Tunbridge Wells Circular walk
A varied High Weald walk with stretches through parkland, restored heathland and woods containing massive sandstone outcrops, finishing alongside the Spa Valley Railway.
Main Walk: 17½ km (10.9 miles). Four hours 15 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.
Short Walk, starting from Frant: 15 km (9.4 miles). Three hours 40 minutes walking time.
Long Walk, starting from Frant: 21¼ km (13.2 miles). Five hours 10 minutes walking time.
Long Circular Walk, via Groombridge: 23¾ km (14.7 miles). Five hours 45 minutes walking time.
Explorer 135 & (if starting from Frant station) 136. Tunbridge Wells, map reference TQ585392, is in Kent, 7 km S of Tonbridge.
4 out of 10 (6 for the Long Walks).
This walk through the High Weald near the border of East Sussex and Kent has plenty of interest and variety. After escaping from the suburban charms of Tunbridge Wells you climb through woodland to a possible early lunch stop in the elegant hill-top village of Frant, dominated by its large triangular green. The walk continues with an attractive but potentially muddy section through the landscaped parkland of the Nevill Estate's Eridge Old Park. On the edge of the park Forge Wood has a fine display of bluebells in spring.
After the suggested lunch stop in the hamlet of Eridge Green the route passes Eridge Rocks, the first of the impressive sandstone outcrops which are a distinctive feature of the High Weald. The Main Walk then goes through Broadwater Warren nature reserve (free entry), a gloomy conifer forest gradually being restored to heathland and woodland by the RSPB. After passing through the remnants of Broadwater Forest you glimpse another outcrop at High Rocks and the final stretch is alongside the Spa Valley Railway (SVR), a restored branch line.
There are no rights of way through Broadwater Forest, but there are fenced paths between the privately-owned plots of woodland which appear to be permitted horse rides. If these paths are closed off because of (say) forestry operations, you would have to devise a somewhat lengthy detour along public roads.
The route into Tunbridge Wells goes across its large wooded common into The Pantiles, a famous colonnaded walkway with interesting shops, galleries, cafés and (sometimes) market stalls. This spa town developed in the 17thC after an influential nobleman staying nearby became convinced that the iron-rich water from its chalybeate spring had curative properties. Its popularity waned in the 18thC when sea bathing became more fashionable than ‘taking the waters’, but revived after regular visits from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The town's popularity with the royal family led to it being granted the “Royal” prefix in 1909.
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.
The original version of this walk started at a rural station one stop down the line from Tunbridge Wells, called Frant but some way from its village. This has been relegated to the Short Walk option as its first 300m is a less-than-ideal stretch along a busy narrow road with no pavement, but it might allow you to take a later train and catch up a group which started from Tunbridge Wells.
The original version also took a much longer afternoon route and this has been retained as two Long Walk options (starting from either Frant or Tunbridge Wells). This longer route goes along the southern part of Broadwater Warren and then past Harrison's Rocks, where you can often see climbers practising their skills on this massive outcrop of Ardingly sandstone. It continues past the SVR station in Groombridge and the grounds of Groombridge Place, a beautiful Jacobean manor house surrounded by a medieval moat, before rejoining the Main Walk at High Rocks. This option includes a much longer stretch alongside the SVR and if their steam trains are running you could round off the day with a ride from Groombridge (or High Rocks) into the old Tunbridge Wells West station, leaving just a 1¼ km stroll via The Pantiles to the mainline station.
You can shorten all versions of this walk in several ways by using buses to or from Tunbridge Wells (details below). The Long Walk also includes directions for a short cut into Groombridge which cuts out the loop past Harrison's Rocks, and a diversion to finish at Eridge station.
There used to be a choice of routes out of Tunbridge Wells, but the longer one was dropped as a new housing development along the route made it rather less appealing. At the same time the other one was modified to reduce the out-and-back overlap along the High Street.
There are up to four trains an hour from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells, taking about 55 minutes; fewer on Sundays and in the evenings. Frant is the next station on the same line but it only has an hourly off-peak service, taking 1 hour. A return to Tunbridge Wells is sufficient for the circular walk, but a slightly more expensive return to Frant would let you start from either station.
Tunbridge Wells is a major transport hub with a good bus service, making it possible to start or finish this walk at several points along the route. Several Stagecoach services go through Frant village and along the A26 to Eridge Green there are hourly services from Brighton & Hove 29 and Compass 228/229 (Mon–Sat). On the Long Walk options, Metrobus 291 goes through Groombridge (hourly Mon–Sat, two-hourly Sun & BH).
If driving, parking anywhere near the centre of Tunbridge Wells is difficult and/or relatively expensive; if you can find a space in the small station car park it costs £7.30 Mon–Fri, £4.70 Sat, £1 Sun & BH. At Frant the cost is £4.40 Mon–Fri, £2.80 Sat, £1 Sun & BH (2022).
Take the train nearest to 09:45 from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells (or 10:15 if starting from Frant). If you plan to stop at the earlier lunch pub in Frant village, take the train an hour later.
The suggested lunch stop (after 10 km from Tunbridge Wells; 7½ km from Frant) is the Nevill Crest and Gun (01892-864209) in Eridge Green, which has a large garden and serves good food all day from noon. If you start late and want an earlier lunch stop, the George Inn (01892-750350) in Frant village also has a beer garden and serves good home-made food, up to 2.30pm daily.
At the end of the walk there are many refreshment places in Tunbridge Wells. The cafés in The Pantiles have outdoor seating in fine weather, and some of the restaurants and winebars here also serve cream teas. There are more cafés, delicatessens and coffee shops on the way to the station along the High Street, such as Juliets at #54 (01892-522931; open Tue–Sun to 5pm). There are also plenty of pubs in the town, with the most unusual being the Opera House, a splendid building which more recently was a cinema and bingo hall and is now a JD Wetherspoon pub; it is a five-minute walk up Mount Pleasant Road from the station.
If you don't expect to reach Tunbridge Wells in time for its tea places, the High Rocks Inn (01892-515532) has a large garden next to the SVR station. On the Long Walk you might also be able to get some mid-afternoon refreshment a little earlier, in Groombridge: the walk route passes the Junction Inn (01892-864275; closed Mon & Tue), and when the SVR is operating there is a buffet on the station platform.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (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 | Long )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (17½ 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 either of the options from Frant station, start at §C.
If you take a bus to Frant (Abergavenny Arms), head south on the A267 and pick up the directions in §D.
If you take a bus to Eridge Green (church), start at §E.
- Leave the station by the Mount Pleasant Road exit. Cross the main road and take the short street off to the left into Calverley Grounds. Unless you want to explore the gardens more fully, go up its right-hand side and leave via Mountfield Gardens. Cross over Grove Hill Road into Sutherland Road and continue across The Grove to its far left-hand corner. Keep ahead on Claremont Road. After it bends left turn right onto a footpath going alongside the grounds of Claremont Primary School. At the end bear right onto the continuation of the footpath, a long alleyway (The Chase). At the end cross a road and enter Farmcombe Road Open Space. Go across it to an exit near its top left-hand corner.
- Trains can arrive on either platform. From Platform 2, go up steps to the Mount Pleasant Road exit. You can reach this exit from Platform 1 via the overhead walkway, but you can also go out through the ticket office, turn right and take a path up steps and over the railway to Mount Pleasant Road.
- Either way, cross the main road carefully and go along a short street with a sign for Great Hall parking (about 50m to the left of the Mount Pleasant Road exit; almost opposite the path from the ticket office). Keep to the left of the car park entrance to enter Calverley Grounds?.
Unless you want to explore them more fully, fork right inside the gardens and follow the path up its right-hand side, curving round to the left. Where the path veers away from the edge turn sharp right to go out onto a residential street (Mountfield Gardens).
- For a small detour you could go straight ahead from the main entrance, passing the Tea House? café. Continue through the small Sunken Garden, go up steps on the right and turn right at the top to reach the Mountfield Gardens exit from the other direction.
- Go down Mountfield Gardens to its junction with Grove Hill Road. Cross over into Sutherland Road (just off to the right), which leads into The Grove?. Bear left to go along the top edge of this open space, dotted with trees. After passing a children's playground veer left onto a short path leading out to Claremont Road.
- Keep ahead on this road, crossing Buckingham Road and several more side streets. Shortly after the road has curved round to the left turn right onto a signposted footpath, a tree-lined alleyway alongside the grounds of a primary school. At the far end ignore the signposted byway opposite and bear right across the school's access road onto the continuation of the footpath.
