Main Walk: 17 km (10.6 miles). Four hours 15 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8½ hours.
Alternative Walk, starting from Ashurst: 14½ km (9.0 miles). Three hours 40 minutes walking time.
Explorer 135. Eridge, map reference TQ541347, is in East Sussex, 4 km NE of Crowborough.
4 out of 10 (3 for the short cut omitting Broadwater Warren).
This walk covers similar ground to the western part of the Tunbridge Wells Circular walk (#19), using another railway line to access this attractive part of the High Weald from the other side. The stations at Eridge and Tunbridge Wells (West) are now connected again by the Spa Valley Railway, and on days when it is operating you are likely to see and hear vintage steam or diesel trains at several places along the route.
The morning section is an undulating route across typical High Weald territory, starting with a slightly longer route to Mottsmill Stream than that in the Eridge to Forest Row walk (#109). There is a choice of routes into Groombridge, one of many rural villages which developed away from the original hamlet with the arrival of the railway.
The afternoon section goes from Old Groombridge's village green to Groombridge Place, a beautiful Jacobean manor house surrounded by a medieval moat. The full route goes back through the main part of Groombridge and continues past Harrison's Rocks, where you can often see climbers practising their skills on this massive outcrop of Ardingly sandstone. It then swings round to go through Broadwater Warren nature reserve (free entry), a gloomy conifer forest gradually being restored to heathland and woodland by the RSPB. The southern part of Broadwater Forest contains another sandstone outcrop and the final section of the walk goes past the full length of Eridge Rocks, a nature reserve managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
The soils in the High Weald do not drain well and you will need to be prepared for muddy or waterlogged paths after wet weather.
Directions are given for a shorter morning route from Ashurst, the station before Eridge on the same line. This Alternative Walk initially follows the Ashurst to Eridge walk (#236) before heading east through the Burrswood estate and a fine bluebell wood to Old Groombridge. As well as being an attractive route in its own right, this option would be worth considering if you missed the train for a group walk and wanted to catch up.
The serpentine nature of the revised afternoon route allows for a couple of (mutually exclusive) short cuts on both the Main and Alternative Walks, cutting out either Harrison's Rocks or Broadwater Warren. Some minor variations and short cuts are mentioned in the text.
If you want to abandon the walk in Groombridge and the heritage railway is operating, you could take a train back to Eridge or – in the other direction – to Tunbridge Wells (West), which is a short walk from the town's mainline station. A more prosaic option would be to take Metrobus 291 (hourly Mon–Sat, two-hourly Sun & BH) to East Grinstead or Tunbridge Wells.
A link section was added in 2020 so that the full walk takes in both Harrison's Rocks and Broadwater Warren (previously you had to choose between what are now the two short cuts). In addition, the route through Broadwater Warren was changed to take advantage of the RSPB's restoration work in opening up some new heathland trails.
The alternative start from Ashurst was also added at this time. Some attractive sections had been dropped from Walk #236 when Burrswood Hospital (and its welcoming tearoom) closed in 2019, and they have been adapted for this walk.
There is a direct hourly service from London Bridge to Eridge (Mon–Sat), taking 56 minutes. On Sundays you have to travel from Victoria and change at Oxted, with a longer journey time of around 75 minutes.
If driving, there are some parking spaces outside Eridge station. The station car park costs £2.90 Mon–Sat, £2.25 Sun (2019).
Take the train nearest to 10:00 from London Bridge to Eridge. As the Alternative Walk has a relatively short morning section you could start this variation an hour later.
There is a choice of pubs in Groombridge, after around 7 km on the Main Walk and 5 km on the Alternative Walk. The suggested place is the 16thC Crown Inn (01892-864742), which has some outdoor seating overlooking the sloping village green and serves good food to 2.30pm (3pm Sat, 5pm Sun). The alternative is ten minutes away in the main part of the village, where the Junction Inn (01892-864275) serves food with some Far Eastern specialities to 3pm (4pm Sun; not Mon).
At the end of the walk The Huntsman pub (01892-864258) is ideally placed, a stone's throw from Eridge station. However, the pub is closed all day on Mondays and might also be closed on other midweek afternoons.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
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.
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Walk Options ( Main | Alt. )
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- Main Walk (17 km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
If you are doing the Alternative Walk (from Ashurst), start at §4.
