Main Walk, via Speldhurst: 21 km (13.0 miles). Five hours 15 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 10 hours.
Shorter Walk, omitting Burrswood: 18¼ km (11.3 miles). Four hours 30 minutes walking time.
Circular Walk, returning to Ashurst: 16 km (9.9 miles). Four hours walking time.
Alternative Walk, via Langton Green: 13 km (8.0 miles). Three hours 10 minutes walking time.
Explorers 135 & 147. Ashurst station, map reference TQ507388, is on the East Sussex/Kent border, between East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells.
5 out of 10 (4 for the Circular Walk, 3 for the Alternative Walk).
From a remote station this walk climbs up the low hills between the River Medway and Tunbridge Wells, soon with some attractive views across a steep-sided open hillside reminiscent of wilder parts of Britain. A gently undulating route along field edges, country lanes and wooded valleys takes you to the village of Speldhurst, where the parish church of St Mary the Virgin contains a set of notable pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows.
After a lunch stop in the village's 16thC inn the walk loops back towards the Burrswood estate, situated in a wooded valley passed near the beginning of the walk. Its 19thC manor house is now a small NHS hospital, with walkers being encouraged to use the permissive paths through its grounds (and visit its tearoom). Its long driveway leads to the hamlet of Old Groombridge and the remainder of the walk is the same as the shorter ending to Extra Walk 120 (Eridge Circular). This goes past Groombridge Place, a beautiful Jacobean manor house surrounded by a medieval moat, then follows the course of the heritage Spa Valley Railway's extension from Groombridge to Eridge. Along the way you can often see climbers practising their skills on an impressive outcrop of Ardingly sandstone, Harrison's Rocks.
A relatively high proportion of this walk is on quiet country lanes, but the soils in the High Weald do not drain well and some stretches can be very muddy after wet weather.
The first version of this walk started from Cowden (the station before Ashurst) and went via Fordcombe, Burrswood and Groombridge to Eridge. However, the intended lunch pub in Fordcombe proved unreliable and the alternative pubs came too late in the walk. Starting from Ashurst and taking a new route via Speldhurst should be less problematic.
The longer start from Cowden has been dropped but could be reinstated if necessary.
For a Shorter Walk (saving 2¾ km) you could take a direct route into Old Groombridge, omitting the mid-afternoon loop through the Burrswood estate. Alternatively, you could head back to Ashurst station from Burrswood, completing a Circular Walk. Directions are also included for a short Alternative Walk past Ashurst Park, omitting the loop via Fordcombe and Speldhurst (but with an awkward 200m stretch along a busy main road with no pavement); its lunchtime stop is in Langton Green, on the fringes of Tunbridge Wells.
On all the walk options which end in Eridge you could substitute the main ending of Extra Walk 120, through Broadwater Warren and past Eridge Rocks (about 3 km longer).
You would need to print those directions from the other walk document.
Ashurst and Eridge are adjacent stations on the Oxted–Uckfield line, which has an hourly service. A direct train from London Bridge to Ashurst takes 50 minutes. On Sundays you need to change at East Croydon and/or Oxted, with a longer journey time. Buy a day return to Eridge, or Ashurst (Kent) for the Circular Walk.
There are several useful bus routes in the area, all of which go to Tunbridge Wells. If you want to abandon the walk at lunchtime Nu-Venture 282/285 runs every two hours (Mon–Sat) from Speldhurst and Langton Green. Metrobus has two local services: the 231 runs every two hours or so (Mon–Sat) through Fordcombe and Langton Green, also going to Penshurst and Edenbridge stations; the 291 runs hourly (Mon–Sat) and every two hours (Sun & BH) through Groombridge and Langton Green, also going to East Grinstead and Crawley.
On days when the Spa Valley Railway (SVR) is operating you could also catch a steam train from Groombridge station, cutting out the last leg of the walk into Eridge (or travel in the other direction to Tunbridge Wells).
If driving, Ashurst station has a small free car park. The station car park at Eridge costs £2 at weekends (2016).
Take the train nearest to 10:00 from London Bridge to Ashurst. For the Alternative Walk you could choose to start an hour later.