- This long alleyway (The Chase) goes between the school playing fields and garden fences, and eventually comes out onto a patch of grass alongside Farmcombe Road. Carry on alongside the road for a short distance, but before its T-junction with Forest Road cross over and go through a small metal gate into Farmcombe Road Open Space.
- Make your way across the grass towards the left-end of a belt of trees across the recreation ground, about 150m away. Go through a gap in these trees and leave through a wooden gate on the left, going up a few steps onto Forest Road.
- Turn right onto Forest Road, then in 100m take a footpath on the left. At the end turn left and go along Benhall Mill Road for 400m to the entrance to Nevill Golf Club. Take the footpath heading south along the edge of the golf course, signposted as the HWLT and TWCW. Follow this waymarked trail across Bayham Road, past Brickhouse Farm and up through Chase Wood into Frant.
- Turn right and go along Forest Road for 125m, crossing over carefully at some point. Before reaching the Warwick Park bus stop turn left onto a track between houses, signposted as a footpath. In 60m fork right off the main track onto a path through a strip of woodland, soon going between wooden barriers.
- The woodland path eventually goes alongside some new houses, bends right and comes out onto a minor road (Benhall Mill Road). Turn left and go along this road, passing the new Regency Grange housing estate on the left. In 400m you reach the entrance to Nevill Golf Club on the right, with the Nevill Crest? on top of each of the brick pillars.
- Take the signposted footpath to Frant to the right of the Golf Club entrance, joining both the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk? (TWCW) and the High Weald Landscape Trail? (HWLT). Go all the way alongside the brick wall on your right; past the car park and club house, then downhill past a practice area.
- At the bottom go through a wicket gate, cross the B2179 carefully and continue on the long farm drive opposite. At Brickhouse Farm go past some buildings and along the right-hand edge of the farmyard. On the far side turn left as indicated onto a farm track, then in 25m turn right onto a tree-lined enclosed path between fields.
- In 200m follow the path into Chase Wood, crossing a stream on a wooden footbridge. In 100m fork left in front of a small open area, then keep left at the next path junction to join a wider path. Stay on this broad path as it crosses another stream and makes a long steady climb through the wood, soon curving right to head SW.
- Eventually you go through a wicket gate into the bottom corner of a large field. Take a grassy path up its left-hand edge, in 100m crossing over a track where there is a wide gap in the hedge on your left. A little further on go through a smaller gap in the trees to continue up the left-hand edge of a second field. In the top corner go over a stile into a churchyard.
- Follow the path round to the front of St Alban? (which is worth visiting). Go out through its lychgate and keep ahead along Frant's picturesque High Street, where the George Inn (the early lunch pub) is the first building on the left and the Old School? is on the right. Where the road forks continue along the top of a small triangular green to the site of an old well.
Continue the directions at §D.
- There is a choice of routes at the start. For the main route, turn left out of the station and go along the B2169 for 300m, then turn left onto a footpath going up a track between fields to a lane. You can avoid the awkward stretch along the busy B2169 by turning right out of the station, then right again in the centre of Bells Yew Green onto this quiet lane. Either way, instead of taking the lane all the way into Frant, turn left into the driveway to Manor Farm and take a footpath across fields to the village.
- Leave the station through its car park and turn left onto the B2169. After the pavement ends you will need to take great care, especially where the road curves left under a railway bridge. On the other side turn left onto the access road for a new development (Paddock View), which is also a public footpath.
- After passing the houses continue on a track climbing gradually between fields towards some buildings on the horizon, veering right and then left halfway up the hill. At the top keep ahead across a yard and pass to the right of a large corrugated iron shed.
- Go across a concrete track (slightly to the right) and over a stile to continue on a rather gloomy enclosed path. Where the way ahead is barred by a gate with a “Private Property” sign, go over a stile on the left onto a narrow path between hedges. At the end turn right onto a minor road, joining the alternative route.
- Leave the station through its car park and turn right onto the B2169. In 250m you pass the Brecknock Arms and come to a crossroads in the centre of Bells Yew Green?. Turn right at the junction, signposted to Frant and soon crossing over the railway.
- In 400m ignore a bridleway on the left as the lane bends right. Continue along the lane for a further 500m, round several more bends. Eventually a footpath comes in from a gap in the hedge on the right, the main route.