- Eridge Station to Mott's Hill (3½ km)
- Mott's Hill to Corseley Road (2 or 1¾ km)
- Higher route (2 km)
- Lower route (1¾ km)
- Corseley Road to Old Groombridge (1¾ km)
- Ashurst Station to Burrswood (2¼ km)
- Burrswood to Old Groombridge (2½ km)
- Old Groombridge to Groombridge Place (½ km)
- Groombridge Place to Harrison's Rocks (2¼ km)
- Harrison's Rocks to Park Corner (2 km)
- Lower Route
- Higher Route
- Park Corner to the Veteran Oak (2¼ km)
- Groombridge Place to Broadwater Warren (2½ km)
- Through Broadwater Warren to the Veteran Oak (2½ km)
- The Veteran Oak to Eridge Station (2¾ km)
- Harrison's Rocks to Eridge Station (2½ or 3 km)
- Main route
- Alternative route (+½ km)
Turn right out of the station, then right again into Forge Road. In 350m bear left onto a footpath towards Renby Farm. At the corner of a wood turn right onto the Sussex Border Path (SBP). Follow this undulating path across a couple of valleys and past a hilltop house (Bullfinches), then down past Rocks Farm into another valley. Cross Mottsmill Stream, joining the High Weald Landscape Trail (HWLT), and go up to a lane (Mott's Hill).
Leave the station – shared with the Spa Valley Railway1 (SVR) – and turn right. In 50m turn right again into Forge Road, passing the station platforms on your right and heading in the same direction as London-bound trains. In 300m the road bends left to skirt around several large ponds. Where it dips and curves back to the right, bear left onto the driveway to “The Lodge” and two other houses, signposted as a public footpath.
After passing the houses keep ahead on a narrow path, with glimpses of a lake behind the trees on your right. At the end go over a stile and continue along the right-hand edge of a large field. On the far side keep ahead on a farm track for 300m, soon with a wood on your right and heading SW.
At the end of the wood turn right at a footpath signpost, joining the Sussex Border Path2 (SBP). Go downhill on a concrete farm track, which can be very muddy near the bottom. After crossing a stream keep ahead towards the corner of a wood. Go through a kissing gate on the right and follow a path diagonally up a field.
In the opposite corner bear left through a gap in the hedge to go alongside some trees, then straight ahead to a footpath signpost. Keep ahead along the left-hand edge of another field, but halfway along turn half-right as indicated and cut across it to the corner of a wood (Little Wigsell). Bear left here and go down the left-hand field edge to a track. Cross the footbridge opposite into a field.
Head NW uphill, to the left of a copse and aiming just to the left of the houses on the horizon. Continue alongside a wooden fence guarding the first of these houses, then in the same direction across a second field. On the far side go over a stile and along the right-hand edge of the next field, then straight ahead across three more fields. Follow the path down through a belt of trees and over a stile into a grassy area near the top of a valley.
Bear right to go downhill, with a wood on your right. After going through a line of trees keep right to go down to the bottom of a meadow. In the corner go over a stile to cross Mottsmill Stream3 on a footbridge and follow a path up through the trees, now also on the High Weald Landscape Trail4 (HWLT). At the top go over a stile in the hedge onto a lane (Mott's Hill).
Either head north-west up the side of the valley to Motts Down and turn right onto a footpath going past Sherlock's Farm, or follow the SBP/HWLT on a route close to Mottsmill Stream. The routes rejoin just before a railway bridge which you go under to reach Corseley Road.
There is a choice of routes for this section. The higher route has fine views across the Weald; the slightly shorter lower route (staying on the SBP & HWLT) has more road walking but continues through a bluebell wood and a tree-lined valley alongside Mottsmill Stream.
Turn right briefly onto the lane, then in 25m turn left onto a narrow footpath. Continue up a large field towards a prominent red house 250m away. Turn right in front of the house to go along a farm lane, heading NE.
In 600m the lane veers left and comes to a junction by an outbuilding. Fork right to stay on the main track, passing some run-down farm buildings on the left and then continuing along the left-hand edge of a field. At a corner follow the field edge briefly round to the left, but before reaching the next corner turn right onto a broad grassy path across the field to head NE again.
Continue downhill in this direction across open fields for 750m, twice going alongside a belt of trees. Just before the path reaches the railway embankment it merges with the main route from the right. Go under the railway bridge and keep ahead across two small fields, crossing Mottsmill Stream on a wooden footbridge in the middle. On the far side go over a stile onto a lane (Corseley Road).
