Knole to Ightham walk

Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The Knole wisteria in full bloom makes an unforgettable sight © Jonathan Sargant

The Knole wisteria in full bloom makes an unforgettable sight

Greensand Way disc marking the Knole to Ightham Mote trail © Jonathan Sargant

Greensand Way disc marking the Knole to Ightham Mote trail

The turning back to Greensand Way from Rooks Hill:step 3 © Jonathan Sargant

The turning back to Greensand Way from Rooks Hill:step 3

Signpost to One Tree Hill on the Knole to Ightham trail © Jonathan Sargant

Signpost to One Tree Hill on the Knole to Ightham trail

The main house with its charming beams is surrounded by a beautiful moat © Olly Hitchen

The main house with its charming beams is surrounded by a beautiful moat

This sweet chestnut tree is opposite Rooks Hill cottage: step 6 © Jonathan Sargant

This sweet chestnut tree is opposite Rooks Hill cottage: step 6

Shepherds Mead gate on the return route from Ightham Mote to Knole © Jonathan Sargant

Shepherds Mead gate on the return route from Ightham Mote to Knole

Kissing gate on the Greensand Way not far from the edge of Knole Park   © Jonathan Sargant

Kissing gate on the Greensand Way not far from the edge of Knole Park

Route overview

The Greensand Way links Knole and Ightham Mote by way of One Tree Hill, famous for its sweeping views over the Weald of Kent. The 4-mile (6.5km) route it takes is almost straight, taking perhaps an hour or two to walk. The way can be muddy, so bring appropriate footwear. A certain level of fitness is required, but the walk is not strenuous.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

A fairly easy walk from Knole to Ightham Mote and back
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Front of Knole house, grid ref: TQ542539

  1. Go out of the front gate of Knole House and turn left. Follow the wall round the corner, and as far as the next corner. Continue ahead and slightly to the right, following where the footpath sign points, until you reach a metalled path, like a small road (this is Broad Walk). Cross over onto another small road, which soon dips gently down. This presently comes out in a T-junction on a long road. Cross over onto a grassy path and continue ahead to a kissing gate. Pass out of the park and cross the road.

    Show/HideKnole

    As you walk round the Kentish ragstone walls look upwards as well to take in the irregular groups of octagonal brick chimneystacks from Henry VIII's time. The walls run for almost a mile and you'll be able to look through a couple of wrought-iron gates along the way. They date from the time of the 6th Earl of Dorset at the end of the 17th century and give you views into Lord Sackville's private 24-acre garden, which is open only on Tuesdays in the summer months.

    The Knole wisteria in full bloom makes an unforgettable sight © Jonathan Sargant
  2. Take the path through the woods straight ahead and bending a little to the left. Soon you come to a field full of horse-riding equipment. Skirt it to the right and climb over the stile. Then turn right onto a track downhill, and immediately left again by a gate, back onto the Greensand Way. Follow this path until you come out onto a road by a large house called Shepherds’ Mead.

    Greensand Way disc marking the Knole to Ightham Mote trail © Jonathan Sargant
  3. If you are happy with a slightly steeper walk over One Tree Hill, stay on the Greensand Way. Turn left up the road, and then right towards a National Trust signpost. Duck under the bar and walk through the woods, always following the Greensand Way and ignoring the many other paths. When you come to a viewpoint, take the path out to the left (away from the view) and then at each junction turn right until you reach some steps going very steeply down to a road. Turn right downhill. Soon afterwards, turn left. Alternatively, for a gentler route: from Shepherds' Mead, cross the road into the drive. Follow it as it turns into a path again and meanders along the edge of some woodland, with expansive views and a few houses to the south. When you come out on a road, turn left uphill, and then right back onto the Greensand Way.

    Show/HideA gentler route

    Turning back onto the Greensand Way from Rooks Hill (step 3).

    The turning back to Greensand Way from Rooks Hill:step 3 © Jonathan Sargant
  4. Now simply follow the path through woods and between fields. Few other paths branch off the Greensand Way at this point, so it is relatively easy to stick to the path. The sign for the Ightham Mote estate appears some time before you reach the house itself; when you reach a stony track, you still have almost half a mile to go.

    Show/HideOne Tree Hill

    Major changes in the character of One Tree Hill have taken place since we started caring for it in 1911. At that time, the area was much more open, with large areas of land worked as arable and pasture, with some tree cover. By 1987 it had become largely wooded, with some glades remaining. The storm of October 1987 blew down most of the trees, which have recovered very well, either from the stump or through natural regeneration.

    Signpost to One Tree Hill on the Knole to Ightham trail © Jonathan Sargant
  5. When you reach the Mote farm, follow the track past the buildings and onto a slightly bigger road. To reach the front of Ightham Mote itself, turn right and very soon left. Walk along the hedge at the back of the house, but do not enter by the little gate near the shop. Instead, carry on uphill and turn left into a car park. Follow the edge of the buildings round to the left until you reach the entrance.

    Show/HideIghtham Mote

    This romantic moated manor house, built nearly 700 years ago, has been owned by medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high-society Victorians. Highlights include a picturesque courtyard, great hall, crypt, Tudor-painted ceiling, and a Grade I listed dog kennel. It's surrounded by peaceful gardens with an orchard, water features, lakes and woodland. To check opening times: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote/

    The main house with its charming beams is surrounded by a beautiful moat © Olly Hitchen
  6. This section helps you to retrace your steps along the Greensand Way. If you have your own map, you may want to try an alternative. There are many possibilities. Go back along the hedge to the road, and right and left up past the farm. Follow the path, going straight ahead at both forks. For the gentler route, turn left and then right, where a stone marks the beginning of the path. Or for the steeper route, turn right, walk up One Tree Hill and then turn left, taking the steps at the base of the sweet chestnut tree (pictured) opposite Rooks Hill cottage.

    Show/HideSlightly steeper route

    This sweet chestnut tree is opposite Rooks Hill cottage (step 6).

    This sweet chestnut tree is opposite Rooks Hill cottage: step 6 © Jonathan Sargant
  7. Cross the road or go back down it a short way to Shepherds’ Mead. Go into the drive and down the footpath to the right of the gate.

    Shepherds Mead gate on the return route from Ightham Mote to Knole © Jonathan Sargant
  8. At the path which crosses in front of you, go to the right and then to the left over the stile. Keep left round the outside of the field and then go left into the woods. Cross the road and go through the kissing-gate back into Knole Park. Go straight ahead and then right at the second long road, and left back towards the house.

    Kissing gate on the Greensand Way not far from the edge of Knole Park   © Jonathan Sargant

End: Front of Knole house, grid ref: TQ542539

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 4 miles (6.5km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: OS Landranger 188, Explorer 147
  • Terrain:

    Gentle and level on paths for the most part, with options for a steeper walk open to those who wish to have a more challenging walk. Dogs welcome on a lead.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: The Greensand Way passes near the front of the house. Alternatively, walk from Sevenoaks town centre along Webb’s Alley, following any of the pedestrian signposts marked Knole Park on the high street
    By bus: From surrounding area to Sevenoaks bus station; ¾-mile (1.2km) walk following pedestrian signposts for Knole Park
    By train: From Sevenoaks station, walk 1½ miles (2.4km) into town and reach the park via Webb’s Alley (see ‘by foot’ above)
    By car: M25 exit J5 onto A21. Park entrance in Sevenoaks town centre off A225 Tonbridge road, opposite St Nicholas’s church

  • Facilities:

    • Car park, restaurant, shop and toilets at Knole House (only when open)
    • Guided park walks available most days during the open season. For more information contact us: 01732 462100 or check www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole/facilities-and-access

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