- After passing Brynderi Cottage turn left through the solid brick and stone gateway to Manor Farm, with a concrete footpath marker. In 300m, where the driveway turns slightly away from the hedge on the right, keep ahead across a patch of grass towards a metal fieldgate in the hedge.
- Go through a wooden gate to the right of the fieldgate onto a path across a large field, heading W towards a prominent half-timbered building in the distance (Inchbroom House). After passing a few isolated trees the path bears slightly right and comes to a gate on the far side of the field.
- Go through the gate and follow the path across a second field, again curving slightly to the right. Another gate on the far side takes you onto a grassy path through a sloping meadow, gradually approaching the road you were on earlier. Go though a side gate beside a double fieldgate and turn left onto the road, taking care as there is no pavement.
- In 150m the road forks in front of a small triangular green. Climb up the grass between the two roads to the site of an old well at the top. Unless you want to visit the village pub or church (150m away to the right, at the far end of the picturesque High Street) turn left at the well, joining both the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk? (TWCW) and the High Weald Landscape Trail? (HWLT).
There is a choice of routes to start this section, but neither is ideal. The main route is along a footpath but this can only be reached via an initial stretch along a busy narrow road with no pavement (including a particularly awkward spot under a railway bridge with limited visibility). The less hazardous alternative route in [?] is entirely along roads.
- Head south across Frant's large green on the HWLT/TWCW. Keep ahead along the A267, then turn right to go between a large wood and Eridge Old Park. After skirting a lake continue over a small hill with a distant view of Eridge Park mansion beyond another large lake. Go through Forge Wood and uphill around field edges to the A26.
- From the old well head S along the top of the small green, cross a minor road and climb up onto Frant's main green. Follow a path down the large sloping green, with another minor road on your left and the A267 down to your right. You will end up heading S on the other side of the main road, but you can first cross the minor road and continue on another part of the green.
- About 175m beyond the main green turn right down a narrow path between “Thornbury” and a small telephone exchange, still on the HWLT & TWCW. Follow the enclosed path downhill and turn left in front of a deer fence at the bottom. Almost immediately turn right through a gate in this fence to enter Eridge Old Park?. Head W through the parkland along a pleasant grassy path.
- In 350m go through a kissing gate into a more wooded area and follow the path to the left. Continue on this tree-lined path at the edge of the wood for 500m, ignoring a permissive path off to the right along the way. Where the path comes to a fence, with a metal fieldgate on the left and a wood ahead, turn right down a slope and across a stream.
- Follow this potentially very muddy broad track alongside the wood, detouring through the semi-cleared area on your right if necessary. At a sign marking the “HALFWAY ISH” point through the parkland there is a large lake? on the left, at the end of which you turn left to cross its outflow on a footbridge.
- On the other side of the lake turn right through a gate in the deer fence onto a fenced path around two sides of a field. In the far corner follow a broad track round to the right into a large field, heading W. You could simply continue along this stony track, but the right of way is a more pleasant grassy path alongside the low wire fence on the right.
- As you climb up the slope you get a distant view of Eridge Park? ahead on your right, across another large lake. After descending, return to the track and follow it briefly into some trees, then fork right as indicated into Forge Wood.
- This attractive woodland path meanders through the trees for about 300m and eventually veers left to return to the track. Cross over onto a footpath opposite, which turns right to run parallel to the track, heading N. Ignore a stile into the field on the left and follow the path across a stream.
- Climb steeply up the right-hand edge of two large fields, passing through a belt of trees between them. At the top of the hill follow the field edge round to the left, across a dip in the ground and back up the other side. In the top right-hand corner of this last field go through a gate onto the A26, with a bus stop on your left.
- Turn right onto the road and go up to Warren Farm Lane by Eridge church (with an out-and-back detour along the A26 for a further 100m to visit the Nevill Crest and Gun pub). Go along the lane and turn right at Eridge Rocks onto a woodland path, leaving the HWLT/TWCW. Head north alongside the outcrop and continue to the southern boundary of Broadwater Warren.
- Cross the busy main road carefully, turn right and go along the pavement for 100m. Just before reaching Holy Trinity church? the onward route is along Warren Farm Lane on the left, signposted “Park Corner 1½ miles”.