On the main walk options an early lunch is possible at the Chafford Arms (01892-731731) in Fordcombe, but this village pub is fairly small and unsuitable for large groups. The suggested lunch stop, therefore, is the highly-rated George & Dragon (01892-863125) in Speldhurst, after 7¼ km. This deservedly popular inn serves excellent home-cooked food, much of it locally sourced, to 2.30pm (4pm Sundays).
About an hour further on a short detour would take you to the Hare (01892-862419) in Langton Green, which serves a wide variety of food all day. This is the suggested lunch stop on the Alternative Walk, after 5¼ km. On some of the walk options the pubs listed below might also be suitable for a late lunch as they generally serve food all afternoon at weekends.
On the Main Walk you could break for mid-afternoon refreshment at the Burrswood Tea Room (01892-865991), which is open daily to 4.30pm (5.30pm summer Sundays). As there is nothing near Ashurst station, this is the suggested tea place on the Circular Walk. Allow at least half an hour to reach Ashurst station, just over 2 km away.
There are several more tea options on the walk options which finish in Eridge. You pass two pubs as you go through Groombridge: the Crown Inn (01892-864742) at the top of the small village green and the Junction Inn (01892-864275) in the main part of the village (the latter used to have a separate tearoom but this has now closed). When the SVR is operating you could also nip into the nearby station, where there is a buffet on the platform.
At the end of these walk options the Huntsman pub (01892-864258) is ideally placed, a stone's throw from Eridge station. It is closed on Mondays but open all day for the rest of the week.
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Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Walk Options ( Main )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk, via Speldhurst (21 km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- Ashurst Station to Stone Cross (2½ km)
- Stone Cross to Old House Lane (2¼ km)
- Detour to the Chafford Arms (+250m)
- Old House Lane to Speldhurst (2½ km)
- Speldhurst to Leggs Lane (3 km)
- Leggs Lane to Top Hill (1¾ km)
- Main route
- Detour via Langton Green (+800m)
- Top Hill to the Burrswood Estate (1½ km)
- Burrswood to Old Groombridge (2¼ km)
- Burrswood to Ashurst Station (2½ km)
- Stone Cross to Langton Green (2¾ km)
- Langton Green to Top Hill (1½ km)
- Top Hill to Old Groombridge direct (1 km)
- Old Groombridge to Aytton's Wood (2 km)
- Detour to Groombridge Station (+250m)
- Aytton's Wood to Forge Farm Oast (1½ km)
- Forge Farm Oast to Eridge Station (1¾ km)
- Detour to The Huntsman (+200m)
Turn right out of the station onto the Sussex Border Path (SBP), which turns left at Jessup's Farm to climb up the side of the valley. Leave the SBP to continue on a footpath heading south-east, still climbing. At the top turn right and follow the path round a series of left turns to head north-east along the top of a picturesque valley, joining the Wealdway (WW). Follow this to the A264 at Stone Cross.
The first 600m of this walk is the same as Extra Walks 29 & 110.
From the station's small car park do not take the obvious way out to the A264, but take the private road in the opposite direction, heading S and joining the Sussex Border Path1 (SBP). This lane winds uphill and curves to the right where a footpath joins from the left. After 200m along a level stretch, turn left to go up a grassy track between hedges.
At the top turn right briefly onto a track, then in 40m turn left through a wooden fieldgate into the bottom corner of a large field, leaving the SBP. Continue up its left-hand edge, climbing steadily for 300m with increasingly fine views across the Medway valley. At the top ignore a gap in the hedge ahead and turn right to go around the field edge, with the hedge on your left. Follow it round to the left, then go through a new metal fieldgate (replacing a dilapidated stile on its left) to continue along the top of another field.
In 150m, just before the next corner, go over a stile on the left into the top of a steep-sided valley, joining the Wealdway2 (WW). Follow a grassy path near the top of this picturesque valley, with Burrs Wood off to the right. In 400m go through a metal kissing gate to the left of a wooden fieldgate to continue along a narrow field.
At the far end go through another metal kissing gate onto a short path through some trees and continue on a grassy strip alongside a wooden fence. Where the way ahead is blocked by trees veer right as indicated onto a narrow path beside a brick wall. Follow this out through another gate to emerge onto the A264 at a bend.
If you are doing the Alternative Walk (via Langton Green), go to §9.
Keep ahead briefly on the A264 and turn right into Broad Lane. Take the footpath on the right past Stone Cross Farm and along field edges to the village of Fordcombe. Go across the B2188 and continue along Fordcombe Lane. In 600m take the footpath on the right across a field to Old House Lane at its junction with Leggs Lane.
