown away when I saw this masterpiece of Victorian architecture.

When you have read the facts about its construction and seen the Ouse Valley Viaduct photos, you will agree it is well worth visiting.

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Need to Know Information about the Ouse Valley Viaduct

Address: Borde Hill Ln, Haywards Heath RH17 6QR

  • The viaduct is difficult to reach without a car.
  • Be mindful that the road by the viaduct can get busy in peak seasons. I would say come early or late in the day to get an Ouse Valley viaduct parking spot and see the structure without the crowds.
  • Be considerate of the homeowners living nearby. Do not block their drives.
  • An alternative way to visit the viaduct is to walk to it. There are several walks around Ouse Valley Viaduct; a 14km walk starts in Balcombe by the train station, but the most popular one is the Ouse Valley Viaduct walk from Ardingly Reservoir. Leave your car in the large car park and walk through the Sussex countryside to the viaduct. It will take 30 minutes, and the walk is easy.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, as the ground can be muddy after rainfall.
  • Keep to the designated footpaths around the viaduct. Some areas are privately owned, and crops are grown in the fields.

Interesting facts about the Ouse Valley Viaduct

Eleven million bricks went into the construction of the Ouse Valley Railway viaduct.

The bricks were shipped from the Netherlands via Lewes and Newhaven and then boated up the River Ouse to this point.

Building costs were £38,500 – equivalent to approximately £3.5 million in 2020.

The length of the viaduct is 450m, and its height is 29m.

It has 37 semi-circle arches, each one measuring 9m high.

It has eight piers, four at each end, serving no purpose other than decorative.

If you are wondering is the Ouse Valley viaduct still in use, the answer is yes! Over 100 trains run daily on the London Brighton main line across the viaduct.

In May 1983, the viaduct was listed as a Grade II structure.

Between 1996-1999 extensive repairs were made to the viaduct at the cost of £6.5 million.

It is a unique spot for photographers due to the hypnotic symmetry of its arches.

Viaduct Arches
River Ouse beneath the Viaduct

I think you will agree that the viaduct is pretty spectacular. It is a top photo spot in West Sussex, and once you have taken lots of arty photographs, there are more great places to see near the Ouse Valley Viaduct.

Places of Interest to Visit in the Area

Borde Hill Gardens – beautiful historical gardens located just along the road from the viaduct.

Wakehurst Place – 500 Acres of gardens with a Millenium Seed Bank.

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens – seven lakes and a colony of free-roaming wallabies!

If you are looking for somewhere to eat nearby, the Gardeners Arms in Ardingly has great reviews.

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