- Follow the lane round to the left, passing a row of cottages and heading towards a wood. On reaching the trees leave the waymarked trails by turning right through a small parking area, with an information panel about Eridge Rocks?. Follow the path into the woods, keeping the rocks close by on your left and ignoring ways off to the right.
- In 150m the path swings left, then back to the right to head N again. At the end of the rock outcrop keep ahead at path crossings for a further 200m to reach the southern boundary of the RSPB's Broadwater Warren? nature reserve. The path T-junction is overlooked by a magnificent 300-year veteran oak with a new wildlife pond behind it, both described on information panels.
If you are doing the Long Walk (via Groombridge), go to §H.
The suggested route through the eastern part of the RSPB nature reserve is along its Heathland and Woodland Trail, waymarked with green arrows: past Decoy Pond and then through the eastern heath to the RSPB's car park. Leave through its entrance and cross Broadwater Forest Lane.
- Turn right at the T-junction to head E on a broad track, soon crossing over a stream in a potentially boggy area. Stay on the main track as it bends left, then veers right to head SE. At a path crossing after 300m turn left as indicated, signposted to the Decoy Pond and Car Park.
- In 200m you come to another path crossing and turn left again, now heading N. The track goes down a slope and skirts a large restored pond at the bottom, with a “Decoy pond” panel.
- Unless you want to make an out-and-back detour to the signposted “Heathland Viewpoint” off to the right (350m away), follow the main track round to the left and uphill, curving right at the top to head N again. After going through a wooden side gate the track continues through heathland.
- At a major path crossing (with a “Nightjar Viewpoint” on the right) turn left and follow a long straight track through the restored eastern heath for 650m, heading NW; along the way you pass “A long military history” panel with information about the use made of the site in two world wars.
About 50m before the track comes out onto a road (Broadwater Forest Lane), veer left through a wooden kissing gate into the RSPB car park, where there is an information board about the nature reserve. Leave through the car park entrance and cross the road carefully to a gate leading into Broadwater Forest.
The suggested route through Broadwater Warren to the RSPB's car park follows its Heathland and Woodland Trail (H&WT), waymarked by green arrows.
Head north on permissive paths through Broadwater Forest, crossing Lodge Lane along the way. Continue along minor roads into High Rocks, rejoining the TWCW.
- Go through the gate onto the potentially muddy horse ride, heading NW. Ignore a forest track to the right soon after the gate, but 100m further on turn right onto a long straight path through the trees, heading NE.
- In 200m cross a minor road (Lodge Lane) and continue in the same direction on another fenced path through the woodland, 20m off to the right. In 300m this comes to a T-junction where you veer right to emerge onto a sunken lane, leaving Broadwater Forest.
- Turn left and follow Fairview Lane downhill, round a long right-hand bend and then merging with Hillswood Road from the left. The road (now High Rocks Lane) curves right, turns left at the bottom of a dip, climbs and turns back to the right.
- As you reach High Rocks station on the Spa Valley Railway? a track comes up from the left, the route of the Long Walk. Continue along the road to reach the High Rocks Inn, a possible refreshment stop.
The tracks through this privately-owned woodland appear to be permitted horse rides. If this changes and access is no longer possible, use the Walk Map to devise an alternative route along roads to High Rocks.
Continue the directions at §M.
- Turn left into Broadwater Warren and make your way to the nature reserve's south-western corner, initially on broad tracks and then on a path at the edge of the wood.
- Turn left at the T-junction to head W on a broad track. In 150m ignore a track off to the right near a “Wildlife corridor” panel, but in a further 150m turn right at the next path junction onto another broad track. In 100m turn left through a wooden gate onto a track heading W through a more open area.
- In 600m you go through a gate to merge with another track from the left and come to a major path junction. Do not take either the broad track ahead or the one to the right (the continuation of the H&WT), but instead veer left onto a narrow path heading W along the edge of a wood, with a large field on the left.
- In 450m this path comes out through a gate onto Park Corner Lane at a T-junction, with Birchden Farm on the other side of the main road to the right (Broadwater Forest Lane).
Short Cut to Birchden (+¾ km)
- Cross over Park Corner Lane and head W along Broadwater Forest Lane. In 350m, and 100m before a Groombridge village sign, go over a stile on the left beside a metal fieldgate. Follow a faint grassy path heading SW across a field.