Turn right onto the lane and follow it gently downhill for 400m. Just before it bends right to go back uphill, veer left through a small parking area which has a garden gate for “Valley Cottage”. Take the footpath to the left of the garage and keep ahead on the main path through a wood (Long Shaw), with Mottsmill Stream down to your right.
After leaving the wood continue through a long narrow valley. At the end follow the path up a short slope to the left, over a stile and in the same direction across the shoulder of a large field. Just before the path reaches the railway embankment it merges with the alternative route from the left.
Turn left onto Corseley Road and follow it through Groombridge for 800m. Opposite Orchard Rise cut through a cul-de-sac (Gromenfield) to Station Road, near a bridge overlooking the SVR station. Go down Station Road, passing the Junction Inn, then bear right at a mini-roundabout and follow the B2110 into Old Groombridge for the Crown Inn.
Turn left onto Corseley Road, crossing Eridge Stream3 and passing a water treatment works. Go past the start of the Forest Way5 on the left (leaving the SBP) and follow the road uphill, taking care as there is no pavement on this stretch. Stay on the road as it turns right at the top, and again in 200m where it turns left (leaving the HWLT which follows a path to the right of a school, the main afternoon route).
Continue along Corseley Road for 250m, passing the church of St Thomas the Apostle6 and some residential streets. At a junction with Orchard Rise on the left, turn right into a byway and immediately fork left into a cul-de-sac, Gromenfield. Where this turns sharply left, keep ahead on a short tarmac path to reach Station Road. Unless you want to look down on the SVR's Groombridge station7 from the bridge on the right, turn left onto the road.
Access to the platform itself is via the old station building ahead, doubling back under the road bridge; there is another chance to visit it on the main afternoon route.
Going down Station Road you soon pass the Junction Inn on the left, a possible lunch place. At the end of the road bear right onto the B2110 at a mini-roundabout. After crossing the River Grom3 keep right to stay on the main road as it goes uphill alongside the sloping village green8. At the top cross the main road carefully for the suggested lunch place, the Crown Inn.
Continue the directions at §6.
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. At a footpath crossing turn right and go through Burrs Wood to the driveway leading to the Burrswood mansion, just before its junction with Groombridge Road.
The first 1½ km is the same as Walk #236.
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 briefly joining the Sussex Border Path2 (SBP). This driveway 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 gate (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. Follow a grassy path near the top of this picturesque valley for 400m, with Burrs Wood off to the right. On the far side ignore the gate in the wire fence ahead (the continuation of Walk #236) and bear right to come to a stile leading into the trees.
Go over the stile and follow the path down into the wooded valley, soon bending left to descend less steeply. In a further 125m the right of way turns right to go steeply down to a bridge across the stream at the bottom, but at a potentially muddy spot about 50m before this turning there is an unofficial path slanting down to the bridge which is somewhat easier.
After crossing the stream follow the path up the other side of the valley. Keep ahead at a path crossing, still climbing steadily and curving round to the right. At the top of the wood bear left onto the continuation of the right of way, an enclosed path climbing more gently between fields. In 300m the footpath meets the tarmac driveway to the Burrswood9 mansion (not visible from the walk route) at a sharp bend.
Turn sharp left onto the old driveway, coming out onto Groombridge Road 300m to the north (or go along the lane to this point if access is no longer permitted). Take the footpath heading east through Newpark Wood. Turn right at a path junction, joining the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk (TWCW) and follow it southwards past Top Hill Farm. Continue down the eastern edge of Beech Wood and turn right onto the B2110 to come to the village green in Old Groombridge.
The suggested route for the next 300m is not on a designated right of way, but is better than the public road. If there is still a sign welcoming walkers into Burrs Wood, turn sharp left (almost doubling back) onto a broad tree-lined path, the old estate driveway. This curves gently round to the right and eventually leads out past a metal fieldgate (and another ‘Welcome’ notice) onto Groombridge Road.
If it appears that permission to use this old driveway has been withdrawn, bear left instead onto the new driveway (the continuation of the right of way) to come out onto Groombridge Road in 50m. Turn left and go along this quiet lane for 300m to meet the exit from the old driveway opposite the entrance to Newpark Farm.
If coming from the old driveway, go straight across the lane into Newpark Farm (its driveway is a right of way, although not signposted as such when last checked). Go past some buildings on the left and keep ahead into Newpark Wood, initially heading E. Ignore ways off and follow the main path all the way through the wood (with occasional yellow waymarkers to confirm the route), gradually moving away from its right-hand edge.
