The Wheatsheaf – Winkhurst Green – Bore Place – The Wheatsheaf
Distance: about 5¾ miles // Walking time: 2-2½ hours
Beginning at The Wheatsheaf [A] cross the road bridge over the railway line, and keep ahead when the road forks. After about 450yds, and just short of a multi-gabled house, cross a stile on the left and walk along the left-hand boundary of a field. Before long cut into the left-hand field by way of a plank footbridge, then maintain direction alongside the ditch you’ve just crossed. When the field boundary ends, walk along the right-hand edge of Villa Wood.
On coming to the field corner, keep ahead through a woodland shaw and along the left headland of the next field. At the next boundary corner a stile leads into a coppiced woodland where a path meanders through, crosses a stream and curves to the right. On emerging from the woodland, turn left along the edge of a gently sloping meadow, across which can be seen Furnace House Farm.
At the top of the meadow come onto a farm drive and turn right. When it curves to the right, leave the drive and maintain direction along the edge of two fields linked by stiles. At the top corner of the second field [B], turn right, with a woodland shaw on your left that soon becomes part of the more extensive Chittenden Wood. Pass through a metal field gate and keep ahead.
When you reach the end of the wood, cross a stile in the top left-hand corner of the field to gain access to a clump of trees, where you then cross a footbridge over a little brook. Ahead can be seen the buildings of Hilders Farm. Aim half-left across the meadow to a stile in the far hedgerow. Over this turn right. Eventually come to a gap where three field boundaries come together. Pass through the gap in the hedge ahead, resume direction, and shortly come onto a country road opposite a house called Lakefields. Bough Beech Reservoir can be seen nearby.
Turn right in front of the house, and at the end of its garden take an enclosed footpath to the left, which brings you to within a few yards of the reservoir before entering a large field. Follow a row of power lines stretching across the field, but when you reach the corner of Deans Wood, veer half-right to a kissing gate in the opposite boundary hedge. The path now takes you alongside a small reservoir bay where trees stand partly submerged by the water.
The way continues beside woodland which forms part of a nature reserve, then through a kissing gate to cross a narrow field to a second kissing gate. Maintain direction through linking fields to arrive at the oasthouse of Bough Beech Visitor Centre at Winkhurst Green [C]. (Light refreshments are available when the Centre is open. Managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust, there are natural history displays inside, and a small but interesting museum devoted to the hop industry upstairs.)
Walk up the driveway to a narrow road, turn left for about 200yds, then enter a field on the right by a gate. Walk along the right-hand boundary with views of the Greensand Ridge to your left. In the bottom corner cross a stream, enter a second field and continue round its right-hand boundary, soon gaining a view of Bough Beech Reservoir.
Towards the end of the field, the line of the footpath angles half-left to cut the final corner, aiming towards a gap on the edge of woodland. Through the gap bear slightly right along a track. Easing gently downhill it kinks to the right and eventually brings you to the complex of buildings of Bore Place [D]. (The Tudor Manor is part of a 500 acre organic dairy farm at the heart of an environmental project founded in 1977 as the Commonwork Trust.)
Walk through the farmyard, twisting left at the far end to come onto the driveway, which you then follow to the right. This long drive eventually arrives at a crossing lane between an old forge on the left and a house on the right. Turn right along the hedge-lined lane for about 700yds, where you reach a tile-hung house named Hickens. A few paces beyond this, cross a stile on the right and aim slightly left ahead over a field towards woodland. Descend onto a road coming from Winkhurst Green, turn right, and almost immediately go through a woodland shaw on the left, then aim towards the far left-hand corner of a meadow (sometimes divided into paddocks).
The way now goes through another woodland shaw. Out of this walk ahead across a field to a driveway used by the Bough Beech Sailing Club [E]. Over the drive maintain direction through yet another woodland shaw with a pond on your left. Now cross a meadow half-right towards the dam embankment which obscures the actual reservoir from view. An enclosed footpath then steers the way below the embankment.
At the end of the enclosed section, a stile takes you through bushes and out into a meadow where you aim half-right once more to find a footbridge on the far side, then maintain direction across a final meadow. There you come onto another enclosed path, this one directing you across the Edenbridge-Tonbridge railway line. Caution! Up the bank on the far side emerge beside the B2027 in Bough Beech. Turn right, and in a few paces you’ll be back where you started, at The Wheatsheaf to enjoy a well-earned drink!