- On the far side pass to the right of a house, going alongside its garden fence. Go out over a stile and turn right onto a minor road, then in 50m turn left into the access road to Harrison's Rocks. In 50m turn right through a kissing gate onto an enclosed path.
The suggested route through Broadwater Warren to its south-western corner mostly follows (in reverse) the RSPB's Heathland and Woodland Trail (H&WT), waymarked with green arrows.
If you want to take a short cut (saving 2½ km by omitting the loop past Harrison's Rocks), follow the directions below.
At the end of this short cut continue the directions at §K.
- Head south on Park Corner Lane to Eridge Road. Continue in the same direction along a farm track past Pinstraw Farm to Birchden Wood, briefly rejoining the HWLT/TWCW.
- Turn left onto Park Corner Lane and follow it S for 500m, climbing gently at first, to reach a T-junction with a minor road at Park Corner. Cross the road carefully, slightly to the left, and take the “Private Road to Pinstraw Farm” (briefly rejoining the TWCW & HWLT on this public footpath).
- After passing the farm buildings the footpath becomes a pleasant tree-lined green lane, with glimpses across a valley on the left. The footpath eventually swings right and you might have to negotiate a potentially muddy narrow stretch between hedges for about 100m. At Birchden Wood the path splits, with the signposted public footpath continuing down to the left.
Finishing at Eridge Station (+2 km)
- To divert to Eridge station fork left, staying on the public footpath. Follow the path 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, leaving the waymarked trails.
- Follow the driveway out towards the railway line, with Eridge Stream? flowing over a weir in the garden on the left. After going over a level crossing (where the first track is the Spa Valley Railway? 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 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). Trains to London and Uckfield both leave from the platform down to the left; the one on the right is for the SVR.
If you want to divert to Eridge station and finish the walk there, follow the directions below.
Fork right off the HWLT/TWCW into Birchden Wood, turning left at a path junction to come to the top of Harrison's Rocks. Go down through a cleft in the rocks to their base and head north on any convenient path parallel to the rocks. At the end join the public footpath alongside the Spa Valley Railway (SVR) and follow it around Birchden Wood (or cut through the wood), eventually going out along the access road from Aytton's Wood car park. Shortly before reaching a road turn left onto a footpath.
- Fork right into the open-access wood, leaving the waymarked trails again. In 50m ignore a path down to the left which rejoins the public footpath. In a further 50m turn left at a T-junction onto a broad forest track, with a wire fence on your left for the first 150m.
For the most interesting route bear left at the end of the fence to come to the top of Harrison's Rocks and continue briefly along them. In a short distance you will find a flight of stone steps cut into a cleft in the rocks.
- More simply, you could just carry on through Birchden Wood. All paths and forest tracks heading N eventually lead to Aytton's Wood car park, 1 km away. If you take this woodland route, resume the directions at [?].
Go down these steps and bear right, crossing a small dip on a plank bridge with a wooden handrail. Continue on the “climbers' path” alongside the base of the rocks, soon turning right to head N.
- If this path is too uneven there are several link paths down to an easier “walkers' path” a little way below the rocks.
- In about 500m the two paths merge and after passing the last of the rocks there is a wooden gate on the left. Go through this and turn right onto a public footpath alongside an embankment carrying the Spa Valley Railway? (SVR), rejoining the TWCW & HWLT.
In 50m an opening on the right leads back into Birchden Wood. Unless you want to cut through it keep ahead on the footpath outside the wood, which gradually moves away from the embankment.
- Climbers use these short cuts to return to the car park, but the woodland paths are crossed by tiny streams and can be tricky after heavy rain.
- On the suggested route the footpath crosses a stream at a potentially muddy spot, veers right and goes across a small open area. After going back into the edge of the wood the path passes Aytton's Wood car park (which has a toilet block in the middle) on the left.
Make your way onto the car park's access road and follow it away from the car park, up a slope and round to the right. In about 200m (and 50m before a T-junction with a road ahead) turn left through a kissing gate onto an enclosed path.
- Follow the footpath between fields and across the SVR into Groombridge. Turn right onto Corseley Road, leaving the HWLT. In 250m cut through a cul-de-sac on the right (Gromenfield) and turn left onto Station Road.
- Follow the enclosed path between fields for 400m, then across the railway on a long footbridge (with Groombridge station visible off to the right). On the other side go past a primary school and turn right onto Corseley Road, leaving the HWLT.
