Dene Park - Gover Hill - Old Soar Manor - Dene Park

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This walk was originally compiled by Alan and Janet Love, sadly both are no longer with us. Alison Gilbert has kindly offered to take them over. Alison and Walkingworld would like all these excellent walks to remain as a continuing tribute to Alan and Janet.

We start our walk at Dene Park, in the Middle Ages part of the hunting chase of North Frith belonging to the Clare Family of Tonbridge Castle. A boundary stone which we will pass on the walk marks the meeting point of the three parishes of Shipbourne, Hadlow and West Peckham.

The path runs along the top of an earth bank 6ft high in places, which marked the old boundary between Clare lands and lands belonging to the King. In medieval times an oak paling fence ran along the top of the bank, making a substantial boundary marker, also helping to keep deer within the chase. Clearhedges Wood, a corruption of 'Clare' hedges, is an example of early boundary definition.

We traverse woods and meadows, ascending through the old deer park of Oxen Hoath manor. The present house is by the architect Slavin (1846). The house and grounds are very picturesque and we walk up a lovely cedar-lined drive to pass in front of the house. We follow an enclosed fenced path up between orchards to emerge at Gover Hill. On the opposite side of the road is a track leading up to a marvellous viewpoint at 500ft, which gives magnificent views over the Bourne Valley, all courtesy of the National Trust who own and manage the woodland.

We continue our walk by descending Roughway Lane until we reach Rats Castle, which is a 15th-century house that had its timber frame encased in local ragstone, brick and tile in the 17th Century by Stephen Chilman, whose initials are on the gable. In the 19th Century it decayed and its uncomplimentary name was given to it by workmen who lived there while they did building work on the nearby mansion of Hamptons. Old Soar Manor, a NT property, is the remains of a late 13th Century knight's dwelling, all that is left of the manor-house of c1290 which stood here until the 18th Century. The solar chamber over a barrel-vaulted undercroft was once inhabited by a medieval knight. Every road crossing of the Bourne was once the site of a mill for corn or latterly, for paper. Roughway Mill was connected with the paper industry. This is an altogether delightful walk with many variations.

England - South England - Kent - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Wildlife, Woodland
11/05/2014 - keith spurin

Did this walk today. A very pleasant enjoyable walk with stunning views picturesque scenery and quaint pretty meadows. Navigation was good with no problems pictures a great help. At waypoint 13 diverted right to the Swan pub in West Peckham. Worth a visit. Situated next to church on village green. Easily found way back to route. At top of Gove Hill take the time to visit NT viewpoint. What a view. A picture a must. A stunning great walk that pretty much has it all.

09/01/2012 - Steven Cropper

Did this walk yesterday and very pleasant it is too! At waypoint 5, the directions do not seem that clear: this is what they say "Go through the gap, turn left and follow the track between the wood and the edge of the field to another gap at the end of the wood". We found ourselves off the trail when we turned left as the wood quickly peters out and you are facing an open meadow. We back-tracked to the gap at point 5 and we believe the route is to go just slightly left and follow the track across the field.

17/10/2010 - Sid Marks

A very pleasant walk, I thoroughly enjoyed it. At waymark 20 there is no orchard gate. As you go through the 1st gateway, with just a post remaining, head half right and our path is about 20 yards on the left. The Kentish Rifleman closes at 3 o'clock on Saturday, but reopens at 6 o'clock, serving food at 7.

27/05/2010 - Judy Brua

25 May 2010 - walked this again today, it is still a great walk. Try the Kentish Rifleman pub in Dunk's Green for some very good food, and only about another half hour of the walk left after lunch!

26/05/2010 - Adrian Perkins

Many thanks to Judy Brua for her updates for this walk. May 2010. Adrian (Admin).

28/06/2009 - Judy Brua

Very enjoyable walk, lots of variation and the historical info is good too. Got a bit confused at Waymark 20, no obvious gateway with 'Sedgebrook' there, nor any gate into an orchard. But if you just keep straight on the most obvious path and don't take the half right, you end up at the right place anyway.

11/03/2007 - Jeremy Moon

Excellent walk through lovely Kentish countryside makes you realize what a wonderful part of the world we live in. Will try this walk in April should have lots of bluebells to see and smell!! Thank you Alan and Janet

25/01/2007 - trevor saunders

A well written and easy to follow route. We enjoyed the interesting historical notes. Some of the stiles on this walk are broken and wobbly, take care!

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26.1 Miles