Keep left for an awkward little stretch alongside the A264, still on the WW (which you will be following all the way to Speldhurst). The walk continues on the minor road off to the right where the A264 turns left, so where you have a clear view cross the main road with great care and turn into Broad Lane. Almost immediately turn right into the driveway to Stone Cross Farm, a public footpath. Follow this round to the left and onto a farm track, then in 25m go over a stile on the left to continue in the same direction along the edge of a field.
Go along the right-hand edge of three large fields for 1 km. The path continues with a hedge separating you from a fourth field and comes out in the corner of a village green. Make your way around the cricket pitch to the opposite corner, aiming just to the right of the pavilion, to reach the B2188 near the village sign for Fordcombe3. The walk continues along Fordcombe Lane opposite, but follow the detour below if you want an early lunch stop at the Chafford Arms.
Turn left onto the main road, passing the village school and crossing over at some point; the pub is on the right-hand side of the road opposite the church. Return the same way.
To continue the walk, follow Fordcombe Lane past a long string of cottages. In 600m you pass ‘National Speed Limit’ road signs and 25m later there is a stile in the hedge on your right. You could continue all the way along the lane, but for a brief respite from the tarmac go over the stile into a field and follow a grassy path near its right-hand edge. At the far end pass to the right of a hedge surrounding a house. Go through a small metal gate and over a stile onto a minor road (Old House Lane) at its junction with Leggs Lane.
If you want to cut the walk short by omitting Speldhurst – in effect a slightly longer version of the Alternative Walk – keep ahead on Leggs Lane for about 1 km. Shortly after passing the driveway to Danemore Farm on the left, turn right through a wooden kissing gate onto a signposted footpath and continue the directions at §5.
Turn left and go along Old House Lane for 350m. Opposite Cooper's Lane turn right onto a footpath heading east across fields, then north-east through Avery's Wood. After crossing a stream in this wooded valley turn left at a path junction, joining the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk (TWCW). Turn right briefly onto Bullingstone Lane, then in 100m turn left onto a footpath leading to the village of Speldhurst. Turn right onto Penshurst Road and follow it round a left-hand bend and past the church to the George & Dragon inn.
Turn left onto Old House Lane. In 100m you pass Fordcombe Lane on the left (where you would have come out). In a further 250m, opposite Coopers Lane, turn right onto a signposted footpath. Go over a stile, through a belt of trees and over another stile. Follow a grassy path diagonally across a field, over another stile and keep ahead across a larger field. In the far corner go over another stile into Avery's Wood and follow the path as it heads NE along the top of a wooded valley, gradually descending.
In 100m the woodland path turns right and drops further downhill, then bends left to continue in the same direction as before. In a further 300m a tricky little descent over tree roots takes you down to a footbridge across the stream at the bottom of the valley. On the far side follow the path up and round to the right. At the top of some steps you come to a path junction and turn left, joining the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk4 (TWCW). A short path alongside a wooden fence takes you out to a minor road (Bullingstone Lane).
Turn right to go uphill on the lane for 100m, then turn left onto a signposted footpath. Simply follow this fenced path for 800m through a wooded area, across the middle of a large field and finally between houses to a street (Penshurst Road) in the village of Speldhurst.
Turn right onto the street and follow it round a left-hand bend to a road junction, with the church of St Mary the Virgin5 (which is well worth a visit) on the left. You will be leaving the village along Langton Road to the right, but to visit the suggested lunchtime pub continue down the road ahead for 50m to find the George & Dragon on the right.
Leave the village on Langton Road, opposite the entrance to the churchyard (leaving the WW but staying on a link route for the TWCW). In 175m turn left onto a footpath leading to a wooded valley. After crossing a stream and climbing up the other side leave the TWCW to stay in the wood, either on a footpath near a stream at the bottom or a bridleway along its top edge. Continue on Farnham Lane, then turn right onto a footpath heading west across fields. Turn left briefly onto Speldhurst Road, then in 100m turn right into Leggs Lane. Go along this lane for 300m (rejoining the main part of the TWCW) to the second footpath on the left.
