Walk 124: Rolvenden and Tenterden
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Distance: 7.8 Miles (3h 45m)
OS Map: Explorer 125 (Start at grid reference TQ844314)
Park in Rolvenden, in the main street or in a side street near the church.
Go north up the main A28 towards Tenterden and soon after Sparkeswood Avenue on the right take footpath AT36 on the left. Go up grassy track, through gate and across field to gate into narrow strip of woodland. Bear right across another field to pass to right of jutting woodland to two stiles. Cross next field diagonally to opposite corner. Continue in roughly the same direction aiming for a stile just to the left of the end of a narrow strip of woodland. Continue still in same direction diagonally downhill across field and pass through hedge onto track between fences. Bear right at T junction and follow track along left hand edges of field to lane.
Turn left across stream then right along bottom of field and half way up next side to gap. Through gap head straight across middle of field towards strip of woodland; keep to the right of this. Follow the top edge of next field and part way along the top of the next field go over stile on left. Follow bottom edge of this field to gateway just past oak tree then turn right along narrow field then a track down to main road.
Turn left, cross railway and opposite former watermill on left take concrete track over cattle grid on right. Before reaching another cattle grid and locked gates across track, go through gate on left. Go uphill and keep right until you enter next field then bear left to gate between farm buildings. Turn left then right past converted oasthouse along track to lane and bear left up to main road.
You can now turn right along main road into Tenterden then return to this point to continue the walk. Go back down lane and bear left past hospital entrance. At fork in lane, take path on left into hedge. Go through gate into field and turn right. Pass a path that goes directly across field and take a path bearing diagonally across field to stile some way to right of far corner. Turn left along edge of next field and over stile into another field. Follow right hand edge to footbridge, left to another footbridge then across small triangular field to railway crossing.
On the other side follow obvious track towards wind turbine. Bear right over ditch then along left hand bank of ditch ahead. Just after left hand bend, turn right across ditch and follow left hand bank of smaller ditch to junction of four paths. Go straight ahead, cross footbridge and rough ground to edge of cultivated field.
The path across the field may not be obvious. You need to be about 100 metres to the left of the ditch on your right. Then head straight across the field in a southerly direction climbing gently and as you cross the brow of the hill you should see a gap in the hedge. On the other side turn right uphill along right hand edge of field to buildings at Lower Woolwich. Bear left along track and soon after sharp right hand bend go over stile hidden in hedge on left.
Go slightly right of straight down field to hedge and turn right. On entering next field bear left up bank to gate and turn right along field edge. After a few metres at post bear diagonally left across field to gap in hedge and across corner of next field into narrow wood. Through wood turn right to corner then follow right hand edge field to top corner. Go through gap on right and head diagonally across another field to join track a cople of hundred metres to left corner by edge of pond. Turn right down track to lane.
Turn left to road junction then right along Frensham Road through village of Rolvenden Layne to next road junction. Bear right across Maytham Road to path. On entering field, bear left to kissing gate and take path between fences. At end of fenced in path go straight forward along right hand edge of field and through kissing gate at corner. After a few metres go through another kissing gate on right and take path through grounds of Great Maytham Hall.
On emerging again into the open, bear left across meadow towards church. Looking to the left you can see a water tower that was converted into a house and featured on TV’s Grand Designs. Go through churchyard back into Rolvenden village.
Tenterden has a charm all of its own. The broad high street is lined with properties that bear testimony to the town’s affluence from the wool trade. The variety of architectural styles blend well together and display the full range of building materials typical of the Weald – red brick and hanging tiles reflecting the iron content of the Wealden clay and white weatherboarding introduced when Scandinavian timber imports became cheap. The church in contrast is made from “Bethersden marble”, actually a local freshwater limestone found amongst the Wealden clay. The church tower is very ornate, supporting the legend that the tower caused the Goodwin Sands because money intended for coastal defences was diverted instead to building the tower.
In medieval times Tenterden was a corporate member of the Cinque Ports although the harbour itself was two miles to the south at Smallhythe on the Rother estuary but long ago silted up.
Great Maytham Hall
The present house was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1909. Author Frances Hodgson Burnett lived in the previous house on the site and the walled garden was said to be inspiration for her book The Secret Garden. The house is now converted into luxury flats.
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Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more
walks like this one.
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Map based on Ordnance
Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData
photograph by Robert Peel; Great Maytham photograph by Stephen Nunney
and is licensed for re-use under the Creative Commons Licensce.