In about 500m the path swings left, merging with a faint path from the right. In a further 150m it curves back to the right and comes to the north-eastern corner of the wood. Go through a wooden fieldgate to continue on a grassy track between tall hedges.
In 125m ignore gates on both sides leading into fields and stay on the track as it turns half-left. Go along this potentially muddy farm track for 250m and through a metal fieldgate to reach a major path junction. Ignore a gate on the right leading into a field with a large new barn, but turn right onto a tree-lined farm track heading S, joining the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk10 (TWCW).
Follow this enclosed path in much the same direction for 500m, going through gates and stiles as necessary. The path goes between fields, past a cluster of farm buildings on the left and finally alongside a copse. At the end go over a stile into Beech Wood.
Continue on a faint woodland path, which soon swings right to go past a large oak tree and then veers left downhill near the left-hand edge of the wood, passing a few yellow waymarkers. In 250m the path emerges onto the B2110 where you turn right to go along its pavement, still descending. In 200m you come to the Crown Inn on your right, at the top of a sloping village green8.
Take a footpath past the churchyard towards Groombridge Place. Go round its right-hand side and cross the River Grom on a stone bridge.
Cross the B2110 by the pub and go through a wooden gate onto a footpath, joining (or continuing on) the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk10 (TWCW). The path goes between an attractive cottage and the brick-built church of St John the Evangelist11. Go through another gate into a field and follow a grassy path sloping gently downhill, with a glimpse of Groombridge Place Gardens12 ahead on your left.
In the far right-hand corner go through an iron gate, across an old driveway and onto a path alongside a lake. At the end go down a few steps on the left to head directly towards Groombridge Place13, framed by four giant redwood trees. Bear right as indicated and cross a tarmac driveway to continue between the moat and the River Grom3. Near the back of the house turn right and cross the river on a stone bridge.
If you are doing the short cut omitting Harrison's Rocks, go to §10.
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. Follow the HWLT/TWCW footpath as it skirts around Aytton's Wood car park and the north-western corner of Birchden Wood to go alongside the railway line (or cut through the car park and a corner of the wood).
On the other side of the bridge continue briefly along a track, then take a potentially muddy path between low wire fences, slanting off to the right. Follow it round to the left and uphill. At the top of the slope go through a gate and continue near the left-hand side of a recreation ground, later passing a children's playground on your right. Go out through a side gate and turn left onto Station Road, with the Junction Inn opposite.
Fork left into a side street (Newton Willows), towards the old Groombridge station7 building. Before continuing the walk (back to Station Road via a flight of steps on the right) you might like to make a short out-and-back detour through the station building and round to the new platform for the Spa Valley Railway1 (SVR) on the other side of the road bridge; there is a kiosk on the platform serving snacks when trains are running.
The route now retraces the outward route of the Main Walk for 400m.
After going up the steps cross over Station Road and go through the small wooden gate opposite onto a tarmac path. Keep ahead along a cul-de-sac (Gromenfield) and turn right at the end to come out onto Corseley Road. Turn left and follow this tree-lined street for 250m to a sharp right-hand bend, passing the church of St Thomas the Apostle6 and a primary school on the left.
At this bend turn left onto a tarmac path alongside the school, leaving the outward route from Eridge and joining the High Weald Landscape Trail4 (HWLT). Cross the railway on a long footbridge and continue on an enclosed path between fields for 400m. At the end go through a kissing gate and turn right onto the access road for Aytton's Wood car park. In 150m there is a footpath signpost pointing left into the trees.
Unless it looks impossibly muddy turn left and follow this footpath downhill and round to the right. Cross over a forestry track and continue on a path heading W through trees, with the open access Birchden Wood on your left and the car park on your right (which you could have reached directly by staying on its access road).
Unless you want to cut through a corner of the wood, follow the footpath out into a more open area. At a corner of the wood the path veers left, crosses a stream and gradually approaches the embankment carrying the SVR. At its closest point there are two openings into the wood: a path from the car park and (50m further on) a wooden gate with a sign for Harrison's Rocks.
If you are doing the short cut omitting Broadwater Warren, go to §13.
Go through a gate on the left for Harrison's Rocks. In 250m the path splits and there is a choice of routes.