From the pub go back up the hill and turn left into Langton Road, finally leaving the WW but staying on a link route for the TWCW. In 175m turn left into a tarmac driveway leading to a number of houses, which is also a public footpath. In front of the last house follow the path round to the right and back to the left. Go through a squeeze gate onto a narrow path initially between hedges, then downhill into a wood.
Follow the path across a stream on a narrow footbridge and up a slope on the other side, now heading S. At the top the path merges with a bridleway from the left. Stay on the main path as it drops downhill again, leaving the TWCW which branches off to the left. After the path swings round to the right and levels out you come to a fork, where you could take either route (they rejoin in 750m).
The directions are for the right-hand (lower) route through the wood, but if this looks impossibly muddy then fork left and follow the bridleway all the way along the top edge of the wood to a hairpin bend on a minor road (Farnham Lane). Keep right and follow the lane downhill, round a right-hand bend and back uphill. At the top the lane bends left where the lower route rejoins from a field on the right. If you take this alternative route, continue the directions at [•] below.
For the suggested route fork right onto a footpath through the middle of the wood. This runs close to a stream and can be muddy (some sections are on boardwalks). In 450m keep ahead at a path crossing, then shortly afterwards go over a stile to leave the wood. Continue in the same direction along a field edge, over the stream and up a slope in a second field. At the top go over a stile and bear right onto a minor road (Farnham Lane), rejoining the alternative route.
[•] Go along Farnham Lane, keeping ahead at a road junction after 250m. In a further 50m, with footpaths on both sides, go over a stile on the right and down across a small field. At the bottom cross a stream on a footbridge and turn half-left, following a faint grassy path slanting gently uphill. At the top of the slope go past the left-hand end of a line of trees and bear right to continue along the top of the field, with trees on your right and heading W.
In the next corner veer right and left through a gap in the trees to continue in much the same direction (slightly to the right) across another field, towards a wide gap in the belt of trees on the far side. Go through these trees, passing a pond on your left, into a small field with a cottage ahead. Turn half-right to go past the right-hand end of its garden hedge and bear left to go alongside it. A stile in the hedge ahead takes you out onto Speldhurst Road.
Turn left and go along the pavement past the cottage, then turn right at a road junction into Leggs Lane. Go along this lane for 300m, passing footpaths on both sides, then turn left through a wooden kissing gate onto the second footpath on this side of the road.
Follow the footpath across fields and past the grounds of Ashurst Place. Either keep ahead on the TWCW, or detour into Langton Green for a refreshment stop at the Hare, then loop back to the TWCW. Go across the A264 at its junction with the B2188 and continue around (or straight across) a field to Top Hill. Turn right onto a farm track to come to a junction in 30m.
Follow a grassy path across the field, gradually moving away from the left-hand edge. On the far side go through a wooden kissing gate in a belt of trees and continue in the same direction across two more small fields, crossing the driveway to Shirley Hall via more kissing gates in the middle. After passing through another belt of trees go along a broad strip of grass for 300m, with Ashurst Place off to the right and later the grounds of a primary school on the left. At the end go over a stile onto a lane.
If you want a late lunch stop at the Hare, turn left onto this lane and follow the detour in §5b.
Go across the lane (slightly to the right), through an old squeeze gate and along the left-hand edge of a field. In the next corner go over the left-hand of two stiles to continue in the same direction on a short path between fences, then along the left-hand edge of another field. On the far side keep ahead over a pair of stiles, where the longer route rejoins from the fenced path on the left.
Follow the lane past Langton Green Primary School, where it becomes a residential street (Lampington Row) leading out to Speldhurst Road. Cross over this road (which becomes The Green) and continue on the tarmac path opposite. At some point after the start of Langton Green on your right, cross back over the road and continue alongside it to its T-junction with the A264 and the Hare pub.
On leaving the pub turn right to go alongside the A264 for 150m (you can detour through the churchyard of All Saints6 for a brief respite from the traffic). Just past the church, at the end of the pavement, veer right through a wooden kissing gate onto a woodland path. For the shortest route through this narrow wood keep right, at first alongside a wooden fence and then some sandstone rocks. Continue on a potentially muddy fenced path between fields for 125m to a path crossing with stiles on both sides, and go over the stile on the left.
Follow a clear path for 400m, heading SW: along a field edge, through trees on the edge of a copse and finally straight ahead across another field. At the end go out through a metal kissing gate onto the B2188, near its junction with the A264. Cross both roads carefully onto a strip of grass alongside the main road, with a stile in the line of trees ahead.
