“Probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain”
One of the few plus sides of not travelling during these times, is discovering gems that are on your own doorstep – and in my case, a casual comment from Mrs E lead me to taking the short drive from our home to the amazing Balcombe Ouse Valley Viaduct.
The viaduct serves as part of the London – Brighton railway line and is located between the stations of Balcombe and Haywards Heath; it was designed by John Urpeth Rastrick, a civil engineer who is recognised as being one of the first English steam locomotive builders. This Grade II listed structure came in to service in 1841, and is 450 m in length; at its highest point, it reaches up 29.3 m as it crosses the River Ouse. 37 semi circular arches support the rail line, built from some 11 million bricks sourced mainly from The Netherlands. TransportHeritage.com has described the structure as ‘probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain’.
The structure makes for some unique photo opportunities, and it was a real pleasure to spend time exploring the area; the July weather wasn’t as kind as might be expected, but occasional hints of blue sky breaking through the greyness made it to a few shots.
There are 2 aspects that grab the attention of the camera; firstly the landscape – the pure expanse of the structure, a perfect subject for those wide angle shots; I’m glad I had my Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens in my bag! But then as you come up close, switch to a lens with a higher focal length to capture the stunning views as you look through the arches; these reminded me of those kaleidoscope toys that were popular during my childhood days.
Climbing on to the base of the arches was a popular pastime for the few visitors that I encountered, it seemed an ideal place to relax, and was the perfect spot for great selfies!
Each end of the viaduct features 4 pavilions; something to watch out for if you’re ever travelling on this track.
If you’re planning to visit the viaduct, access is possible by either parking on the grass verges on nearby Borde Hill Lane, which runs between Balcombe and Haywards Heath (see google maps), or as an alternative, enjoy the Balcombe Ouse Valley Viaduct walk – a two mile circular ramble which starts at the car park at the southern end of the Ardingly Reservoir – further details can be found here.