Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House
Sissinghurst Castle to Scotney Castle
Sissinghurst Castle is the second of our castles but this ‘castle’ is attributed to whim and whimsey as it never saw a battle or defend anything more than its ‘far from pleasant situation, low in a wet clayey soil, without prospect, and enveloped with large tracts of surrounding woodland.’ (Edward Hasted 1798). Today it is one of the most visited gardens in England and the National Trust tearooms provide a welcome relief after Hemsted Wood.
Cranbrook, at the centre of the woollen trade, heralds the start of climbs up to ridges, descents to the valleys and the streams and rivers that once provided the power for the Wealden iron furnaces. Avoiding the vengeful dragon that lurks in Angley Wood, the path leads up to Goudhurst with its stories of the infamous Hawkurst smuggling gang.
Magnificent views herald the walk along the Teise Valley before the climb to Kilndown, and a reward perhaps at the Globe and Rainbow, before entering the grounds of Scotney Castle and on to Lamberhurst.
It has been on the warmish side every time I’ve walked this route and next time perhaps I’ll walk on fallen leaves in the Autumn.
For Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House, this is the start of the High Weald of Kent and Sussex leaving the low farmland behind.
The remainder of the journey round to Robertsbridge will follow the same formula of a climb up to the ridges and descents to the valleys, across streams and rivers that bisect the countryside that provided the power for the Wealden iron furnaces.
This section starts with a gentle undulating stroll on clear paths with the occasional gate to navigate, an easy path before a gradual climb up from the heart of Cranbrook, through Angley Wood, to Glassenbury, 390ft. The descent into the valley of a tributary of the River Teise brings the dawning realisation of the walkers parable that whenever a path goes down there will be a path that goes up as high and our destination, Goudhurst stands proudly on the hill at 387ft, just a short sharp climb up from the valley floor.
The steep descent from the village centre leads first to the wide valley of the River Teise before climbing up to Kilndown (371ft) and the final section down through the Scotney Castle Estate to the Castle itself. There are some stiles to negotiate.
- Sissinghurst Castle: NT Tea Rooms
- Sissinghurst: The Milk House
- Cranbrook: The White Horse, The George
- Goudhurst: The Star & Eagle, The Vine, Green Cross Inn (A262 Station Road)
- Kilndown: The Globe and Rainbow
- Scotney Castle: NT Tearooms
- Lamberhurst: The Chequers, The George and Dragon
Talks: The Speakers List
Area: The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty & Kent