The easier route is to follow the walkers' path a little way below the rocks, then rejoin the public footpath curving round past Birchden Forge to the south-eastern corner of Birchden Wood. Alternatively, follow the climbers' path along the base of the rocks. About 50m from the end of the outcrop go up a partly-concealed flight of steps cut into a cleft in the rocks. Head east on a forest track for 150m and then leave the wood via a path on the right.
After the two routes rejoin continue along the footpath past Pinstraw Farm to Eridge Road at Park Corner.
Go through the gate for the rocks, leaving the HWLT & TWCW. Turn right onto a path which gradually diverges from the public footpath alongside the railway embankment and soon reaches the start of the sandstone outcrop. After about 250m the path splits, with the right-hand (lower path) being the one intended to be used by walkers.
If you want a closer look at the rocks you can take the more interesting but slightly awkward higher route in §8b.
Fork right onto the “walkers' path”, which runs a little way below the rocks and gradually curves back towards the railway line. Eventually you go through a gate and turn left, rejoining the public footpath (now some way above the tracks). In 200m go through a gate at Birchden Forge14 and keep ahead at a footpath junction, staying on the HWLT & TWCW.
After passing the attractive Forge Farm Oast and Forge Farm House keep ahead on a broad grassy path, climbing gently and soon curving round to the left to go along the southern edge of Birchden Wood. After passing an old fieldgate ignore a side path up to the left and follow the footpath up to and out of the wood, merging with a path from the left (the higher route).
Fork left onto the “climbers' path” alongside the base of the rocks. If you persevere with this uneven path (rather than taking one of the narrow link paths down to the other route) it eventually turns sharply left at a corner in the outcrop. A little further on you cross a small dip on a plank bridge with a wooden handrail and go up a short slope.
At this point (where you can see the end of the outcrop, about 50m ahead) veer left towards what looks like a dead end but actually leads to a partly-concealed flight of stone steps cut into a cleft in the rocks. Go up these steps and veer left onto one of the paths through the undergrowth at the top of the rocks to reach a broad forest track in Birchden Wood.
Turn right onto this track, soon with a fence on your right. In 150m, after it has curved left, turn right onto a path heading ESE. Follow this path out of the wood, merging with a public footpath coming up from the right (the lower route) as you come out into the open and rejoin the HWLT & TWCW.
After leaving the wood you might have to negotiate a potentially muddy narrow stretch between hedges for about 100m, but the footpath then turns half-left and becomes a pleasant tree-lined green lane with glimpses across a valley on the right. In 400m you pass the buildings of Pinstraw Farm and carry on along the farm track, eventually coming out onto Eridge Road at a junction, Park Corner.
Go straight across Eridge Road and head north on Park Corner Lane, leaving both waymarked trails. At the T-junction with Broadwater Forest Lane turn right onto a path into the RSPB's Broadwater Warren nature reserve. At a major path junction turn half-left onto a track through the western heath, curving round to the right.
In the centre of the heath keep ahead on a track heading east into woodland, then zig-zag right and left to come to the ‘veteran oak’ on the reserve's boundary with Eridge Rocks nature reserve.
Cross Eridge Road (slightly to the left) to continue in much the same direction on Park Corner Lane, leaving both waymarked trails. Go all the way along this quiet lane, initially with a wood on the right and then gently downhill between fields. Just before the road meets Broadwater Forest Lane at a T-junction turn right through a wooden kissing gate onto a path into the RSPB's Broadwater Warren15 nature reserve.
The path goes along the edge of a wood, with a large field off to the right. In 450m it veers left and meets a broad track. Go straight across this and through a wooden side gate onto another track heading NNE, briefly joining (in the reverse direction) the RSPB's Heathland and Woodland Trail (H&WT), waymarked by green arrows.
The track soon emerges onto the restored western heath and gradually curves round to the right. After passing a “Heathland birds” panel and a clump of conifers in the centre of the heath keep ahead where another track merges from the left, leaving the H&WT (and rejoining the short cut route).
At the end of the heath go through a gate and keep ahead on the broad track, climbing gently through woodland. In 150m turn right at a major path crossing to head S on another broad track.
In 150m the track turns slightly left, and a little further on the H&WT rejoins from a gate on the right. The track comes to a T-junction where you turn left to head E along another broad track for 300m, passing a “Wildlife corridor” panel along the way. You come to a small clearing with a wildlife pond behind a magnificent 300-year old tree, described on a “Veteran oak” panel.
Continue the directions at §12.
