Dry Hill to Boarshead

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Waystrode Manor © Neil Clifton
Church of Mary Magdalen, Cowden © Oast House Archive
Derelict Oast House at Nore Farm © Oast House Archive

From the attractive village of Cowden, the route follows the border closely, along the banks of Kent Water. After crossing the Medway Valley near Ashurst, field paths traverse the first of the many undulating hills and valleys which characterise the landscape of the High Weald.

This is a trail in the Sussex Border Path collection of trails. Together they describe the full length of this long distance footpath.

On reaching road at GR 383348, turn left. Soon after passing entrance of drive to 'Old Surrey Hall' on left and cottage on right, turn right into drive to 'Bidbury' and, immediately, go ahead through field gate. Pass to right of barn/stables and, in 50 yards, go ahead over stile. Descend with plantation on right at first. In a few yards, where plantation ends, keep straight on, passing to left of pit and pond. Immediately beyond pond, turn right over stile and cross field to join drive over stile near far field corner. Turn right along drive and, after 70 yards, go left over stile and follow headland path with stream and belt of woodland on right. At field corner go over a stile and along woodland track, crossing minor stream (currently unbridged). Leave wood and climb between fence and hedge. Pass between buildings at 'Old Lodge Farm' to T-junction with drive and turn right.

At 'Dry Hill House', go right and left between buildings and continue east on wide track. Just after entering woodland, bear right along clear track. After a quarter mile (GR 436418), fork left along track through conifer plantation and then with wood on right, large field to left and good views northwards. A few yards after track bends left, turn right through wood and then along right field edge with wood on right. Through bridle gate out into field corner, veer half left across field to stile in corner and along left edge of next field. In field corner go through metal swing gate, across track, through similar gate and on along woodland path. Follow path through wood, passing swampy pond on right. Path comes out to corner of next field. Turn right and follow edge of field. At corner, turn left and continue along right field edge with woodland on right. Ignore first gate on right, continuing along right field edge. In field corner at GR 448409, go over stile beside gate and head SE along left field edge. In next field corner, cross stile to left of gate and descend along right field edge. In field corner, go over stile, pass to right of dilapidated building and keep near left edge of field. In corner, turn left through wood. Just short of gate at far side of wood, turn right and, once out into open, head diagonally across field. Go through gap and head squarely across next field. Enter woodland, cross footbridge and climb along narrow woodland path, ignoring signed path to left. At top of wood, go through gate to join and follow drive from 'Weystrode Manor'. At road (GR 461407) bear right into Cowden village.

At road junction, turn left and, just short of church, turn right along metalled drive beside churchyard wall. After 60 yards, fork right. Cross drive, follow enclosed path to stile, then pass to left of golf course green to cross footbridge over Kent Water on county boundary. Go forward past 15th tee for 60 yards to reach waypost where, turn left across golf course At second waypost, go straight ahead to find stile in crossing hedge. Maintain direction across two more fields, join drive and, ignoring footbridge ahead, turn left across wide bridge over Kent Water and bear half right across meadow, converging on and following left edge to stile in corner. Continue in same direction across next field, with Kent Water nearby on right, to join B 2026 at GR 474404. Turn right back over county boundary and, after 30 yards go left over stile, through private parking area and on through area churned up by horses, crossing three more stiles. After fourth stile, bear left over footbridge, re-crossing Kent Water, and turn right along right edge of three successive fields with stream on right. Cross substantial footbridge and, disregarding second, similar, bridge on left, go ahead over stile and along left field edge, back in Sussex. In field corner go ahead along path with fence on right and stream on left. Where enclosed path ends after two more footbridges, go ahead across meadow to another footbridge in far left corner. Follow left edge of next field until you can go left beneath railway and head half right across field beyond, joining and following left edge of this and next field with stream now on left again. A few yards into third field, turn left over new footbridge and immediately right along valley, never far from stream, through several fields to join lane at GR 501405.

Turn right for 10 yards then left along valley, once more near stream, passing through fields and crossing a finger of golf course. Soon after passing beneath power lines, cross footbridge and turn right along right field edge. After 70 yards, go right over footbridge and climb across field heading for farm on skyline (field may be ploughed and planted). Follow track straight ahead between buildings at Willett's Farm (home-made ice cream available from farm shop). About 100 yards beyond last building, turn sharply left off drive across field. Pass to left of pond and, at far end of field, go through wide gap and forward to join River Medway on left. Path squeezes between river on left and small wood on right and continues along river bank. Pass with river beneath railway bridge and continue along left field edge to join A264 at GR 505389.

Turn left beside road , over Medway and back under railway. Take second turning on right, signed to Ashurst Station. Pass station on right and follow access drive ahead, signed as 'No Through Road'. At T-junction turn left along hedged path and, at second junction, go right along tree-lined track and subsequent left edge of two fields. At solid oak waypost, turn right for 150 yards to gate and bridge under railway, now using path shared by SBP and Wealdway. Beyond railway, bear half left across field to footbridge, then half right across next field. On other side of field, turn left along unfenced grass track, following it past house and garden at Ham Farm on left, to reach road (GR 515370). Turn left.

After 250 yards, go right over stile and cross field corner to second stile and steps leading up to Forest Way on old railway. Cross railway track bed to follow path opposite down more steps, over stile and left along valley, walking parallel to stream on right. Join B2188 via squeeze stile and turn left. After 100 yards, go right over stile and veer slightly left across meadow. After 250 yards, go over stile in left field boundary and bear right along hard-surfaced path, under railway bridge and on to join road. Turn right. After 100 yards, go right over stile, across meadow, over stream and under railway. Bear half left up across field, passing 40 yards to left of old pill box. Go over stile a few yards to left of far field corner, down slope to second stile and on along valley within wide grassy strip, bordered by woods. At far end, enter wood through gate and shortly, ignore right fork, keeping to lower path. Join lane at Mott's Mill (GR 523354).

Turn right along lane for about a quarter of a mile. About 100 yards after passing cottage called 'Meadowside' on right, go left over stile. Descend steeply to cross stream and climb, keeping to left edge of field with woodland on left. In top left corner of field, go over stile and head ESE across field with cottage about 100 yards to left. Cross farm track and stile to follow minor power line across two fields and along left edge of third field, passing 'Bullfinches Farm', with oast house, on left. Beyond farm, maintain direction (SE) downhill across field, joining and following left edge of copse. Towards bottom of hill, bear slightly left, away from copse edge and, at bottom, go over stile and plank bridge, cross farm track and go ahead (GR 531344).

Climb along left edge of woodland. Go slightly right (almost due S) across field, passing to left of clump of trees surrounding shallow pit. Go through gap in hedge and ahead across field to gap in another hedge. Drop downhill across middle of next field to stile in bottom right corner. Turn left along farm track which crosses stream and climbs as partly concreted track between banks. At T-junction, turn right on grassy track along side of valley, soon climbing gently. This becomes hollow way leading up to join driveway. Turn right along drive and follow it out to A26 road at GR 536331.

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