A direct route would be to go over this stile and straight ahead across a large field (passing an isolated oak tree in the middle), but the route below is only 75m longer and avoids a potentially muddy exit on the far side where the ground gets churned up by livestock.
For the suggested route turn right and go along the crescent-shaped strip of grass, a ‘Roadside Nature Reserve’. At the far end turn left onto a signposted footpath and follow a tree-lined path around the outside of the large field, going through gates as necessary. After coming out near the exit from the field on the direct route, go up to a T-junction with a farm track and turn right onto it. In 30m there is another junction with a track off to the left.
If you are doing the Shorter Walk (omitting Burrswood), go to §11.
Head west on the farm track, leading to Newpark Wood. Follow the public footpath through the wood to its south-western corner. Go straight across Groombridge Road onto a permissive path curving gently left, in 300m coming to the driveway to Burrswood Hospital.
Keep ahead on the farm track, heading W. In 250m ignore gates on both sides leading into fields and stay on the track as it turns half-right. At the end of the track go though a wooden fieldgate into the north-eastern corner of Newpark Wood.
You will be going all the way through this private wood for about 800m to its south-western corner, with occasional waymarkers to keep you on the right of way. The footpath initially swings left to head SW, then in 200m forks right to head W. In 250m keep ahead at a major path crossing. In 200m you reach the southern edge of the wood (with allotments on the left) and continue past farm buildings. For the final 150m keep left, eventually going past a house and out onto a lane (Groombridge Road).
Go straight across the lane onto a permissive path into the Burrswood estate. Follow this broad tree-lined path (once the driveway to the mansion) for 300m, curving gently round to the left, to reach the modern driveway leading to Burrswood Hospital7.
If you are doing the Circular Walk and returning to Ashurst, go to §8.
Turn sharp right onto a footpath into Burrs Wood. In 300m turn left onto a permissive path along the side of a wooded valley. Follow this out to a driveway leading to Burrswood Hospital and its Tea Room. Afterwards, make your way past the front of the mansion onto its main driveway and follow this out to the village green in Old Groombridge.
For a short cut (saving 750m) you could take the direct route to the Burrswood Tea Room described in §8. If you do this, resume the directions at [•] below.
Do not join the driveway but turn sharp right onto a public footpath into Burrs Wood, initially heading NW. In 300m you come to a T-junction at the top of a wooded valley. Ignore the footpath sign pointing right and turn left onto a permissive path, down the side of the valley. At the bottom of the slope it merges with another path from the right. You soon pass a pond on the left with very clear water and a little further on you might hear a repetitive sound8 coming from a metal container covered with vegetation.
Continue along the path, in 200m keeping left at a three-way path junction. In a further 250m the path leaves the wood and you bear left onto a driveway, with views down to your right of the River Grom flowing through a meadow. In 150m you come to the small Wellspring Car Park on your left and another down to your right. The most direct route is to veer right through this lower car park and go down a wide path to the right of a low building, which is the Burrswood Tea Room; you come out onto its terrace, by the entrance.
If you continue past the car parks and turn right onto the main driveway to the hospital, signs to the Tea Room direct you down a short winding path in front of the church and through a reception area (turning left and then right) to the terrace; not an ideal route with muddy boots.
[•] To continue the walk to Eridge, make your way down from the Tea Room terrace and go across the grass onto a path to the right of the church. Continue past the front of the mansion9, either going through or skirting around its formal gardens. On the far side bear left to join its driveway, heading away from the house. Follow this past a few houses and then down to the right, passing a ‘No Exit’ sign (for vehicles).
Follow this long tree-lined driveway as it curves back to the left, heading E for 750m past fields and fishing ponds. At the end of the drive you go past Burrswood Lodge and emerge onto the side of a sloping green in Old Groombridge. Go straight across a minor road onto a short lane cutting across the green to its top corner, where the Crown Inn on your left is another possible refreshment stop.
Continue the directions at §12.
Keep ahead onto the driveway to Burrswood Hospital and its Tea Room. Afterwards, go back through Bocky's Car Park and turn left onto another driveway heading west. Fork right into Burrs Wood and turn left after 100m onto a public footpath. Go down through the wood and across fields to join the Sussex Border Path West, parallel to the railway. Follow the SBP via Jessup's Farm to Ashurst station.
Keep ahead and follow the driveway gently downhill for 400m, curving round to the right halfway along. Where it turns sharply left towards the hospital buildings the onward route to Ashurst station is straight ahead, but to visit its Tea Room stay on the main drive. The most direct route is to veer right through the small Bocky's Car Park and then turn left down a wide path to the right of a low building, which is the Burrswood Tea Room; you come out onto its terrace, by the entrance.
If you follow signs to the Tea Room they direct you down a short winding path in front of the church and through a reception area (turning left and then right) to the terrace; not an ideal route with muddy boots.
To continue the walk to Ashurst go back up the wide path, across Bocky's Car Park and turn left onto the driveway in front of the small Wellspring Car Park. After passing a few cottages there are views down to your left of the River Grom flowing through a meadow. At the end of the field on your right veer right onto a signposted permissive path into Burrs Wood.
You will be turning off this path after just 100m, but the path crossing is easy to miss. It is best to look on the right for a stile leading into a field; at this point turn left (away from the stile) onto a narrow path going down through the trees. Depending on the conditions there may be alternative paths bypassing some muddy stretches on the main path, but all routes should take you down to a plank bridge over a stream at the bottom of the wood, into a field.
Follow a grassy path straight ahead across the field. On the far side go through a belt of trees, over a stile and bear right to come out into the corner of a long narrow field. Go diagonally across this, alongside a low bank on your right. In the far corner keep right as you go past a footpath signpost for the Sussex Border Path West.
The final part of the walk is the reverse of Extra Walks 29 & 110, which follow the Wealdway down the broad grassy strip on the left and under the railway.
For the next 500m stay near the field boundary on your right, climbing gently and gradually curving round to the right. At the end of the last field go over a stile next to a fieldgate onto a tree-lined track. At the top of the slope you go past an opening on the right (your outward route) and now retrace your steps back to Ashurst station: in 40m turn left down a grassy track between hedges and turn right at the bottom onto a track leading to the station car park. Cross the footbridge for trains to London.
Turn right onto the A264, leaving the WW. In 250m turn left onto a footpath which goes through a belt of trees and then heads east across Ashurst Park. Shortly after crossing the B2188 fork left at a footpath junction to reach the Hare at Langton Green via a clockwise loop past a school and then along Speldhurst Road.
For the Alternative Walk turn right onto the A264. There is a pavement for the first 50m but you then have to negotiate an awkward 200m along the roadside. Opposite the second of two lanes branching off to the right (Groombridge Road) cross the main road with great care and take an inconspicuous footpath up a slope into a belt of trees. Follow the path as it curves gently round to the right alongside a wire fence, later with a field behind a low hedge on your left.
In 200m the path dips down to cross a stream on a wooden footbridge, then goes up a slope to emerge into the corner of a large field. Bear left and go along the field edge, soon with views of the Ashurst Park10 estate on your left. At the end of the field cross Ashurst Manor's driveway via two wooden gates and continue in the same direction towards some outbuildings behind a hedge. Join another tarmac drive to pass to their right and follow this out past a large pond and through a white-painted wooden gate to the B2188.
Cross the road carefully and continue on the signposted footpath opposite, across a small field. On the far side cross a driveway and go through an old metal gate into another field. Bear right and follow a faint grassy path across it, aiming for the right-hand end of a line of trees 200m away.
The suggested route to the lunch pub in Langton Green is not the shortest – which would be to continue in the same direction all the way to the A264 – but avoids returning on the same route.
Shortly before reaching the far side, therefore, veer left to go through a gap in the trees, 30m in from the corner. Go diagonally across the next field to its far left-hand corner. Make your way around a clump of holly trees and go over a stile to the left of a metal fieldgate to continue along the right-hand edge of a field, beside a wire fence and heading NE. On the far side go through an old gate and across a strip of grass to a tarmac lane. Do not go over the stile opposite but turn right onto the lane, away from the entrance to Ashurst Place.
Head west along the A264 for 150m, then turn right onto a footpath. At a path crossing turn left onto the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk (TWCW) and follow this across the A264 to a junction of farm tracks at Top Hill.
