Dog Friendly Walks

Dog Friendly Walks : Shipbourne, Knole Park and Ightham Mote (Kent) (13 moderate)

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  • Map - Explorer 147
  • Distance - About 13 miles
  • Stiles - About 10, mostly with dog paddles or otherwise dog friendly but Hamish had to squeeze under one and through another (the latter would have been difficult for a large, less agile dog)
  • Date walked - St George's Day (23.4.04)

Hamish arrived for the walk by car. We parked on Shipbourne Common a couple of hundred metres up the road opposite the church at GPS grid reference TQ 5938 5224. The Greensand Way runs along this road. Start along the road away from the church. Pass a left hand fork towards the village hall. As the road bends right look for the footpath on the left hand side, more-or-less on the bend, to the left of 1 New Cottage. TURN LEFT onto this sign-posted footpath. Continue ahead to pass the cottage then through a kissing gate. Keep to the right hand side of the field towards farm buildings.

CONTINUE AHEAD to pass the farm buildings (Fairlawn Home Farm) on your left hand side and join a metalled drive. Pass two cattle grids to reach a road. CONTINUE AHEAD across the road into a field via a stile. Hamish squeezed under the stile but there was also some room under the gate by its side and between the gate post and hedge. CONTINUE AHEAD across the field (it had rape seed in it when we crossed but the farmer has kept a good clear path) still the Greensand Way . Cross stile into wood full of bluebells when we walked. Hamish made use of a good dog paddle beside the stile.

There are four paths as you cross the stile - one hard left, one hard right, one diagonally right and one diagonally left. TAKE THE DIAGONALLY LEFT path - note a yellow arrow marker on a tree to the left hand side of the path. Follow the path downhill through the wood to reach a stile. CROSS THE STILE into a field (plenty of room for Hamish through the fence). Note two footpath markers on the stile and two footpaths across the field. TAKE the RIGHT HAND footpath (still the Greensand Way ) as it forks across the field.

CROSS STILE at far side of field. Hamish scrambled through this stile with some difficulty. He's not the most nimble of dogs so many others would have found this easy - on the other hand a big dog would have needed help (this is the most difficult stile on this walk). The stile probably marks an old boundary or crossing point as it has what appears to be an old stone at its heart. Cross field then pass through a kissing gate to reach a metalled lane.

TURN LEFT along lane then RIGHT into Roughway Lane . Follow lane around bend and across bridge over the River Bourne (only a stream when we walked). Pass houses high on bank on your right hand side. One house had a beautiful display of aubrietia and another of primroses. Continue ahead to pass Greensand Way path (on right), around a left hand bend then uphill to the start of a right hand bend. Just before a building and a stone wall in front of it look for a wooden footpath finger post sign.

TURN LEFT onto the footpath through a gate into an orchard. Continue ahead with farm buildings on your right. Near the end of the buildings - with an oast on your right - continue ahead (don't take the footpath signed to the left). Keep to the main track close to an evergreen hedge on your right hand side at first. When we walked three Buzzards were circling the orchard - in our experience a rare sight in Kent ! Follow the track across the orchard to reach a cross tracks.

TURN LEFT on the track downhill to reach a metalled lane at GPS grid reference TQ 6183 5352. TURN LEFT downhill into Allens Lane . At T Junction TURN RIGHT into Brook Lane towards Plaxtol. Continue ahead over the River Bourne near the edge of the village to reach a cross roads with a half-timbered house on the left. TURN RIGHT signposted to Crouch (away from the house). Just before leaving the village - and the end of speed limit sign - TURN LEFT into Dux Hill. CONTINUE AHEAD as Dux Lane joins from the right. BEAR LEFT, still on Dux Hill, as Bourne Lane joins from the right.

TURN RIGHT into Yopps Green when you reach it at a T-Junction. There's a convenient bench in the small green here for those who'd like to take a breather (after the last up-hill section). After about 50 metres, just after a house named Little Damas and almost opposite another named White Beam, TURN LEFT onto a bridleway marked with a concrete sign. Continue ahead through an orchard as you reach it (good views again on the right). Continue ahead as a footpath leaves on the right just before a fence marking the edge of Fairlawn Estate. Views open on the left as you continue ahead into a field. BEAR RIGHT as the path approaches a fence keeping the fence and a ribbon of woodland on you left hand side (i.e. don't continue more-or less ahead by crossing a stile). Continue ahead under power cables and then onto a clearly defined track into wooded area. Continue through a gate to reach the A227 road.

