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Kent walk: Ightham Mote Circular to Wilmot Hill

Ightham  Mote Credit - Charlotte Blacker
Ightham Mote Credit - Charlotte Blacker

The end of another year, already!? What better way to see out 2023 than with this spectacular circuit, exploring the crisp Kent countryside surrounding the National Trust’s incredible Ightham Mote estate?

Setting the scene:

With the festive season well and truly upon us, December is the perfect time to explore the natural wonders and historical treasures that Kent has to offer. This month’s Ightham Mote Circular Walk takes you on a journey through the picturesque landscapes surrounding Ightham Mote, a 14th-century moated manor house that stands as a testament to centuries of history. As you venture through woodlands, fields, and rolling hills, embrace the beauty of nature's transition into winter, with delicate frost-kissed leaves and the promise of a peaceful and reflective walk.

Great British Life: Ightham Mote Credit - Charlotte BlackerIghtham Mote Credit - Charlotte Blacker

The route:

• Begin today’s route with the visitor reception building behind you. Head towards the walled car park and proceed up the entrance driveway. Look for a five-bar gate and stile on your right, which marks the entrance to Scathes Wood.

• Cross over the stile and follow the path straight ahead, ignoring any diverging paths to the right or left. As the path begins to curve to the left, be on the lookout for a trail branching off to your right, marked by a stile leading to a parallel path.

• Take this path and cross the stile to descend gently into a picturesque field. Keep to the edge of the field, with the hedgerow on your right, as you make your way mostly downhill. Eventually, you'll reach a T-junction marked by a National Trust sign. Turn right onto the bridleway and continue, passing the majestic Ightham Mote house. The bridleway will veer left, leading you up to the rear entrance gate and Mote Road. Turn right onto Mote Road, and after a short stroll, you'll spot the entrance track to Mote Farm on your left.

• Follow the track past the farmyard, taking a right turn to stay on the track in a westerly direction. Ignore a branching track to your right along the way. Proceed beyond Wilmot Cottage, a former blacksmith's shop and pack horse station, and an old brick filter house or spring. As you continue, you'll come across steps on your right. Ascend these steps and then turn left to head westward once more. Keep walking for approximately 87 yards (80m) until you reach a footpath on your right.

• At this point, you'll leave the Greensand Way and transition to the green walk. Make a right turn, climb the steps, and then do a 180-degree turn to continue westward along a narrow path, which ascends a steep incline with a steep bank on your left.

• Once you reach the top of the path, you'll encounter a stile adorned with a National Trust sign.

• Cross over the stile and make a right turn. Manoeuvre your way under or around the footpath timber barrier. Descend the path until you reach a cross path. Proceed across this junction, navigating between points at the side of a timber barrier, continuing along the path with the tree line on your right.

• Keep following this path, which gradually bends to the right, before descending to another timber barrier. Just beyond this barrier lies a bridleway, flowing down from Broadhoath Wood on the left. Forge straight ahead. About 55 yards (50m) before reaching this barrier, you'll find a narrow path nestled among the trees, leading to two springs that emerge from the hillside. These springs feed the pond below the barrier, serving as the primary water source for Ightham Mote, supplying both the north and south lakes, as well as the moat.

• Proceed between the posts at the barrier and continue with a stream on your right. You'll pass by the hopper huts, small single-room cottages once used by hop pickers during their working holidays, and a silt trap before arriving at Moat Road.

• From this point, you have the option to cross the road and ascend the footpath located at the north end of the Ightham Mote garden. Climb a few steps to reach the entrance driveway to Ightham Mote.

• Turn right as you enter the car park to complete this delightful winter walk.

Steps, stats and stiles:

This circular route presents a moderate challenge, featuring a mix of woodland, footpaths, and some steep inclines. The route spans approximately 4 miles (6.4 km), making it an ideal 2-hour adventure for walkers. Dog owners can happily bring their four-legged companions along but are asked to keep them on leads when passing livestock. It's important to note that this route may not be suitable for mobility vehicles or pushchairs due to some challenging terrain.

Parking:

Free parking is available at Ightham Mote for National Trust members. For non-members, parking is priced at £3 per car (coin payment only). Please follow instructions from staff and signage on-site on your arrival. If following a Sat Nav please use TN15 0NU.

Perfectly placed refuel spot:

After indulging in the natural beauty and history of this Ightham Mote trail, you may be eager to treat yourself to some well-deserved refreshments. Head to the Ightham Mote café, where you can warm up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, or savour a delicious meal crafted from locally sourced ingredients. The cosy ambience and scrumptious treats will be the perfect ending to your winter walk.

Make a day of it:

To further enrich your December adventure, take the opportunity to explore the fascinating history and architecture of Ightham Mote. This mediaeval manor house boasts intricate details and charming nooks, where you can imagine the lives of its past inhabitants. Delight in the festive decorations and immerse yourself in the seasonal spirit with special events that may be taking place during your visit.

Learn more about Ightham Mote and plan your visit at the official National Trust website: nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote

Route Followed:

For this month’s walk, we followed the 'Ightham Mote Circular Walk to Wilmot Hill' route, provided by the National Trust. You can find the details of this delightful route and more information about the area at: nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/kent/ightham-mote/ightham-motes-circular-walk-to-wilmot-hill



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