Bewl Water

Bewl Water, created in the 1970s, has naturalised superbly and now attracts innumerable wildfowl.


Bewl Water


2.5 miles (4kms)

108ft (33m)
1hr 30min

About the walk

This walk is unusual for Southeast England in following the shores of a huge, naturalistic reservoir, set in beautiful hilly Wealden countryside. This 770-acre (311ha) reservoir was formed by damming the upper reaches of the River Bewl just before it flows into Kent. Work started in 1973 and the reservoir, which was completed in 1975, was given a head start by receiving over 7 million gallons (31.8 million litres) of water to supplement the less fruitful River Bewl. Most of this extra water came from the River Medway, which is regularly used to top up Bewl Water. Flooding these valleys has, it is claimed, created the largest freshwater lake (artificial or natural) in England, as well as a foreshore over 17 miles (27km) long. The lake has rapidly become a noted venue for fly-fishing venues, as well as for sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and boat trips. Bikes and rowing boats can be hired from the visitor centre on the northern shore, and the waymarked ‘Round Bewl’ path is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. 

A nature haven 

The reservoir is much valued by locals and visitors as a landscape resource, and is managed carefully in conjunction with the Sussex Wildlife Trust as a refuge for wildlife. Some 3,000 species live on or around the water; parts are accordingly managed with restricted access as a nature reserve, Some areas of woodland include coppice, of which certain areas are felled each year, allowing other species to flourish, and permitting felled trees to reshoot. This encourages new growth as well as biodiversity. Other initiatives have featured grazing grassland with cattle, restoring ponds and laying hedges.

A Wealden village 

Ticehurst’s houses have many examples of the local vernacular, in the form of weatherboarding and tile-hanging. Tucked behind the main street, the church has a spacious interior and dates from the 14th century. Look out for the signature wooden mouse on the foot of the lectern, created in 1961 by renowned woodcarver ‘Mouseman’ Thompson from Kilburn in Yorkshire; a Sussex smock created by local women in 1938 and displayed in a frame; and a fragment of medieval stained glass to the left of the altar depicting a ‘doom’ – sinners being taken to hell.


Walk directions

Turn right out of the car park, follow Pickforde Lane to the main road in Ticehurst, and turn right through the village, keeping forward at the junction by the Bell pub in the Wadhurst/Tunbridge Wells direction. Just after house No 32 (Wisteria House), turn right on a path between houses. Keep in this direction, soon between fences. Eventually the path emerges into a field and goes forward along the left side of a field, then switches to the other side of the hedge (on the right side of the next field) when a distant oasthouse comes into view.

Drop into a small wood, and 100 yards (91m) later turn right at a T-junction of tracks, immediately bending left to enter the right-hand of two fields, up a grassy strip along the field-edge. Cross a lane to the driveway opposite, then as the driveway bends left to a weatherboarded house, go forward on an enclosed path between hedges. Turn right at a signpost at a path junction just a few paces before a corner of a track above you, on another path between hedges, past a summerhouse with a cockerel weather vane away to the left.

Turn left at a path T-junction with the edge of Bewl Water soon coming into view, now on the Round Bewl Water Walk. The well-trodden path runs close to the water, later passes a pair of oasthouses and beyond a small car park, reaches a T-junction with a lane that once crossed land where the reservoir now is. Turn right on this lane, through a barrier, immediately continuing to the left to regain views of the reservoir. The path enters woods.

At a junction with the Round Bewl Water Walk, signposted to the left through a gate, do not follow it (unless you want to shorten the walk) but go forward over a stile on a path skirting a peninsula, on the edge of the lake. This peninsula juts out into the reservoir, and looks over to the visitor centre, with the dam later coming into view. The path enters woods at a Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve sign. 

At the recess of the inlet, reach a footpath junction by a footbridge on your right. Don’t cross the bridge but turn left, through a gate. The path rises gently past Hazelhurst Farm and its garden on your left, to reach the concrete driveway to the farm. Turn right on this driveway, over a cattle grid and turn left at a track T-junction just before some houses at the edge of Three Legged Cross. Turn right on the road, past some weatherboarded cottages, then past the Bull pub on your right, where you keep left into Cross Lane. Turn left through Ticehurst village to return to the car park.

Additional information

Footpaths, tracks and a quiet road; several stiles

Farmland, reservoir, woodland

On a lead where livestock is grazing; not allowed to swim in reservoir

OS Explorer 136 High Weald & Royal Tunbridge Wells

Free car park in Pickforde Lane in centre of Ticehurst

In Ticehurst village centre

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