The banks of Bewl Water

NEAREST LOCATION

Bewl Water

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

5.75 miles (9.2kms)

ASCENT
427ft (130m)
TIME
3hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
TQ711322

About the walk

There’s always something relaxing about walking near water, so this is a walk not to be rushed. It takes you right down to the banks of Bewl Water, a huge reservoir that forms the largest expanse of inland water in southeast England.

Straddling the Kent/Sussex border close to Lamberhurst in the heart of the High Weald, Bewl Water was created between 1973 and 1975 to supply the growing demand for water in the southeast of England. Its construction meant that a large area of woodland was cleared and several historic houses dismantled – and apparently rebuilt elsewhere. The Bewl was dammed and the surrounding valleys flooded. It took 6,886 million gallons (31,300 million litres) of water to fill the reservoir, which is enough to provide an average day’s usage (about 150 litres) to nearly 200 million people.

Bewl Water is a great place to bring children as there are plenty of activities for them to enjoy, including an adventure playground, a model boating lake, a mini quad bike arena, crazy golf and children’s fishing tuition; all located at the main Outdoor Centre on the water’s edge, south of Lamberhurst. The 12.5-mile (20.1km) ‘Round Reservoir Route’ is a good level path offering excellent walking, riding and mountain biking opportunities, with bike hire available from the Outdoor Centre. The Centre offers a wide range of water activities and courses covering sailing, canoeing and rowing in conjunction with the specialist clubs and associations based at Bewl. The reservoir is also one of the finest trout fisheries in the area, with fly fishing, boat and bank fishing available. The fishery record for rainbow trout is 18lb 10ozs (8.5kg) and for brown trout is 14lbs 10ozs (6.4kg). You can take trips on the Swallow passenger ferry around the reservoir, and cruises operate from Easter to September.

Bewl attracts a wide variety of bird life. Local birders come here to see great crested grebes, herons, Canada geese, wigeon, gadwall, tufted ducks, moorhens, coots and pochards. In the surrounding woods on this walk you might see a nuthatch. These perky little birds look rather like small woodpeckers. They have a cinnamon coloured chest, dove grey wings and a thick black line across their eyes. They can perform the rather nifty trick of walking down trees head first, and like to eat nuts such as acorns, hazel cobs and chestnuts.

Walk directions

From the car park, turn right and walk along the slip road to reach a large green barn. Turn left along the waymarked path just before the barn, soon to bear left into a field. Follow the hedgerow on the left, then, where it swings sharp left, carry straight on across the field, following the row of single trees down to the woods at the bottom. Cross a stile, go over a footbridge and follow the path ahead into the woodland. The footpath climbs steadily to reach a crossing of paths.

Turn right, following the path gently downhill through the trees and scrub. Cross a stile and sleeper bridge, then continue across a small field (can be boggy) to a plank bridge and follow the enclosed track ahead to reach a stile and the road. Go through the gate opposite.

You can now see Bewl Water. Follow the track, keeping the water on your right. Go through the trees and up to a grassy area. This is a good picnic spot. Continue following the lakeside path, looking out for a gate and bridleway on the left, signed ‘Rosemary Lane’. Immediately bear left up the bank into an open field, keeping left and follow the left-hand hedge of the next field to a gate. Walk up the track to join the road.

Turn right and follow the road uphill to reach the B2087. Turn right and walk down the road (can be busy – care needed) for 0.5 miles (800m), passing the entrance to Dale Hill Hotel and Golf Club and keep left where it forks on the edge of Ticehurst. Take the arrowed path on the left, just beyond The Coach House, and walk down the track to the golf course. Turn right along the hedgerow, pass behind a green and cross a stile. Turn left to reach another stile, then walk diagonally right across the field to a stile. Bear right uphill and cross two stiles to reach a road (B2099).

Keep to the road for 0.25 miles (400m) to Birchen Wood Oast, turn left and follow the track, going over a stile, past a conifer plantation and over another stile. Cross the field ahead, following the waymarker posts on the field-edge, bearing left in the next field to reach woodland and a junction of paths at a stile.

Cross the stile, descend steeply through the wood, cross a bridge and climb to reach the golf course on leaving the trees. Keep left and carefully follow the waymarkers across the fairway to reach a stile. Follow the enclosed path to reach a property called Quedley, then join the rough drive, following it uphill to the B2087.

Cross over and continue to follow this waymarked walk through woodland until you come to a junction of paths. Turn right and retrace your steps to the car park.

Additional information

Woodland paths, field-edges and farm tracks, many stiles

Fields, woods and an enormous stretch of water

Good, can run free in places – on lead across golf course

OS Explorer 136 The Weald, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Car park on A21, north of Flimwell – closes at 4pm and charges can apply

At car park

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WALKING IN SAFETY

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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About the area

Discover Kent

The White Cliffs of Dover are an English icon – the epitome of our island heritage and sense of nationhood. They also mark the point where the Kent Downs AONB, that great arc of chalk downland stretching from the Surrey Hills and sometimes known as ‘the Garden of England’, finally reaches the sea. This is a well-ordered and settled landscape, where chalk and greensand escarpments look down into the wooded Weald to the south.

Many historic parklands, including Knole Park and Sir Winston Churchill’s red-brick former home at Chartwell, are also worth visiting. Attractive settlements such as Charing, site of Archbishop Cranmer’s Tudor palace, and Chilham, with its magnificent half-timbered buildings and 17th-century castle built on a Norman site, can be found on the Pilgrim’s Way, the traditional route for Canterbury-bound pilgrims in the Middle Ages. 

In the nature reserves, such as the traditionally coppiced woodlands of Denge Wood and Earley Wood, and the ancient fine chalk woodland of Yockletts Bank high on the North Downs near Ashford, it is still possible to experience the atmosphere of wilderness that must have been felt by the earliest travellers along this ancient ridgeway.

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