- Go along this tree-lined street for 250m, passing the church of St Thomas the Apostle? 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 left, keep ahead on a short tarmac path to reach Station Road.
Unless you want to look down on the SVR's Groombridge station? from the bridge on the right, turn left onto the road.
There is a kiosk on the SVR platform serving snacks when trains are running; access is via the old station building ahead, doubling back under the road bridge. You could also shorten the walk with a trip on the heritage railway:
If you take the train to High Rocks, continue the directions at §M.
If you take the train to Tunbridge Wells West, follow the brown tourist signs along Linden Park Road to The Pantiles and complete the directions at §N.
- There is a kiosk on the SVR platform serving snacks when trains are running; access is via the old station building ahead, doubling back under the road bridge. You could also shorten the walk with a trip on the heritage railway:
- Go through the recreation ground opposite the Junction Inn and down a path towards Groombridge Place, crossing a stone bridge over the River Grom. Stay on the TWCW as it goes past Groombridge Place Gardens and up the Grom valley. After moving away from the river to pass a water treatment works the path winds its way back down towards it. Eventually the path takes you across the river and under the railway to reach a minor road at High Rocks.
- Going down Station Road you soon come to the Junction Inn on the left. Cross Station Road and go through a side gate into the recreation ground opposite the pub. Pass to the right of a children's playground and continue near the right-hand side of the ground to the far corner.
- Go through a gate onto a fenced path which turns left downhill, then turns half-right near the bottom. Go up to a stone bridge to cross the River Grom? in front of the moated Groombridge Place?.
- Unless you want to detour to see the front of the house, turn right on the other side of the bridge. Where the drive bends left around the back of the house, keep ahead on a footpath between fences. After crossing a stream continue through a meadow, with Groombridge Place Gardens? on your left.
- In 400m cross a stile and continue in the same direction, soon with the “Enchanted Forest” behind a waterway on your left. In 200m cross a stream on a wooden bridge and continue along the left-hand field edge, later veering left uphill to head NE towards two houses. Cross a stile and a driveway to continue along an enclosed path.
- The path later skirts around a large water treatment plant behind black metal railings on your right. After passing them go over a stile and cross Broom Lane onto the track opposite, signposted as a public bridleway.
- In 250m go across a parking area in front of a house and then down towards a footbridge. Cross the stream, go through a metal gate and follow the main path as it swings right and then left. In 100m go over a stile on the right and turn half-left downhill along the edge of a field (with trees on your left) towards a footpath post, now heading SE.
- Continue through a potentially muddy patch near the river and go over a stile by a huge oak tree. On the other side bear right, passing under power lines. The path later swings round to the left and continues just inside a wood, staying fairly close to the river.
- Eventually the path bends right, crosses the river on a footbridge and passes under the railway. Bear left uphill on the other side and turn left onto a minor road by the SVR station to come to the High Rocks Inn, another possible refreshment stop.
- Go past the High Rocks Inn and bear right onto a path through Friezland Wood, following the TWCW. In 500m ignore a track leading under the railway to continue through the wood and later a narrow meadow leading to a new housing estate. Go through this to the A26, then up a tarmac path onto Tunbridge Wells Common. Veer right onto a woodland path roughly parallel with the main road, eventually dropping down to rejoin it opposite the Pantiles Hotel. Go down Swan Passage into The Pantiles.
- Continue along the road, passing the entrance to the privately-owned High Rocks? opposite the inn. Just before the road crosses over the railway bear right past a wooden barrier into Friezland Wood, with a good view of the rock outcrop on your right.
- Follow the main path for 500m as it goes between the railway and the rocks, later dropping down to go alongside a stream. Ignore a track off to the left going under the railway and bear right to continue through the wood.
- In 150m veer left through a wooden gate with a TWCW marker, where the main path curves up to the right. In a further 100m fork left and follow the path down a slope, soon crossing a ditch on a plank bridge and leaving the wood. Keep left to continue on a broad grassy path through a narrow meadow between the railway and the Ramslye housing estate.
- At the end of the meadow go through a gate and continue alongside a row of new houses. Follow the roadway (Spring Walk) round to the right, then turn left to go past a few more houses. Keep ahead on a tarmac path leading to the A26 and turn left to go under the railway bridge.
