Hawksden Park Wood and Witherenden Road loop


Through woods on bridleway and back on narrow twisting road
LATEST STATUS: nothing to report

Length: 4.5 miles
Terrain: half on road and half on bridleway
Difficulty: easy
Hazards: Witherenden Road is narrow and winding with a 60mph speed limit, although it does not carry much traffic.
Time: 60-100 minutes
Suitable for: horse-riders, walkers, walkers with dogs, off-road cyclists, runners & joggers
Points of interest: Merrieweathers, Mill House, Hawksden Forge & Hareholt Farm

Starting point:  where the 30 mph speed limit ends and the road starts to descend at the end of East Street, between Five Gables and Stonycroft. Post code TN20 6RJ ; grid reference TQ602268 ; GPS co-ordinates 51° 1’08.11″N, 0°16’52.05″E
Public transport: The nearest public transport is to Mayfield High Street, one mile from the start.  See Mayfield public transport page for details.  From the High Street go east (in the direction of Tunbridge Wells then down Fletching Street and along East Street to the start
Parking: Car parking in East Street on the verge 100 yards or so before the start.

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On the left hand side of the road, take the right hand of the two paths which goes initially towards Stoneycroft but then quickly turns left and descends gently.  After 300 yards and just before a gate into a house, take the path on your left which descends more steeply and follow it down for  600 yards, passing Merrieweathers and Mill House on your left and a chicken farm on right to a junction of bridleways. Take 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 the trees were coppiced in the 15th century to supply the local iron industry with charcoal. In spring there are fine displays of bluebells.

After about 300 yards at the junction with an unmade road to Hampden Lodge, bear right and continue up road. In 100 yards, take first left on bridleway downhill through wood and then winding through a coppiced area to a tarmac drive leading to Hareholt Farm. Turn left down drive to Hawksden Forge, a half timbered cottage dated 1574. Opposite the cottage turn left over stone bridge, then immediately right to come back to the drive to Hare Holt. Pass between the house and the oast and then take the path with the garage on your left and follow the high part of the field ahead to a gate at the end. Through the gate and onto a path with trees on both sides. After 100 yards, go through a staggered gap in railings and onto a farm track ahead which in under 400 yards brings you to the Witherenden Road.

Turn right onto the road and follow it for almost two miles, up hill and then flat with Hawksden Park Woods on your right. Eventually you come to the junction with Scotsford Hill where you turn right downhill and after 400 yards come back to the start.

NOTE: there are alternative permissive bridleways in Hawksden Park Wood to vary or add to the route. For details and permission to use them, contact Deb Findlater.