|Latest Status||03 April 2016 – wood chippings make part of path by stream much drier|
|WARNING||Short road section near end on narrow road with bends and no pavement|
|A hilly walk taking advantage of a lovely permissive footpath|
|Length||13km (8.5 miles)|
|Terrain||Less than a mile on roads with the rest on footpaths including one new permissive path|
|Difficulty||Moderate – 3 fairly long uphill sections|
|Time||150 – 250 minutes|
|Suitability||Walkers, runners and joggers|
|Points of interest||Wadhurst Deer Park, site of Hawksden Furnace|
|Start||South Street car park, Mayfield (TN20 6DF) ; grid reference TQ586268 ; GPS co-ordinates 51° 1’11.14″N, 0°15’42.34″E|
|Public transport||Bus route 51/251/252 between Tunbridge Wells and Heathfield/Eastbourne stops in Mayfield High Street, from where you can walk west (away from Tunbridge Wells) for 100 yards then left down the narrow passageway (Star Lane) and left at the bottom to reach the start at the car park. There is also a community bus to & from Wadhurst twice a day. For detailed bus timetables go to the Mayfield and Five Ashes <a href=”http://www.mayfieldfiveashes.org.uk/Village/v_bustimetable.html”>website</a>|
|Parking||Car park for 50 cars in South Street, which can be full at peak times.|
View Loop via Batts Wood Combe Wood and Rolfs Ghyll in a larger map
Leave car park by the steps and turn right into South Street. Keep straight on as the road becomes The Avenue and in 150 yards come to the junction with Fletching Street with the old Carpenters Arms pub opposite which is now sadly being turned into a set of cottages. Turn right down the hill to the green triangle where you bear right onto East Street.
Continue down East Street for 200 yards to Southmead Close on your left. Turn up Southmead Close to footpath between nos 18 and 20, and after 30 yards turn right behind houses, down narrow path between trees and fences, then cross meadow to gap by side of old stile. Cross sunken cart track to stile. Ignore footpath to left and 2nd stile to right, proceed straight on down meadow with hedge on right to Hole Wood at bottom of field. Enter wood, with uneven winding path continuing downhill for 100 yards, keeping close to edge of wood on right. At a 4 way fingerpost turn right and follow level path, which is often wet and muddy, for over 100 yards to stile. Over stile into field and bear left, keeping the hedge on your left and then cutting across slightly towards a large oak tree. Pass between the oak tree on left and bushes on right and descend to a stile. Over the stile into a small field and down to gate. Through gate and turn right on farm road for 20 yards.
Turn left on road leading to Merrieweathers and Mill House. Note avenue of Spanish Chestnut trees. At main gate of Merrieweathers turn right for 30 yards to meet bridleway. Turn left slightly downhill with chicken farm on right and trees on both sides, for just over 100 yards to a junction of bridleways. Take the right fork and continue along bridleway constructed of concrete railway sleepers with meadows and brook on left, and trees on right. Proceed uphill with high banks on both sides, and down to junction with tarmac road to Rolf’s Farm.
Turn right up road for about 100 yards then turn left by fingerpost indicating a “LICENSED BRIDLEWAY”. This bridleway continues through Hawksden Park Wood where in spring there are fine displays of bluebells. After 200 yards you pass through an area that has just been coppiced (March 2014). Coppicing has been happening in this area since at least the 15th century when the trees were used to supply the local iron industry with charcoal. Look to your left at the end of the coppiced area and you may be able to make out a sunken square area – the remains of a hunting lodge which was surrounded by a moat.
Soon after at the junction with an unmade road to Hampden Lodge, bear right and continue up the road. In 100 yards, take the left turning onto a bridleway slightly downhill through woods for 200 yards to a tarmac drive leading to Hare Holt. Turn left down drive and come to Hawksden Forge on your right, a half timbered cottage dated 1574. Opposite the cottage turn left over stone bridge, which used to be the site of Hawksden Furnace then immediately right by side of the stream. Ignore footpath up steps on left after 50 yards and rejoin drive which passes between a house and oast at Hare Holt. Keep straight ahead passing garage/sheds on left and then across the top level of a field to gate at far side.
