16.9km (10.5 miles)
Option a) Loop to Bewl Water adds 2.4km (1.5 miles)
Option b) Longer Bewl Water Route into Wadhurst adds 3.9km (2.4 miles)
Option c) Shorter Bewl Water route into Wadhurst adds 1.6km (1 mile)
Option d) Robertsbridge start adds 4km/2.5 miles
5 out of 10: quite hilly, but with mainly gentle gradients
OS Explorer 136, Landranger 188 (199 for the Robertsbridge start)
After a fairly flat start across the valley of the River Rother, this is a classic Wealden walk with all the usual elements - a hilly mix of pasture and woodland, fine panoramic views across valleys, a succession of converted oast houses, a cobnut orchard, and the typical Wealden villages of Ticehurst and Wadhurst. The route also passes very close to the shore of the beautiful Bewl Water reservoir and there are optional extra sections (see Walk Options below) which take you down to hidden places on its shoreline.
While the walk is very rural throughout, there are three sections of road walking. One is a necessary 2km (1.2 mile) walk along the main road through the village of Ticehurst, which can be broken up by a visit to the pretty village centre (or even lunch at The Bell, though the Bull Inn in Three Leg Cross 1.1km/0.7 miles further on is highly recommended). The other two are idyllic saunters down back lanes whose verges are alive with wild flowers in spring. The first of these is just after lunch, a 2.1km (1.3 miles) back lane which was cut off by the construction of the reservoir and is now something of a hidden lost world. The other is the 3.3km (2 mile) ending from Wadhurst village to Wadhurst station.
These road sections, and others on gravel tracks and lanes make this walk fairly well suited to winter, which is also the time when the somewhat early closing times of the Wadhurst tea rooms will be less of a problem. At this time of year there could be flooding at the start of the walk, where it crosses the Rother valley, though there is a road alternative to this if necessary.
Easily the best time to do the walk is in spring, however, when the lanes verges are covered in flowers and this ancient landscape looks at its best. This is also an idyllic walk for a summer day, when there is ample daylight for a leisurely exploration of the margins of Bewl Water, or in October, when the wooded landscape provides plenty of autumn colour.
Etchingham and Wadhurst are both on the railway line from Charing Cross or London Bridge to Hastings. Trains currently stop hourly at Etchingham and half hourly at Wadhurst (hourly after 7.30pm), taking just over an hour from London. The train that currently leaves London around 10.15am would be enough to get you to lunch in time, but if you want more time to explore Bewl Water in the afternoon, or if you want to get to the tearooms in Wadhurst before they close, the 9.15am train might be more advisable. This is also the train to get if you are doing the alternative start from Robertsbridge.
Shortening the walk with buses
On Mondays to Saturdays the 254 bus runs between Ticehurst, Wadhurst village, Wadhurst station and Tunbridge Wells station enabling you to start or finish at Ticehurst or save yourself the 3.2km (2 mile) walk from Wadhurst village to its station. For details see the walk document
The main walk route takes you close to the edge of the picturesque Bewl Water Reservoir, but never actually visits it. These three options enable you to do just that.
a) Loop to Bewl Water . Starting from the Bull Inn, the recommended lunch stop, this takes you on a beautiful circuit down to the edge of the reservoir, returning you to a point a little way into the afternoon of the main walk. It adds 2.4km (1.5 miles) to the walk.
b) Longer Bewl Water Route into Wadhurst. This is the longest of the three options and spends the most time on the reservoir's edge. It explores a remote promontory that sticks right out into the reservoir, and with fine panoramic views as well as intimate close-ups of the water's edge. It adds 3.9km (2.4 miles) to the walk length
c) Shorter Bewl Water Route into Wadhurst. This is the ideal way to visit the reservoir with the minimum of effort. It is in effect a shortened version of option b) which adds just 1.6km (1 mile) to the walk length
For those who prefer a longer morning option d) Longer start from Robertsbridge adds 4km/2.5 miles to the start of the walk
Very much the recommended pub stop for this walk is the Bull Inn in Three Leg Cross (01580 200 586 www.thebullinn.co.uk , 7.4km (4.6 miles) into the walk. This is a large walker (and dog) friendly pub in a remote rural location, with an interesting and not overpriced menu, and plenty of outside tables in summer. It serves food from 12-2.30pm Monday to Saturday, and later on Sunday "according to demand. The pub is also open for drinks all afternoon and does food 6.30-9pm Tuesday to Saturday
An earlier alternative (6.3km/3.9 miles into the walk) is The Bell, High Street Ticehurst, TN5 7AS (01580 200234 www.thebellinticehurst.com ), which also has good reports from walkers. It is mainly table service, but apparently quite efficient.
Ticehurst also has a cafe - the Greedy Goat Cafe (01580 200 955) - which does hot meals. But its opening hours are somewhat limited: till 3pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but only 1.30pm on Wednesday and midday on Saturday.
Ticehurst churchyard, just beyond the Greedy Goat Cafe, makes a very nice picnic spot, with pleasantly situated benches. There is a convenience store on the corner at the start of Church Street.
The best tea option is probably Jempsons, whose cafe is next to the supermarket of that name. It is open until 5pm Monday to Saturday but closed on Sunday.
Nearby is the characterful Wealden Wholefoods Cafe, but this shuts at 4.30pm Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, and at 3.30pm on Wednesdays, with last orders half an hour earlier.
Meanwhile the Cottage Tea Room between the two pubs is a charming small tea room which is open Thursday to Sunday until 5pm.
Otherwise Wadhurst has two pubs, both of which do tea in pots. The Greyhound, the first you come to is is more traditional and sometimes refuses to do tea if the bar is busy. It has a (well-hidden) garden at the back. The White Hart 100 metres up the road, has been revamped and taken upmarket, but has nice sofas and seems happy to serve tea.
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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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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk