December: Matfield and Kent College
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7.1 miles (3h 30m)
Map: Explorer 136 (Start at grid reference TQ656418)
Park on the road around Matfield village green or in parking area at westernmost corner of green.
Head for the south west corner of the green and take track to right of sports pavilion. At end of fence on the right, take path through gate between fences. After a couple of hundred metres go over stile on left and bear right across field to copse. Through copse, cross another field diagonally and go through a stretch of woodland. Cross a short meadow to a lane. Turn right but after a few metres take path on left climbing through woodland (fine wood anemones and bluebells in spring) then bearing left through an orchard. At track, turn right to lane.
Turn left along lane to start of woodland on right and take path on right along left hand edge of orchard. Take first track on left through woodland following powerlines, descend to stream and climb to T-junction meeting the High Weald Walk which is the original name for what is now called the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk. Turn left. On reaching a junction of four paths, turn right downhill.
Cross a footbridge, bear right uphill until you meet a level path and turn left. After a hundred metres or so turn sharp right uphill. Keep going until the path starts to descend again and there is a derelict building close to the path on the right. Turn right immediately past the building and follow path along broad grassy ride between orchards.
At junction of paths turn sharp left and descend gently to Pippins farm. Bear left across farmyard and take driveway through orchards up to road. Go straight across and along drive towards Downingbury Farm shop (coffee, fruit and ice cream available). Bear right in front of shop then double back behind shop along path leading to bridge over the A228. Immediately over the bridge take path on left parallel to road. Soon bear right downhill to reservoir then left to track and join road.
Turn right up Old Church Road, passing the water treatment plant on the right, until Kent College comes into view. At the first entrance to the College there is a gate on the right of the gateway. Go through this and across decking into a field.
Cross the field roughly half way between the College drive on the left and the woodland on the right. You should cross a plank bridge over a ditch half way across and then bear right a stile by a gate. Bear slightly left to follow a path under a line of oak trees to another stile then continue in the same direction across the next field to a stile into a wood.
Inside the wood, turn left and follow a path until, just before a gate, it turns right. Soon bear right down some steps to a stream and up some more steps on the other side. Ignoring a gate on the left, continue just inside the wood until you reach a stile out into a field. Follow the right hand edge of the field until, about two-thirds of the way to the corner, you come to a stile on the right. Climb the stile and follow the left hand edge of the next field past a pond on your left to a gate.
Through the gate, follow the left hand edge of an orchard, crossing a stile half way along. When the left hand fence ceases, keep going straight forward until you reach the far end of the orchard. There should be a gate in corner into the next field – if it is not obvious, bear right until you find it. Cross the top of the field and skirt the right hand edge of a pond. Bear right past a footpath sign into an orchard then bear left towards a house. Go between the house (on your left) and a hedge (on your right) down to a lane.
Take the path opposite. Once inside the field go straight down the hill and look for a track through the bracken bearing slightly right near the bottom. This should lead you to a gate and then to a bridge across a stream. On the other side bear left across duckboards to another bridge over which a track goes through a wood. On emerging from the wood, go over a stile on the left and turn sharp right to follow the right hand edge of the next field uphill. When the path bears right into the next field, do not follow the broad track between hedges but cross the field diagonally aiming just to the right of a house visible on the horizon. In the corner of the field a stile leads to the road.
Cross the road very carefully – it can be busy and you may have to be patient. You are aiming for a path on the opposite side of the road just a few metres to the right – it is easily visible. Follow this path past a tennis court, through a gate and then down a lane towards woodland. Go into the woodland, across a stream and up the other side of the valley to a junction of paths.
Turn left and follow a path through woodland crossing a footbridge at the bottom and up the other side with no significant changes of direction. At top turn left along path inside the wood until you reach the corner of the wood. Go over stile and take the path on the right that soon goes between fences downhill towards another wood. After a short section of woodland enter newly-created conservation area at Cinderhill Wood. Head straight up the hill passing picnic area on left at top (you could stop to explore the paths through the woods here). Keep straight on for a while then follow track as it bears left, after which keep right at all junctions and along lane.
On meeting road, take the second lane on the right back to
Matfield has the largest village green in Kent. The beacon by the duck pond dates only from 2000; it was lit for the millennium and again for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. At its north end the green is overlooked by the elegant Matfield House, built in 1728 in the Queen Anne style.
The fine stable block is topped by a splendid clock tower bearing the advice to “mind the time”.
There are many other fine weatherboarded and tile-hung houses around the green and a pub at each end. The sports pavilion was finished in 2014 after its predecessor was destroyed by fire.
The name derives from “Matta feld” – the large clearing farmed by
Pembury Old Church
Adjacent to Kent College and quite some way from Pembury which also has a newer church, old St Peter’s was mainly built by John Colepepper of Bayhall in 1337 although some parts may date back to 1147 or earlier.
Kent College is an independent day and boarding school for girls.
The name is a reminder of the iron industry that was prevalent in the area in Tudor times.
Our book of Ten
Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more
walks like this one.
We also have a fine Guide
to the Kent Coast Path available for sale.
Ramblers' volunteers in
Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected
and maintained as possible. Of course we also organise led
walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply
want to support our footpath work. Please join
us and become a supporter too. You need us and we really
If you find that the directions and map
for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Map based on Ordnance
Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData