Kent Ramblers

Walk 36

Walk 36: Four Elms and Bough Beech Reservoir

Distance: 5 Miles (2.5 Hours)
OS Map: Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ467484)

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Park opposite the church.

Walk past school on left and take footpath on the left between fence and stream then along the right hand side of a field to a lane.

Take the path opposite through a farm. After a stile (lift bar to pass), bear right across a field around one stile and on to climb a stile (to the left of the gate, which bears “no pedestrians” signs). Follow the left hand edge of a field to climb another stile.

Turn sharp left along a path between a fence and a hedge (ignore the better marked path going right from the stile). Climb stile and cross the bottom of a field (field on left, fence on right) then at the first bend go over stile and bridge on right. Turn left uphill to Five Fields Lane.

Turn right past Owls Court and Syliards Farm to a T-junction. Take the path opposite (stile by gate marked Reynolds Farm) down the left hand side of a field to ditch at bottom. Continue straight on uphill to top of ridge and, just past hedge on right, through gate on left. Bear right to line of trees and follow path along left hand edge of field on far side to gate into lane. Go straight forward along lane.

When lane bends right, go through gap by a gate on left and then through gate in corner of hedge. Cross left hand edge of field and go through gate. Cross left hand edge of another field. You will then find a narrow strip of woodland in front of you. There is a gap on the left and there are various waymarks encouraging you to go through it, but don’t. Instead turn right so that you are following a broad track along edge of field with strip of woodland on your left. Look across the field to your right to note Marlpit Wood – see box.

Keep going straight forward for as long as you can until you are in the corner of a field, possibly by a rusting circular iron structure. Go over the stile on the left, then turn sharp right and cross a bridge into the next field. Cross the field diagonally; the gate is to the left of the far corner. Through gate turn right along the field edge. When you reach a pedestrian gate in the hedge on the right, go through it and turn left with the hedge now on your left, until you reach a lane.

Turn right and then take the footpath on the left just past a pair of houses (Lakefield Farmhouse). Follow path down the side of one house and then along the backs of both. When path emerges into a field, follow a line of electricity wires and poles to corner of wood, then bear half right downhill to a kissing gate.

Turn left. There is a view of the reservoir and some seats on the left from which to admire it. Follow the path round the wood. On emerging from the wood, go straight across the field, through young oak woodland and down right hand edge of next field to the Visitor Centre. If it is closed, turn left at the gate and take the rising path along the right hand edge of the field; otherwise after your visit return to the gate to take the path. The path becomes a track and brings you to a road at Piggotts Cottage.

Take the path opposite between hedge and fence. Follow this path to the bottom of the valley, then up the other side. When you reach two gates, the path is a little hard to find. It does not go through either gate but is on your right. Take this path between a hedge and a fence until it emerges into a field. There is a track just beyond the left hand edge of the field. Don’t take this track immediately but cross the field, bearing slightly left of straight on, to join the track at stile just before the corner of the field. Follow the track for a few metres to the corner, then go slightly left and down to the road.

Join the road at a corner. Turn left and follow it round the corner, first gently downhill, then gently uphill to a stile on left after 350 metres. Cross a short section of woodland by a pond to a stile and cross the next field diagonally, going through a gap in the hedge just to the left of the corner (between two large oaks). (At the time of writing, July 2013, a pipeline was being installed here but the path was still open and we expect the landscape to be fully restored in due course.) Continue in the same direction (aiming for electricity poles) to a stile by a gate, cross a lane and take the path opposite.

This path goes down the edge of a field with a wood on your right. When you get to the end of the wood, the path is supposed to turn sharp left into the middle of the field and then turn 45 degrees right and cross to a stile at the left hand end of hedge. However, the path is not obvious on the ground and you may prefer to follow an obvious path round the edge of the field until you reach the same stile. Over stile, cross two fields diagonally and cross right hand edges of two more fields to road. Turn left back to car.

Marlpit Wood

There are many references to marl pits on maps of Kent.  Marl is a rock layer consisting of a mixture of clay and minerals such as calcium carbonate.  It has been excavated since Roman times as a soil improver – the name is derived from a Latin word for fertiliser.  A marl layer is often found in association with ironstone – hence Furnace House Farm not far from the wood.

Bough Beech Visitor Centre

Well worth a visit, but only open from April to October on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 10am to 5pm and from November to March on Sundays from 10am to 4pm .  There are toilets, an exhibition, information, a bookshop and refreshments – with teas and coffee at £1 a cup (in 2013).  Check latest opening times here.

The reservoir itself is filled in winter by pumping water from the River Eden for purification and supply by Sutton and East Surrey Water during the drier summer months.

White "Stiles"

You will see a series of white structures that look a little like stiles but no path goes over them.  These follow the route of a pipeline and are presumably to enable the route to be followed from the air.

Our book of Ten Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more walks like this one.

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 need you.

If you find that the directions and map for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to

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