Head south on an enclosed path past Top Hill Farm and through the eastern edge of Beech Wood. Turn right onto the B2110 and follow it down to the village green in Old Groombridge.
For the direct route to Old Groombridge turn left at the second track junction, heading S. Continue on an enclosed path in much the same direction for 500m, going through gates and stiles as necessary: between fields, past a cluster of farm buildings on the left and finally alongside a wood. At the end go over a stile into Beech Wood.
Follow the waymarked path down through the wood for 250m, at first round to the right but soon veering left to stay close to its left-hand edge. The path eventually swings left and drops down onto the B2110. Turn right and go along its pavement, still descending. In 200m you come to the Crown Inn on your right, at the top of a sloping village green.
Take a footpath past the churchyard towards Groombridge Place. Go round its right-hand side and cross a stone bridge over the River Grom. Head south-west on a footpath leading back into Groombridge via its recreation ground. Go along Station Road, Gromenfield and Corseley Road to a primary school. Turn left onto the High Weald Landscape Trail (HWLT) and follow this alongside fields. At the end turn right onto the access road for Aytton's Wood car park.
The remainder of this walk is the same as the shorter afternoon route in Extra Walk 120.
At the top of the village green11 cross the B2110 carefully and go through a wooden gate onto a footpath, with the brick-built church of St John the Evangelist12 off to your right. Continue downhill on a grassy path towards the right-hand side of a large field. Go through an old iron gate, across a driveway and onto a path alongside a lake, with Groombridge Place13 off to the left.
Follow the path down a few steps on the left to head directly towards the manor house, framed by four giant redwood trees. Bear right as indicated and go across a tarmac driveway to continue between the moat and the River Grom. Near the back of the house turn right to cross a stone bridge over the river. Go straight across a tree-lined avenue and turn half-right onto a broad grassy path between low wire fences.
At the field edge follow the path round to the left and uphill, then through a gate at the top into the corner of a recreation ground. Continue between its left-hand edge and a line of tall trees, later with a children's playground on your right. Go out through a side gate and turn left onto Station Road, with the Junction Inn opposite. The main route continues up the road for 100m, but follow the short detour below if you want a closer look at the Spa Valley Railway14 (SVR).
Bear left into Newton Willows, leading to the old station building. Go round its left-hand side and under the road bridge to the platform15, where there is a kiosk serving snacks when trains are running. If you are not finishing the walk with a trip on the SVR, return to the access road and turn left. Go up a flight of steps and straight across Station Road.
On the main route, turn right off Station Road opposite the steps signposted to the SVR. Go through a small wooden gate onto an unmarked tarmac path and keep ahead along a cul-de-sac (Gromenfield). At the end turn right and then left onto Corseley Road. Go along this road for 250m, past a church and a school, to a sharp right-hand bend.
Instead of following the road round to the right, turn left onto a tarmac path, joining the High Weald Landscape Trail16 (HWLT). Cross the railway on a footbridge and continue on an enclosed path alongside fields for 400m. Go through a kissing gate and turn right onto the access road for Aytton's Wood car park. In 150m a signpost indicates that the public footpath turns left into the wood.
Either follow the HWLT as it skirts around Aytton's Wood car park and Birchden Wood to the start of Harrison's Rocks, or take a more direct route through the car park and a corner of the wood. Head south on the HWLT or any convenient path parallel to the rocks. Return to the public footpath and follow it to Forge Farm Oast.
The route described below follows the public footpath, but you could also stay on the road and go down through the car park onto one of the paths used by climbers to reach the start of Harrison's Rocks.
For the suggested route turn left and follow the potentially muddy footpath downhill and round to the right. Cross over a forestry track and continue on a path through trees, skirting the car park on your right and keeping ahead at path crossings (unless you want to cut through the open access Birchden Wood on the left).
The footpath comes out into a more open area and then turns left to continue alongside the wood, gradually approaching the embankment carrying the SVR. At the closest point to the railway there are two ways into the wood; the first is the route from the car park and the second (a wooden gate 50m further on) has a sign for Harrison's Rocks17.
The suggested route now leaves the footpath to take a route closer to the rocks. If you decide to stay on the footpath alongside the SVR it goes up a slope and through a wooden fieldgate after 500m, where the main route rejoins from the left. If you take this route, continue the directions at [•] below.
