Kent Ramblers: Walk 69



Support us

Contact Us

Path Problems

Ightham Mote, Fairlawne Estate & Underriver

Distance: 6.8 Miles (3h 45m)

OS Map: Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ584536)

Click map to enlarge and click again to enlarge further

Park in National Trust car park at Ightham Mote – open all year, dawn to dusk, whether or not house is open.  No charge for members (£3 for non-members at time of writing).  There are toilets, but these are only open when house and restaurant open.

Go past or through walled garden and leave staff car park at bottom past restaurant and toilets.  Turn left along path waymarked with red arrows.  At first junction follow red arrows left uphill along left hand edge of field.  At top enter wood; red arrows go left but our route goes right.  Follow up path through wood to emerge through gate onto road (A227).

Bear right and cross road to track opposite through gate.  Follow track through trees and into open field.  Continue along right hand edge of field to track and turn right downhill through gate to Plaxtol Lane.

Take footpath opposite and go straight across field past fenced avenue of trees on right and bear right to yellow post.  Bear right to another yellow post by stile.  Over stile, maintain direction past another yellow post, noting view of Fairlawne house on right.  Bear left to corner of field and take gate through fence into Fairlawne gardens.  Go down to driveway and bear left, taking 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 forward into Shipbourne (pronounced “Shibbun”).

Turn right along Upper Green Road, making for church.  Cross A227 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 at junction of paths take second left uphill and just beyond top bear right along broad track leading down to stile Mote Road.

Turn left but immediately bear right 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 gates/stiles to left of barns and climb along right hand edge of field to corner, climb stile and bear alongside fence towards wooden gate.  Just before gate, turn sharp left along driveway.  At junction of drives, bear right onto driveway and follow it down to Underriver House Road.

Turn right and then right again into Rooks Hill just in front of Absalom’s  Farm.  Climb Rooks Hill until you reach woodland and public footpath sign on left.  Carry on a few more metres to public footpath sign on right and go through gate.  Follow path initially between two fences but later in woodland.  At junction of paths by information board, turn left along path climbing steeply, passing steps and bearing left to double back on previous route.  Pass seats offering fine views across the Weald.  On leaving National Trust property past barrier, turn right along permissive path.  On reaching bridleway, go straight across past another barrier and follow permissive path along bottom of open glade.  Continue through woodland and, on meeting broader track at corner, go straight ahead along it.  On reaching Mote Road, take path opposite back into Ightham Mote estate.  On reaching drive at top, turn right into car park.

In addition to the walking routes on our web site we have published three popular walking guides:

Guide to Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk and other walks in the area

Guide to the Kent Coast Path: Part 1, Camber to Ramsgate

Guide to Three River Valley Walks in West Kent: Darent Valley Path, Eden Valley Walk and Medway Valley Walk


Points of Interest

Fairlawne 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.

In 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 it open.

The present house was built in the early 18th century.

Underriver House

The Queen Anne house was built in 1697 for Richard Goodhugh.  In 1790 the house was bought by the Woodgate family of nearby Riverhill House and by 1840 it was let to Charles Townsend who was visited by Samuel Palmer, a renowned landscape artist who from 1826 to 1835 was based at nearby Shoreham.  Palmer called the area around Underriver his “Golden Valley”, featuring in several of his paintings.  In 1976 music producer John Coletta bought the house where he entertained celebrity guests such as his friend Charlie Drake.  The house has since changed hands at least twice.

Stables at Absalom’s Farm

This Grade II listed building is on your left as you begin your ascent of Rooks Hill.  Low stone walls are topped by a brick layer, black weatherboarding and a hipped, tiled roof.  It is part of a group of listed buildings including a pair of oast houses, the farmhouse, a granary, a cowshed and a cobbled courtyard on the other side of the stables.

Public Transport

Start and finish the walk at Shipbourne and get a bus from Tonbridge or Borough Green.

Please report any problems with this walk to

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 us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

Map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2022.  Some paths on map are based on data provided by Kent County Council but do not constitute legal evidence of the line of a right of way