Head east on a footpath going through a meadow, under the SVR and across fields to South Farm. Continue past paddocks and stay on the farm drive to come out by a crossroads on the edge of Broadwater Forest. Keep ahead briefly onto Lodge Lane, then take a forest track on the right leading to the RSPB's Broadwater Warren car park.
On the other side of the bridge turn left to go along an avenue of lime trees, leaving the TWCW. At the far end take any convenient path across a meadow to its far right-hand corner. Go over a stile and follow the path round to the right, then over more stiles as you pass under a railway bridge. On the other side turn left and head for a wooden footbridge over a ditch and another stile, which leads into a large field.
Follow a line of tall trees across this field, heading E and gradually moving away from the railway line. On the far side go over a stile in the hedge and continue in the same direction on a faint path across an even bigger field, crossing a small dip in the middle. In 350m keep ahead to go alongside a projecting group of trees. In the corner of the field follow the path past a pond and up a gentle slope towards some farm buildings.
Keep ahead past the buildings, ignoring a footpath off to the right, then up a flight of steps and through a parking area. Continue on a tarmac driveway heading NE, initially between tall hedges and later with paddocks on the left. In 350m stay on the drive as it turns half-right and follow it out past South Farm Nursery to a crossroads at the edge of Broadwater Forest.
Go straight ahead at the crossroads, onto Lodge Lane. In 75m turn right through a gap to the side of a wooden barrier into Bowyer Wood. This permissive horse ride soon turns left and heads SE for 500m, eventually coming out onto Broadwater Forest Lane opposite a car park. Cross the road carefully and enter the RSPB car park, where there is an information board about the Broadwater Warren15 nature reserve on the left.
The suggested route through the western part of the RSPB nature reserve is mostly along its Heathland and Woodland Trail, waymarked with green arrows: skirting the northern heath and through an area of wet woodland on the valley floor, then out to the western perimeter and back along a track through the western heath.
Ignore the gate behind the noticeboard and make your way to the other side of the car park. Go out through a wooden kissing gate and up to a broad track, with another gate opposite.
The suggested route through Broadwater Warren mostly follows the RSPB's Heathland and Woodland Trail (H&WT), waymarked by green arrows. For a much simpler (but less interesting) route through the reserve you can turn left and follow the long straight track for 700m, going straight ahead at two major path junctions and rejoining the main route at the second. If you take this short cut (saving just over 1 km), continue the directions at [•] below.
For the suggested route go straight across the track and through the gate opposite onto a path heading W, which comes to a path crossing in 250m. Unless you want to make a short out-and-back detour to the signposted “Valley Viewpoint” ahead, turn left. Follow the track down a slope and through a side gate.
In front of the main stream running through the reserve (a tributary of the River Grom) turn right as indicated onto a potentially muddy and slightly awkward path. This follows the course of the stream for about 150m, passing a “Wet woodland” panel and with boardwalks over a few side streams. A longer stretch of fenced boardwalk then zig-zags across the stream and over some waterlogged ground to a T-junction with a broad track.
Turn right onto this track, initially heading SW. After going through a wooden gate the area up to the left becomes more open where the forest has been thinned out. There is still wet woodland down to the right (described on a “Sphagnum paddock” panel) and at one point there is a signposted side path which you can use if the main track is waterlogged.
The track eventually curves left and comes to a clearing. Ignore a wooden fieldgate leading out to a road (Broadwater Forest Lane again) and turn sharp left onto a broad track heading SE across the restored western heath. After passing a clump of conifers in the centre of the heath keep ahead where another track merges from the right, briefly leaving the H&WT (and rejoining the main route from Harrison's Rocks).
Head south on a path alongside the base of Eridge Rocks. Go through the nature reserve's car park onto a path through a strip of woodland which meets the A26 near its junction with The Forstal. Either follow Cycle Route 21 parallel to and then under the A26 to the station, or (for a longer but quieter route) go along The Forstal and turn left at the end into Groombridge Lane.
Turn right at the clearing onto a broad path heading S, with a sign welcoming you to Eridge Rocks16 Nature Reserve. In 100m fork left and simply keep ahead along the main path, passing the start of the sandstone outcrop on your right just after a path crossing. In about 500m the path (still alongside the rocks) curves to the left and then back to the right, eventually coming to a small car park with an information panel.
Go through the car park and bear right across its access road onto a narrow path into the trees, heading SW. Follow this undulating woodland path for 600m, which unfortunately runs fairly close to the A26 for much of the way before veering left to meet it. Go through a metal fieldgate and turn right onto the tarmac path beside the main road.