CROSS WITH CARE to lesser road signed to Ivy Hatch and Sevenoaks. Keep to the LEFT HAND side of the road and use the footpath just off the road through the tree line (i.e. running more-or-less parallel with the lane and emerging almost at the junction). Continue ahead on the path until it joins the lane at the edge of Ivy Hatch. Continue with care on the metalled road to reach a multiple road junction with a small green and pillar box in its middle. Continue ahead towards Ightam and Seal. TURN RIGHT into a lane forking right before a pub ( Ismays Road ). Continue ahead along lane for several hundred metres.

TURN LEFT onto a footpath marked by a finger post and concrete marker just after a property named High Pines. Continue ahead on footpath (don't get tempted by gates into private fields) over a metalled drive through a market garden area. Pass through a gate to reach a metalled lane. CROSS LANE directly ahead onto a footpath. TURN RIGHT when you reach a metalled lane. TURN RIGHT again at the first road junction into Pine Tree Lane . After about 20 metres, between the first and second houses, TURN LEFT onto a bridleway marked by a concrete marker.

Continue ahead as the path gradually climbs. Some of this section was pretty muddy. Gaiters would be an advantage here in the winter or if there's been a lot of rain! Bridleways are good for their lack of stiles but are often churned up by the horses that use them - the sunken sections of this route suffer from this. As the path levels out there is space to avoid the mud, especially on small paths to the left, but don't stray beyond sight of the main bridleway. There are lots of trees blown over, presumably in the Great Storm of '87. Many still have their root balls in the ground but main trunks close to the ground. The side branches now grow up towards the light. Stay on the top of the ridge and continue ahead as a footpath turns half right off it. There's a fence on the left here with private property signs. The old quarry is below. There are various opportunities as you continue to climb onto the high points on the left of the path to look over the quarry and view beyond. After several hundred metres the path starts to descend. CONTINUE AHEAD, ignoring a track and gate on the right hand side, to reach a metalled road. CONTINUE AHEAD (i.e. turn right on the road) to pass a school and St Lawrence Church.

After about 80 metres the road bears right CONTINUE AHEAD on a bridleway marked with a green and white arrow marker. CONTINUE AHEAD - do not take the public footpath immediately on the left as you re-enter the wood. The bridleway was muddy when we walked but this was easily avoided by keeping to the left hand side on minor paths. Again you will need to stay on top of the ridge and to keep the bridleway in sight. After several hundred metres pass a path joining from the right opposite a marker post with a badly damaged sign. Shortly after this TURN LEFT onto a path leaving the ridge via a sunken way. The marker post for this path was a little better preserved when we walked (TQ 5690 5552).

Follow the path down to a fence line. Just before the fence there are footpaths marked left and right. TURN RIGHT and follow the path down to a metalled lane - keeping close to the fence (with a house beyond) at first. CROSS DIRECTLY OVER the lane onto an unmarked footpath opposite. Pass a large Beech tree almost at once then, at a second Beech, TURN LEFT downhill onto another path. The second Beech marks a cross paths - a yellow arrow marker points right uphill . but you need to go in the opposite direction - hard left downhill.

Follow the path down through the wood, ignoring all cross paths, to reach a metalled lane. TURN RIGHT along the lane - although a small country lane this had a little more traffic on it when we walked so take care as there is no footpath. As the road bears hard right by a chevron sign and Hall Place on the left TURN LEFT onto a footpath via a kissing gate. Keep close the left hand side of the field by a post and rail fence at first then a stone wall. Exit the field via a track into Hanger Wood (more bluebells!). Follow the track / path down at first then uphill as it bears left. Keep to the path as it passes fields and buildings on your right hand side then besides a metal five bar gate onto a semi made track. CONTINUE AHEAD to reach the green at Godden Green. Cross the green aiming just to the right of the pub opposite (TQ 5535 5513).

CONTINUE AHEAD on a footpath marked with a concrete sign between the pub and a pillar box (immediately to the left of the pillar box). Continue ahead through a gate marked The Old Stables, then through another gate to cross a metalled lane where there are a few houses and bungalows. Continue ahead on the path marked by a concrete signs to reach a T Junction with a more major path. TURN LEFT on the path and follow it for several hundred metres to reach a large gate at the edge of Knole Park .

Pass through the side gate (left hand side) then CONTINUE AHEAD on the track across the golf course. The park will be full of deer so you will probably need to keep your dog under close control - if not on a lead (Hamish was very interested in the deer so was on the lead the whole time). Keep to the main track as it bears left through an avenue of trees towards Knole House.

As you reach the house and its walls TURN RIGHT then LEFT between the house and a car park. Keep close to the house and pass the main entrance. Leave the made up drive just in front of the main entrance and stick close to the wall. At the end of the wall TURN LEFT, still keeping close to the wall as it turns. There are a couple of breaks in the wall - through the railings at the first of these a good view of the house can be seen.