Through gate and along path between lines of trees for 100 yards, through gap in staggered fences then left uphill on large track between trees coming out after 400 yards into large field on your left. At top the track bears left but you keep straight on up path between bushes and fence and over stile into Batts Wood. Continue to map of wood next to signpost then turn left and in 10 yards left again. Follow this path to edge of wood (there was a fallen tree to step over on 26th March 2014) turning right then right again to follow path to descend with edge of wood on your left.
The path turns left then right with a deer fence on your left. In 400 yards you come to a gate into Wadhurst deer park. This was established in 1870 and attracted Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edwards VII) among other visitors. It became as it is today when the estate was purchased by the Rausing family and is now home to five different species of deer, including the endangered Barasingha. Barasingha deer are on the CITES list (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Originally from Northern India and Nepal, at the time they were introduced to Wadhurst Park there were estimated to be fewer than 100 left in the world. The first deer arrived at Wadhurst in 1976.
Follow the path downhill with views of Wadhurst Park Lake on your right and then past a deer feeding area at the edge of woods. At the junction of tracks, turn right and go uphill for 200 yards until the signpost on your left which directs you off the track and downhill to a gate out of the deer park. Now cross two fields with a stile at the end of each one and you come to a short path at the side of a stream. After 50 yards turn left onto a track, go over a bridge and then immediately right onto a footpath. After 50 yards, look for the post with a blue arrow pointing left to show the permissive path.
The path is well marked by blue arrows for just over three-quarters of a mile. It goes up the field then turns right and left following the fence at the edge of the deer park for the next half mile, initially climbing quite steeply then flattening off in a wood and a field beyond. Where the deer fence turns left, the path joins a well defined vehicle track which then descends (and makes four right angle turns) through fields, then with woods on the right.
Note the new hedges which have been planted on the left hand side and the hedge which has been woven at the bottom.
At the bottom you turn right back onto registered footpaths with their yellow direction signs. Pass a pond on your right and then turn immediately left down 20 yards to a meadow next to a stream (the same one you crossed earlier at Hawksden Furnace). This area can often be very wet after rain but the first part of the path has now been laid with wood chippings. Turn right along path and at the end of the field, go through the pedestrian gate to the right of the large gate, cross the private road and pass to the left of the building, past a swing to a stile ahead. Over the stile, the path goes through a field, under some trees and across the rest of the field to another stile.
Just after this stile, you turn right onto a bridleway which climbs, passes a rustic bench on your left and then levels out between hedges – another section that is often muddy. After 400 yards you arrive in a farmyard and turn left onto a road made of concrete slabs. Climb on the road after the farmyard and after 200 yards keep straight on at the junction ignoring the road up to the right. Cross the stile straight ahead (not the stile to your left) and go across the field keeping the hedge to your right. At the end, descend to a bridge made of concrete slabs then climb up the next field to turn left at the bank ahead of you and walk alongside it. In just over a hundred yards the path bears left to cut off the corner of the field and arrive at a stile at the end of the fence ahead.
Climb over the stile and keep the hedge to your left going along a slightly sunken path to come to a gate. The sunken path continues the other side and in 50 yards arrives at a gate. On the other side a driveway descends left to come out on a road. Turn left, over the bridge and past the Mayfield sign to climb for 150 yards until you come to a unnamed small road on your right. Take this and follow it to end in 200 yards where a stile leads onto a path in woods. Follow this, cross a stream on a plank bridge and carry on slightly downhill for another 50 yards to a junction of paths, above a concrete bridge over a stream.
Turn left uphill and in 50 yards bear left onto a sunken track which continues climbing in the woods and in 100 yards comes to stile. The sunken track is now at the left side of a field and eventually becomes part of the field and leads to a stile in a very muddy corner. The other side the path continues between two lines of trees and climbs steeply through another muddy patch. After the next stile you come out into a field for the final part of the steep climb straight ahead to a fingerpost at the top marking the crossing of two footpaths. Continue straight ahead with the hedge on your left, over another stile, and through another field keeping near the hedge. The stile at the end of this field leads onto an unmade road which you cross and climb the steps opposite to come out in the corner of a football pitch.
Keep to the right side of the field and then continue straight towards the concrete path ahead which climbs to the top of Court Meadow (King George’s Playing Field). Go through the car park to the road and turn left. In 50 yards turn right into Mayfield High Street and then in another 50 yards turn left down Holders Lane to arrive at the bottom at the car park where you started.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]