Ightham Mote's walk to Shipbourne and Fairlawne
This Ightham Mote circular walk begins with a wander through ancient Scathes Wood, before taking in some wonderful views of the Kentish countryside on the way to the neighbouring estate of Fairlawne and on to Shipbourne.
Ightham Mote visitor reception, grid ref: TQ584535
Exit the walled car park by the Restaurant and follow the road at the rear of the Restaurant, through the staff car park, to turn right onto the bridleway. Proceed past the house and up to Mote Road. Turn left and follow the road down a short distance to a gate and stile on the left to a stile with a Greensand Way marker. Cross the stile to walk around the edge of the field, with the hedgerow on the right, through a gap in the hedge then on up a slope - now with the hedge on the left - to a stile. Cross the stile onto a wide enclosed path through a wood to cross another stile into a field. Continue on down a slope in the field to a yellow painted pole. Then turn left to follow the hedgerow down to another yellow pole at a track. At the yellow pole, cross the track half right to cross a stile into a field on the left, still following the Greensand Way turning half right towards a fenced hedgerow a short distance away with a footpath sign. Carry on, now with the fenced hedgerow on the left to a stile ahead, enclosed within a wide fenced entrance. Cross the stile and a second stile a few paces ahead. Turn left to again follow a fenced hedgerow, cross a driveway twice before reaching the rear of St Giles church.
Ightham Mote is an outstanding 14th-century moated manor house, surrounded by peaceful gardens and water features. Highlights include the Grade I listed dog kennel, Great Hall, Tudor painted ceiling and the private apartments of the donor, Charles Henry Robinson.
Cross the stile and turn left through the kissing gate into the churchyard and follow the path round the left-hand side of the church to exit through the gateway and on down to the busy A227 Tonbridge Road. Cross the road and follow the road ahead crossing Shipbourne Common, past tennis courts on the left, then turn left down a side road towards the village hall and houses, now leaving the Greensand Way. Walk ahead by a converted oast house on the left as the road bears right, enter the marked footpath between the houses and proceed down to a field (Fairlawne estate). Follow the path downhill across the field to a footbridge across a stream, then over a stile into another field.
The present church of St Giles was built by Edward Cazalet of Fairlawne and openend in 1881
Upon entering the main part of the Fairlawne estate, please adhere strictly to the marked footpaths and various notices, keeping dogs on a lead (if in doubt, follow the yellow painted poles). Having crossed the stile, walk on ahead with wire fencing on the right towards timber fencing and a gate leading into Fairlawne Gardens. Carry on ahead and follow the road past a timber building on the left with a flint and brick building beyond. Walk on ahead, keeping to the road, and just beyond a private entrance turn right up the grass bank to a timber gate, noting the footpath sign. Pass through the gate walking up hill towards a yellow pole, at which point Fairlawne House (Not NT) comes into view. At the yellow pole there is a cross path, but continue on ahead bearing diagonally away from the house towards timber fencing, a yellow pole and a stile. Cross the stile and follow the path ahead towards a tree, then continue on up hill to yet another yellow pole, bearing right around an enclosed brick and iron gateway. Continue on turning half left towards the stone wall boundary and a stile at the Plaxtol Lane.
Fairlawne House (Not NT)
The house was built about 300 years ago by Sir Henry Vane, Secretary of State to Charles I. Currently owned by a Saudi-Arabian Prince, the Fairlawne Estate has previously belonged to Major Peter Cazalet who trained race horses for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Cross the stile and cross the road to enter a gravel drive with a kissing gate ahead. Pass through the kissing gate and turn left to follow a tree line on the left, initially uphill. Continue along this path, ignoring paths to the right, to reach a five-bar gate and pedestrian gate leading to a track down to the A227 Tonbridge Road. Cross the road to a gate leading onto a woodland path (bridleway). Follow this path down to a clearing on the left with a view back towards Shipbourne, bear right and continue down on a narrower path and just before this path turns left towards a field, turn right onto a short path and stile, with a National Trust sign. Cross the stile into Scathes Wood and re-join the Ightham Mote estate.
The wood is bounded by a circular footpath so having crossed the stile there is a choice of turning left or right, with both paths leading back to the main entrance drive of Ightham Mote. (If you turn left, follow the red walk markers; if you turn right, follow the black walk markers.) Having reached the entrance drive turn left and proceed down to the car park to complete the walk.
Still known locally as Scats Wood, it consists mainly of sweet chestnut, with some oak. In early spring, there is a magnificent display of bluebells.
Ightham Mote visitor reception, grid ref: TQ584535
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