CONTINUE AHEAD to the end of the wall then FOLLOW THE GREENSAND WAY MARKER heading SLIGHTLY RIGHT away from the wall. This is a fairly clear path and heads towards another path that runs more-or-less parallel to the wall. Our path soon crosses this second path. CONTINUE AHEAD then cross a driveway to follow a tarmac path continuing in broadly the same direction.

Follow this path for some distance ignoring all side paths and tracks. You will pass close to the golf course again on your left hand side. As you reach a T Junction with another tarmac path / drive CONTINUE AHEAD onto a green footpath towards a gate in the deer fencing. Pass through the gate onto a metalled lane.

CROSS DIRECTLY AHEAD onto a footpath marked as the Greensand Way into a wood. Cross a dog friendly stile out of wood into a field use for horse jumping etc. Follow the field as it bears round to the left - don't go through the gap in the fence into the next field ahead (though you may wish to look through the gap at the views!). Continue past the next few horse jumps (numbered 17 and 18 when we were here), then over a stile by a metal gate just past the finish (lots of dog space by the stile).

CROSS A TRACK to reach a footpath ALMOST OPPOSITE BUT SLIGHTLY RIGHT. Follow the path with woods on your left (more bluebells!) and field - with good views beyond - on your right. Cross a metalled lane into a 'no through road' almost opposite. This is not the Greensand Way - it is a marked footpath and is signposted to White Rocks Boarding Kennel. FORK LEFT after a couple of hundred metres or so towards White Rocks Farm and Kennel. CONTINUE AHEAD onto a footpath just as you pass the drive to the house. You may receive a warm welcome from the canine guests as you pass the kennel block! Follow the path as it bends left along a fence-line, then continue on through the woods.

TURN LEFT, uphill, on metalled lane for 20 metres or so before TURNING RIGHT onto the Greensand Way footpath. Cross a stile to proceed along the path - good dog paddle to left hand side. Continue ahead with woods on left and field with views beyond on your right. Ahead over another stile with a dog paddle on its left. The hedge on the left was full of rhododendrons - but they weren't in bloom when we walked. Ahead over another stile with a dog paddle into National Trust land 'Ightham Mote'. Follow the path through the wood passing several mossy boulders, continuing ahead on Greensand Way when footpath joins from left. Follow the path through a bend and down a few steps to reach a track by a house.

TURN LEFT onto the track to pass in front of the house - passing a covered well-head on the way. CONTINUE AHEAD on the track (don't take the footpath on the right opposite the house). Ahead through a metal gate, still on the Greensand Way , as another track joins from the left. Follow the track for some distance to reach a farm with an impressive triple stone build oast on your right. TURN LEFT by the farm's main entrance still following the Greensand Way . TURN RIGHT at the lane T Junction to quickly pass a red brick built barn on your right hand side.

Almost at once you reach the gateway to Ightham Mote on your left. TURN LEFT through the gate towards the house - now following a bridleway NOT the Greensand Way . Follow the tarmac drive as it BEARS RIGHT in front of this very impressive old house. Continue on the drive as it passes the National Trust shop then a car park - both on your left hand side. CONTINUE AHEAD as the drive becomes a track past the car park. You should soon see a double stone built oast a short distance across the field to your left. CONTINUE AHEAD as a track joins from the left hand side (marked as the National Trust red route). You are now leaving the National Trust's land.

At wooden five bar gate, with a stile on its left hand side, TURN RIGHT along a field edge (you will see Fairlawne House ahead just beyond a road as you go through the gate). CONTINUE AHEAD through a gate (don't take the cross track). CONTINUE AHEAD through next gate - or use the stile if the gate is closed. Keep close to hedge on your right hand side then downhill towards the cricket ground.

KEEP MORE OR LESS STRAIGHT AHEAD at the bottom of the hill to pass the cricket pavilion and ground on your left hand side. You should cross a small stream as the track goes behind the ground, then keep it on your left hand side. Follow the track through a 'S' bend along the other side of the cricket ground - then away from it keeping a hedge on your left hand side. At the end of the hedge, just as you cross another small stream, CONTINUE AHEAD on the track - do not cross a stile on your left hand side even though this is the official footpath. This alternative path avoids a couple of stiles and is easy to follow. Keep close to the hedge on your left hand side. Keep close to the fence as it turns towards Shipbourne Church tower - note footpath re-joining via a stile on your left hand side. TURN RIGHT along the fence line - marked as an alternative foot path - as the official path goes into a field via a dog unfriendly stile. Keep the hedge on your left until you reach a gap. TURN LEFT through the gap in the hedge directly towards Shipbourne Church .

Enter churchyard via kissing gate. Follow gravel path around left side of church. Keep close to the church as the path forks, then leave via a lych-gate. CROSS directly over A227 road into Upper Green Road . You should find your start just along the Common!

Copyright Dogpeople Limited 2004.

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