Immediately after the main road curves to the right past a garden centre, turn left at a footpath signpost onto Tunbridge Wells Common. For a straightforward route, follow this tarmac path into a wooded part of the common and then steeply uphill for about 100m; at a major path junction (with a byway on the left) take the right-hand of two footpaths off to the right.
- For a short cut you could fork right off the tarmac path where it enters the trees; this side path climbs less steeply and merges with the main footpath further on.
- Either way, follow the main footpath as it meanders through the woodland, roughly parallel with the A26 off to the right. At the end of the trees the path drops back down to the main road, with a mini-roundabout ahead.
- Cross the main road with great care in front of the roundabout and go down a flight of steps (Swan Passage) to the left of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel. At the bottom turn left onto an attractive walkway, The Pantiles.
Head north-east along The Pantiles and cross Nevill Street into Cumberland Walk, which leads into the High Street. At the far end go across Vale Road to the station.
- To complete the walk head NE along The Pantiles, which has several possible tea places. At the far end you pass the spa town's chalybeate spring shortly before emerging into Nevill Street. Cross over this main road at the traffic lights and go into Cumberland Walk opposite.
- In 20m turn left up some steps to an alley and keep ahead along the (initially pedestrianised) High Street. There are plenty more cafés, coffee shops and delis along this street: Juliets is on the left about halfway along, at #54.
At the far end of the High Street the main station entrance and ticket office is down to the left on the other side of Vale Road, along Station Approach. Most trains to London depart from Platform 1, on that side.
If you do not want to dodge the traffic on Vale Road you can reach the alternative station entrance in Mount Pleasant Road (straight ahead) via two sets of pedestrian traffic lights. There is an overhead walkway linking the two platforms.
- If you do not want to dodge the traffic on Vale Road you can reach the alternative station entrance in Mount Pleasant Road (straight ahead) via two sets of pedestrian traffic lights. There is an overhead walkway linking the two platforms.
- Calverley Grounds were originally the pleasure grounds of Mount Pleasant House, later the Calverley Hotel. They were purchased for the town in 1920. Near the main entrance there is a memorial to Lord Dowding, the commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain (1940).
- The present Tea House is a replica of one which burnt down in 1997. A concert pavilion and bandstand on the site were destroyed by an air raid in 1940.
- The Grove was originally a small wood which was placed into a Trust by the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 “to be preserved for the use of all inhabitants”. It has been managed by the local council on the same terms since 1890.
- The Nevill Crest is a bull with a crown around its neck. The family motto Ne vile Velis (‘never have evil thoughts’) incorporates their name, then spelt Nevile.
- 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.
- 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.
- St Alban, Frant was almost completely rebuilt in 1822 when the medieval church became uneconomic to repair. It has a particuarly fine August Gern organ.
- On Frant's Old School, the inscription Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it is from Proverbs 22:6.
- The unusual name Bells Yew Green is derived from the medieval French Bels Lieux (the ‘beautiful place’ being the nearby Bayham Abbey).
- The spacious parkland of Eridge Old Park was landscaped in the late 18thC by Henry Nevill, the 2nd Earl of Abergavenny, who built Eridge Castle in Strawberry Hill Gothic style.
- This man-made lake provided the water power for a 16thC iron foundry, part of the extensive Wealden iron industry.
- The Georgian style mansion of Eridge Park was built in the 1930s, replacing Henry Nevill's more exotic Eridge Castle.
- Holy Trinity, Eridge was built in 1851 as a Sunday School and consecrated five years later. It was completely refurbished in 1950 and has several features associated with the Abergavenny family.
- The Gun was a large cannon made from the local forge. The elaborate letter A's stand for [Earl of] Abergavenny.
- 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.
- 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”.
- The Spa Valley Railway began operating steam and diesel trains from Tunbridge Wells West in 1997, at first to Groombridge and then Eridge in 2011. The line had been closed by British Rail in 1985, some years after the Beeching Report.
- Eridge Stream and the River Grom are tributaries of the River Medway, joining the main river 2 km west of Groombridge.
- 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 line through Groombridge station used to carry trains to London, Three Bridges, Brighton and Eastbourne. The SVR platform 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 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.
- 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”.
- There is a fee to enter the grounds of High Rocks, where the sandstone outcrops have been linked by ornamental bridges.
» Last updated: May 18, 2022