The suggested route to complete the walk is along a bridleway close to the A26. This is obviously not ideal and for a quieter route you could turn right into the side road ahead (The Forstal), then left at the end onto a gloomy sunken lane leading down to the station. This alternative route is about 500m longer and not recommended in poor light, as there are no pavements and Groombridge Lane has more traffic than you might expect.
For the direct route to the station, cross the A26 with great care, go past The Forstal and through a lay-by. At the far end keep ahead on a bridleway screened (rather inadequately) with young trees, signposted as Cycle Route 21. As it goes gently downhill parallel with the main road there are occasional views of Wildwood Vineyard17 through the trees on the left.
At the bottom of the slope bear right onto the driveway from Hamsell Manor. Go under the main road and bear left onto a lane, with the tea place (The Huntsman pub) opposite. The station entrance is a further 100m up the road, on the right.
All trains leave from the platform down to the left; the one on the right is for the SVR.
The shorter and easier route is to follow the walkers' path a little way below the rocks, then rejoin the public footpath to Birchden Forge. Alternatively, follow the climbers' path along the base of the rocks. About 50m from the end of the outcrop go up a partly-concealed flight of steps cut into a cleft in the rocks. Head east on a forest track, leave the wood via a path on the right and double back along the public footpath to Birchden Forge.
Go down the driveway (leaving the HWLT/TWCW), cross the railway tracks and turn left onto Forge Road. Follow this lane all the way to Eridge station.
For a closer look at the rocks you can take the slightly awkward alternative route in §13b.
turn right at a footpath junction in front of the attractive Forge Farm Oast.
The path gradually approaches a public footpath coming up from the right: you need to turn sharp right onto it (almost doubling back, to head WSW), either via a short link path after 50m or where the two paths merge at the end of the wood.
Follow the footpath downhill past an old metal fieldgate, then round to the right and onto the driveway for Forge Farm House. Immediately after passing the attractive Forge Farm Oast turn left at a footpath junction.
Follow the driveway out towards the railway line, with Eridge Stream3 flowing over a weir in the garden on the left. 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 all the way along this quiet lane, parallel to the railway. In 1 km the lane skirts around some large ponds and you pass a footpath off to the right, the outward route of the Main Walk. On the final 400m you can see the platforms of Eridge station across the fields on your left.
Forge Road ends at a T-junction where you turn left. If you want some refreshment while waiting for a train, The Huntsman pub is on the left-hand side, 100m past the station entrance (return the same way).
- 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 Sussex Border Path runs for 240 km along the length of West & East Sussex, from Thorney Island on the Hampshire border to Rye.
- Mottsmill Stream, Eridge Stream and the River Grom are all tributaries of the River Medway, joining the main river 2 km west of Groombridge.
- 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.
- The Forest Way runs for 17 km between East Grinstead and Groombridge, along part of a branch line closed by Beeching in 1966. It is now a popular cycle route.
- St Thomas the Apostle, Groombridge (in the diocese of Chichester) was designed by the famous architect Norman Shaw. It was built to serve the new community which developed after the arrival of the railway and opened in 1884.
- The platform at Groombridge station had to be re-sited 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 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.
- The Burrswood estate was once part of Groombridge Place. In 1832 it was bought by David Salomons, who became the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London in 1855. In 1948 the mansion became a private hospital but this closed in 2019.
- 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 John the Evangelist, Groombridge (in the diocese of Rochester) 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.
- Groombridge Place Gardens are a popular visitor attraction, combining 17thC formal walled gardens designed as ‘outside rooms’ of the house, and the Enchanted Forest which aims to “intrigue, amuse and entertain”.
- 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.
- Ammunition was manufactured at Birchden Forge until the mid-18thC.
- The Broadwater Warren nature reserve was acquired by the RSPB in 2007. The society is gradually transforming the “dark and lifeless” Broadwater Forest to “a mosaic of open heathland, woodland and boggy valley mire”.
- Eridge Rocks is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because the rocks support a great variety of tiny ferns, mosses, lichens and liverworts. Some climbing is permitted but there are more restrictions than at Harrison's Rocks.
- Wildwood Vineyard was planted in 2016 and produced its first harvest (of Regent red, Bacchus white and Pinot Noir rosé still wines) in 2018.
» Last updated: February 10, 2020