Knole deer park all-ability walk
Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RPRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Experience the history and wildlife of Kent’s only remaining deer park, which has remained substantially unchanged since medieval times. This walk has been produced with the permission of Lord Sackville.
- Bus stop
Start: Knole House front gate, grid ref: TQ542539
From the front gate of the house, facing out, turn left onto the drive. Don't stay on the drive, but follow the line of the wall, which becomes the garden wall after a short time. From the first corner of the wall you can see hundreds of ant hills in the valley. These are made by the yellow meadow ant; each hill is home to between 8,000 and 14,000 ants.
Knole House is owned by us, but most of the park and all the deer remain the property of the Sackville family who have lived at Knole for over 400 years. Much of the house was either built or modified by Thomas Sackville in 1603-1608, though the central buildings date back to the 15th century. Often said to be the largest private house in Britain, it houses the fullest collection of Royal Stuart furniture in the world, one of Englands two oldest portrait galleries and an extensive and very rare set of solid silver furniture.
Follow the line of the garden wall to the next corner, where there's a black corner grille. Carry on ahead but bear also to the right, on a wide grassy path; this is a spur of the Greensand Way.
Go along this path until it meets a road. This is called Broad Walk; the reason is obvious when you turn right onto it and look ahead. Soon afterwards, turn left onto another smaller road. Follow it past woods, two branching roads on the right and some views towards the golf course on the left.
Knole Park has been home to the same fallow deer herd since at least the 15th century and home to some Japanese sika deer since the 1890s. Please do not approach, pet or feed the deer: when they become tame, they are dangerous to visitors, particularly small children.
When you reach a road running across, turn right. This is Chestnut Walk, so named because of the sweet chestnut trees bordering it. This long walk was designed to be lined with tall, graceful trees. Unfortunately the sandy ground of Knole is rather unsuitable for this, and so the trees are of very different shapes and sizes. See if you can find a very wide, ancient oak pollard, which is considerably older than the Chestnut Walk. Walk along this path for some time until the landscape opens up and there is a junction with a similar road which joins from the right.
Turn right down this road; this is Broad Walk again. Continue until you arrive back at the Greensand Way and turn back towards the corner of the garden wall.
The Broad Walk area of the park was used to store army vehicles in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Few relics of this time survive, but a notable example is a tree with disused porcelain telegraph-wire insulators set into its bark. The valley running through the west of the park, now called the Gallops, was formed by a river in prehistoric times. In medieval and Tudor times it was used for show hunts; visitors would place bets on which hound would reach the end of the Gallops first. Today you may still come across horses here (please take care).
Return to the front of the house by the way you came, or turn right and go around the walls in the other direction (slightly more difficult for wheelchairs). If you turn right, beware of golfers: you'll be passing very close to a green.
End: Knole House front gate, grid ref: TQ542539
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 3 miles (5km)
- Time: 1 hour to 2 hours
- OS Map: Landranger 188; Explorer 147
A mixture of hard surfaces and concrete, with occasional stones and potholes. There are also short sections of short grass and bare earth. Paths climb and descend throughout the walk; gradients range from 1-in-7 to 1-in-20. Dogs welcome on a lead.
- How to get here:
By foot: the Greensand Way passes near front of house. Or, walk from Sevenoaks town centre along Webb’s Alley, following signposts marked ‘Knole Park’ on high street
By bus: Sevenoaks bus station 0.75 mile (1.2km). Then follow signposts for Knole Park
By train: Sevenoaks, 1.5 miles (2.4km). From here walk into town and reach the park via Webb’s Alley and follow signposts
By car: M25 exit J5 onto A21. Park entrance in Sevenoaks town centre off A225 Tonbridge road, opposite St Nicholas’s church
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