For the suggested route, go through the gate and turn right to reach the start of the rocks. The path soon forks; the easier route is the lower path which stays near the right-hand edge of a strip of woodland, a little way below the rocks on your left. For a closer look, fork left to go along the climbers' path at their base; on this route you will need to return on one of the link paths before the line of the rocks turns left after 500m. The lower path eventually bears right and leaves the wood through a gap in the fence, where you rejoin the public footpath.
[•] Follow the footpath downhill, initially close to the railway below on your right. Go through a gate and past a few cottages to come to a path junction in front of Forge Farm Oast, an attractive oast-house conversion on the site of Birchden Forge18.
Leave the HWLT at Forge Farm Oast and go along its driveway. After crossing the railway turn left onto Forge Road and follow this lane all the way to Eridge station.
Turn right onto the house's driveway, leaving the HWLT. After going over a level crossing (where the first track is the SVR and the second is the main line) you come to a T-junction with a lane (Forge Road).
Turn left and go along this quiet lane for about 1½ km, parallel to the railway. Shortly after the lane skirts around some large ponds you will see the platforms of Eridge station off to your left. Turn left at a T-junction to reach the station entrance.
If you want some refreshment before the journey home continue past the station; the pub is on the left-hand side of the road. Return the same way.
- The Sussex Border Path runs for 240 km along the length of West & East Sussex, from Thorney Island on the Hampshire border to Rye.
- The Wealdway runs for 130 km through the Kent and Sussex Weald, from Gravesend on the Thames estuary to the outskirts of Eastbourne.
- Fordcombe developed to support a large paper mill on the River Medway. In its heyday the town's shops included a cricket ball maker, as can be seen on the village sign.
- The 44 km Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk (formerly the High Weald Walk) was established by the Borough Council as one of its centenary events in 1989.
- St Mary the Virgin, Speldhurst, is the same design as an earlier 15thC church which had been destroyed by fire in 1791. Its ‘wretched’ replacement had fallen into disrepair and the present church was built in 1871 to a much higher standard. It is decorated throughout with pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows from Morris & Co, designed by Edward Burne-Jones.
- All Saints, Langton Green, is a Gothic Revival church in Early English style, built in 1863 to a design by Sir Giles Gilbert-Scott. Like its larger neighbour at Speldhurst it contains some pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows, including one by William Morris.
- The 40-bed Burrswood Hospital offers rehabilitation and post-operative care with a strong Christian theme.
- This is a hydraulic ram, presumably pumping water up to the pond from the stream at the bottom of the valley.
- The mansion at Burrswood was designed by Decimus Burton for David Salomons, who had bought the estate (once part of Groombridge Place) in 1832.
- The Ashurst Park estate was laid out in the early 19thC, with a large house and informal garden of lakes and woodland walks surrounded by parkland. The estate was broken up at the end of the 20thC and the land to the north now contains a private hospital and a care home, but the mansion (renamed Ashurst Manor) is still in private ownership.
- The cluster of houses around the village green is the original settlement (‘old’ Groombridge, in Kent). The railway led to the development of the new village across the River Grom, in East Sussex.
- St John the Evangelist was built in 1625 as a private chapel for Groombridge Place, only becoming the parish church in 1872. It has some unusual features, such as a one-handed clock.
- The present house at Groombridge Place was built in the early 17thC on the site of a medieval moated house (and possibly an earlier Saxon fort). A 12 year-old French Count was held hostage here in the Hundred Years War until his ransom was paid 30 years later. It was the setting for Peter Greenaway's 1982 film The Draughtsman's Contract and was used for Longbourn in the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
- The Spa Valley Railway restored a public service between Tunbridge Wells West and Groombridge in 1997, extending this to Eridge in 2011. The line had been closed by British Rail in 1985, some years after the Beeching Report.
- The SVR had to re-site the platform at Groombridge station on the other side of the road bridge because the station building had been converted into a private residence. The line through Groombridge used to carry trains to London, Three Bridges, Brighton and Eastbourne.
- The High Weald Landscape Trail runs for 145 km across the length of the High Weald, mostly near its northern edge, from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye.
- Harrison's Rocks are managed by the British Mountaineering Council. The path along the base of the rocks is a good place to observe climbers on this outcrop of Ardingly sandstone.
- Ammunition was manufactured at Birchden Forge until the mid-18thC.
» Last updated: November 4, 2016