MARVELS in Sussex
There is always something interesting on tv if you select the right type of
show to watch. I had been following the Great Railway Journies by Michael
Portillo, on a train ride from London to Brighton and to
my supprise found out that there is a massive via duct on this route.
It's known as the Balcombe via duct, set in the countryside just above Haywards
Heath and very close to Borde Hill gardens of National Trust fame. If you
study the map, the easiest place to stop for a close view is more or less
where the stream crosses the minor white road. There is a layby of sorts you
can park alongside the road and for those of us that have a need to, "hug,"
a fantastic structure like this one, there is a public footpath taking you
right, "underneath the arches". Having seen the Ribble Head rail
crossing in Yorkshire, twice now with Paul and Angie, I was quite supprised
to find we have our own impressive piece of engineering structure in the south.
I am told there are some 30 or so arches, it was built in 1840 ish and used
some 11 million bricks, was refurbished in the 1960 s and is two tracks wide.
Whilst I was there for about 40 minutes, trains passed in either direction
quite frequently. A busy line. So, the "buzz" to get there. My brother
Tim accompanied me on this ride from Portsmouth, heading east on the A27 to
join the A259, just two junctions past the A3 M turn off.
We found the B2147 - B2146 north to South Harting, a great start, turned right
and followed the B2141 south east to Mid Lavant, left and north on the A286
for 3 miles, turn right onto a minor road for the Trundle, pass Goodwood horse
races and turn left and ride east under East Dean, (look right to see Bognor).
Then turn left and north on the A285 and stop at the top of Duncton Hill overlooking
the Cowdry estate and much of the rolling south. Continue on the A285 to Petworth
and wriggle round this lovely old antiques town, now following the A272 all
the way to Cuckfield after crossing the A23. Use the B2036 for about a mile
north, then turn right for Borde Hill, through Whitemans Green, under a rail
arch, then look to your left for the via-duct and park on the right.
A public footpath allows you to get under the structure. The photos do the
rest. From here we rode back to the B2036 and crossed over to the B2114-B2115
turning left onto the B2110 then right onto the A281.
We followed the A281 to Bucks Green and stopped to eat and refuel the two
bikes. About 5 miles on we turned left onto the B2130 passing Loxhill to Godalming,
a charming road with lovely properties. At Godalming we turned left, south
west and found the slip road to join the A3 to Portsmouth, thus experiencing
the new Hindhead road tunnel at the Devil`s Punch Bowl.
This tunnel is about 1.25 miles long and is a long continuous curve, took
four years to complete, arrived ahead of schedule, costing around £374
million and is toll free. Dug from each end to meet in the middle within 30mm.
Amazing ! The old A3 road on the surface will disappear soon making way for
quiet paths and cycle tracks, returning the bowl to it`s natural state. About
time too. I understand the bowl was formed not by a meteorite or another violent
force but by gentle errosion over millions of years by a stream !
through the tunnel we got off the A3 at Liphook and joined the B2070, which
by chance is the old A3 just as it was, before the dual carraige way version
was built, but notch more quiet. Arriving in Petersfield we quickly found
the the B2146 to South Harting and continued to Emsworth via the B2147, turning
right onto the A259, heading west to the A27, back to Portsmouth for the evening
A great day out with weather to match, structures old, structures new, old
roads and new roads, but best of all, the bike riding experience. Stay safe.