by Robert Veitch
With summer holidays nearing their end and autumn term fast approaching Robert Veitch and his nephew Joe packed a rucksack and went off to explore the foothills of Wadhurst.
Leaving the car park, walk to the end of Greyhound Lane then cross the road to Blacksmith’s Lane opposite. Between the pretty tile hung homes the newly surfaced road falls away downhill, bordered on either side by neatly trimmed hedges.
After 300m take the entrance to Little Pell Farm that’s straight ahead, where the road turns left. Along the track there are hops, farmhouses and two barns. Keep left of the farthest barn, following the unmade track to the pair of metal gates. Cross the stile by the gate on the left and continue downhill into the glade, passing a pond on the way.
When the unmade track ends, keep going, straight on, into another glade. The path narrows down as it approaches a stile with a dog flap. Beyond the stile, keep to the left, passing a decaying tree trunk on the way to the bottom of the field where a gate and stile co-habit in the corner.
Turn right and join the ‘Bewl Water Route,’ which encapsulates the reservoir. It’s firm underfoot as this is a path well used by walkers and cyclists. The path twists and turns through the trees, gently undulating… A genteel woodland bobsleigh track as Joe and I noted.
Leaving the trees behind the scenery expands into the wonderfully rich vista of Bewl Water… possibly accompanied by the sound of honking geese. The route runs parallel to the waterside for a while, mostly level, following the contour lines through the meadows, flowers and colours of late summer.
It all comes abruptly to an end by two posts and a brown sign marked ‘Bewl Water Route.’ Walk uphill for 100m, before turning 90° left. Will you spot the giant gnarled beech tree engraved with ‘Dave T was here’ at head height, about 100m before the junction with the road?
Turn right at the road, then after 50m turn left at the fingerpost, walking down the concrete drive towards Bryant’s Farm. Turn right at the gate by the ‘Private Property’ sign, down the flight of steps where it says ‘1⁄4 mile to Hook Hill.’
The path turns sharp left and the reservoir can be seen once again, through low-lying branches that caress the rippling surface of the water. “It’s a perfect place for crocodiles to lie in wait, ready to ambush a passer by,” according to Joe.
Alan Hatton’s bench is a nice place to pause for a moment or two and absorb the scenery. Just beyond his bench is an old road (most of which is now submerged). Turn right towards the pair of wooden gates, and walk uphill to the junction.
At the junction, turn right onto the resurfaced Ward’s Lane. It’s just under ¾ mile to the entrance to Chesson’s Farm, and almost 200m after that bear right at the gate marked ‘Lambing Season Notice’ not forgetting to close it behind you.
Keep to the right side of the field, walking downhill between the two large oaks, turning left immediately after and heading into the gulley that leads to a bridge and pair of wooden gates. Beyond the gates, the path follows the curve of the land as it gains altitude gently, levelling off, straightening and then ending at a gate by a telegraph pole.
Turn left onto the drive and after 1⁄3 mile take the steps on the right, down to the iron kissing gate and into the field. After 50m bear left, diagonally downhill across the field towards the distant metal gate. Entering the woods, follow the path around to the left, over the bridge and the iron coloured stream beneath. The route hugs the left side of the field populated with wheat and maize, joining Foxhole Lane at the top. Over the stile on the other side of the road, walk southwest across the field until ‘John Jefferson’s’ stile is encountered.
Beyond this, turn right and head back to Wadhurst for whatever refreshments you think you deserve! As Joe commented, “There’s a lot of scenery and variety in this walk and it’s covered in not too many miles at all.”
Distance: 4½ miles
Walk Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 136
Refreshments: There’s plenty in Wadhurst High Street
Buses: #254 from Hawkhurst to Tunbridge Wells
Parking: Free parking in Greyhound Lane car park