Octavia Hill Centenary Trail - views and nature
Celebrate the life of Octavia Hill (1838–1912) on a walk to the picturesque village of Ide Hill and her commemorative seat, passing Emmetts Garden on the way back.
Walk in the footsteps of our celebrated founder
Founder of the National Trust in 1895, Octavia Hill was a social reformer, philanthropist, artist and writer. A remarkable woman, her vision has led to her being a major influence on our lives today. Why not also download Octavia Hill centenary trail west, a 6-mile (9.6km) walk that can be done separately or together with this one, to make up a figure-of-eight trail. Please keep dogs on leads when in fields with livestock.
Toys Hill car park on Chart Lane, grid ref: TQ470517
In the top left-hand corner of the car park by the information panel, go up the steps in the direction of the arrow on the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail waymarker disc.
At a crossing track and waymark post turn left, go downhill through a wooden barrier and fork left to drop down to Puddledock Lane and a grass triangle with a seat. Turn right through the hamlet and soon reach a low stone wall on the left, with steps leading down to a covered well and a viewpoint with extensive views over the Weald of Kent.
Octavia Hill, who lived here in Toys Hill and is buried nearby at Crockham Hill, gave us one of our first properties in 1898. All that remains of this house in Toys Hill is the terrace with a sunken well. Since then, through the generosity of many different people, our ownership of Toys Hill has expanded to create an outstanding area of woodland for public access.
Retrace your steps and, keeping to the left of the grass triangle, cross to Scords Lane opposite. Continue along Scords Lane until the road bears to the right and a sign indicates Scords Farm down to the right. Directly ahead is a pathway signposted 'No roadway for vehicles - continue up this private road until reaching a metal National Trust sign for Scords Wood.
Bear left onto a footpath and immediately right onto a small footpath with a fence on the right. On reaching a wide track turn right and continue downhill. At a waymark post keep straight ahead on the small path marked Greensand Way to emerge via a squeeze stile into a field.
Turn left past a seat to follow the boundary of the wood. Ahead can be seen the spire of St Marys church at Ide Hill. At the corner of the wood bear slightly right to a gate and maintain direction down to the bottom right hand corner of the next field and a small footbridge over a stream.
Continue straight ahead up the next field and under power cables to the start of a dirt track. Follow this track through a metal kissing gate and past a solitary oak tree. Very soon go through another metal kissing gate on your right.
Passing between woods on the left and a field on the right, enter woodland. After an uphill section at a fork bear right and continue uphill. The path levels out at a junction of paths. Keep straight ahead to a stone seat commemorating Octavia Hill.
Octavia Hill memorial bench
The area of woodland at Ide Hill is one of the spaces saved by Octavia Hill for posterity. Octavia once said 'the poor should never be denied beauty' and certainly her commemorative seat affords a most beautiful view across the Weald. The inscription reads 'To the honoured memory of Octavia Hill who loving nature with a great love secured this view for the enjoyment of those who came after her'.
Return to the junction of paths and take the second on the right, just to the right of a waymark post. Soon cross an open space with seats on either side of the pathway and at the end turn left by another waymark post to follow a field fence. On reaching a drive turn left to come out to Ide Hill village green.
The church at Ide Hill was originally a small chapel which was erected as part of a personal project by the then Bishop of London, Porteus Beilby. Porteus was so worried about the lack of morals amongst the local residents that he donated a portion of his own land for the construction of the chapel and curate's dwelling. Part of Cox's Wood was granted as the churchyard for the chapel and further land was conveyed in 1852. By 1868 works were completed and Ide Hill finally had a church of its own which remains there to this day.
At the roundabout bear left onto Sundridge Road and, after the last house on the right, turn right onto a sign-posted footpath. Continue straight ahead to a gap in the hedge and then bear diagonally left across the field to a kissing gate in the hedge by a telegraph pole. Turn left onto a small lane and on reaching a T-junction turn right.
After approximately 250metres (or 270 yards) on the left next to South Lodge, take the sign-posted footpath onto a private drive. After some distance the drive passes between the north and south gardens of Emmetts Garden to arrive at the café.
Emmetts Garden was laid out in the 19th century as part of an Edwardian estate and the much loved home of Frederic Lubbock. It contains many exotic varieties of rare trees and shrubs from around the world and has stunning displays of spring flowers and autumn colours.
To continue, take the footpath next to the café and at the gate go straight ahead to a waymark post. Turn left onto a wide track. In a while, at a crossing track, continue straight.
At the next waymark post turn right uphill, shortly passing through a wooden gate. As the path levels out and at a waymark post turn left and follow this wide path for some distance.
At a junction of five paths continue straight ahead on the level, ignoring two paths on the left and one leading up on the right. Eventually, the path bears right and comes out to a road. Cross to Toys Hill car park.
If you wish to continue walking there is another walk - Octavia Hill trail west - that is 6 miles (allow 3 and a half hours) and includes her burial place at Crockham Hill, passing through the charming hamlets of Froghole and French street.
Toys Hill car park on Chart Lane, grid ref: TQ470517
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