November: Ightham Mote, Fairlawn and Underriver
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6.8 miles (3h 45m)
Map: Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ584536)
Park in the National Trust car park at Ightham Mote. The car park is open all year, dawn to dusk, whether or not the house is open. There is no charge for members (£2 for non-members at time of writing). There are toilets, but these are only open when the house and restaurant are open.
Leave the staff car park at the bottom past the restaurant and toilets. At the end, turn left along a path waymarked with red arrows. At the first junction follow the red arrows left uphill along the left hand edge of a field. At the top enter a wood; the red arrows go left but our route goes right. Follow the path through the wood to emerge through a gate onto a lane.
Bear right and cross the lane to a track opposite through a gate. Follow this track through trees and into an open field. Continue along right hand edge of field to track and turn right downhill through gate to road.
Take footpath opposite and go straight across the field past fenced avenue of trees on right and bear right to a post. Head for yellow post by a stile. Over the stile, maintain direction past another yellow post, noting the view of Fairlawne house on the right. Bear left to corner of field and take gate through fence into Fairlawne gardens. Go down to driveway and bear left, taking the lower of two branches of drive. Pass lake on right and go through gate into field. Follow left hand edge of field until fence turns left, when bear slightly right over footbridge. Go straight across next field between houses at top and through gap to right of first house. Follow lane into
Shipbourne (pronounced "Shibbun").
Turn right along Upper Green Road, making for the church. Cross main road and go through churchyard. Leave by kissing gate at far side and go down right hand edge of a field. Go straight across next field, making for corner of woodland protruding into it. At corner, enter woodland and bear right along broad track, climbing gradually. After 300m, path splits – bear left uphill and at the top bear right along broad grassy track that leads to stile into Mote Road.
Turn left but immediately bear left across green towards driveway. Take path between fence and hedge to right of Great Budds. After climbing stile into field, go straight across. When gravel track turns left on entering next field, carry straight on across the field to footbridge and stile into next field. Cross another field, making for some large barns. Go through gate to left of barns and follow right hand edge of field to corner, climb stile and turn right across grassy area towards wooden gate. Just before the gate, turn sharp left along path parallel to driveway. At junction of drives, bear right onto driveway and follow it down to a lane.
Turn right and then right again into Rooks Hill just in front of Absalom’s Farm. Climb Rooks Hill until it reaches woodland and there is a public footpath sign on the left. Carry on a few more metres to a public footpath sign on right and go through gate. Follow path initially between two fences but later in woodland. When you reach a junction of paths by a fine patch of blackberry bushes, turn left along path that climbs steeply, passing steps and bearing left to double back on previous route. Two thirds of the way up there is a seat offering fine views across the Weald. On leaving National Trust property, turn right past a barrier along a permissive path. When this reaches a broader track, go straight across past another barrier and follow the permissive path along the bottom of an open glade. Continue through woodland and on meeting a broader track at a corner, go straight ahead along it. When this reaches Mote Road, take the path through the gate opposite back into the Ightham Mote estate. On reaching the drive at the top, turn right into car park.
Estate The original moated manor on the site was called Fair Lane
and belonged in the 17th century to Sir Henry Vane the Younger. He
supported Parliament against Charles I in the Civil War, but opposed
the King's execution and fell out of favour with Cromwell. Despite
this, on the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II thought Vane’s
views on democratic reform dangerous and had him sentenced to death
on a charge of treason. Samuel Pepys, who watched the execution on
Tower Hill in June 1662, recorded that Vane "appeared the most
resolved man that ever died in that manner, and showed more of heat
than cowardize, but yet with humility and gravity". Vane is
buried in Shipbourne church.
the 20th century the estate was owned by Sir Peter Cazalet who
trained horses owned by the Queen Mother who was a regular overnight
visitor. The current owner is Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi
Arabia. In 2011 the Prince attempted to close a public footpath
across the estate but local residents rebelled and, supported by
local Ramblers, won an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to keep
present house was built in the early 18th century.
Giles' Church, Shipbourne
Our book of Ten
Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more
walks like this one. We also have a fine Guide
to the Kent Coast Path available for sale.
Ramblers' volunteers in
Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected
and maintained as possible. Of course we also organise led
walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply
want to support our footpath work. Please join
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If you find that the directions and map
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Map based on Ordnance
Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData