Knole to Ightham walk
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.
Front of Knole house, grid ref: TQ542539
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 metaled 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.
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.
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.
If you're 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.
A gentler route
Turning back onto the Greensand Way from Rooks Hill (step 3).
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.
One 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.
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.
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/
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.
Slightly steeper route
This sweet chestnut tree is opposite Rooks Hill cottage (step 6).
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.
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.
Front of Knole house, grid ref: TQ542539
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