Walk of the month: High Weald

Near Cranbrook

Near Cranbrook - Credit: Archant

Enjoy the rolling landscape of the High Weald on this 10-mile walk through orchards surrounding Cranbrook

From the Weald Information Centre in Cranbrook your route will pass 15th-century St Dunstan’s Church, known as the Cathedral of the Weald.

At the end of Ball Field, cross the road and continue along the path until you reach the High Weald Landscape Trail. Follow the trail as it traces the edge of the woodland, through a field and right along the road. From here, turn left along the driveway and through the orchard.

Picking your way through the fields, note the Old Cloth Hall on your left, a reference to the cloth industry that made Cranbrook wealthy from the 14th century.

Wander along the High Weald Landscape Trail, passing through the grounds of Benenden School, originally the centre of the Hemstead Estate, granted to Richard Guldeford by King Richard II.

Seated at Benenden village crossroads is the magnificent Old Manor House, said to be the oldest surviving house in the parish.

As you turn right at the village green, St George’s Church lies ahead. The original church was listed in the Domesday Book, but in December 1672 it caught fire during a storm and was rebuilt five years later.

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Heading south along the High Weald Landscape Trail, you’ll find striking views of Hastings and Fairlight stretch out ahead. Turn right at the track and across the fields towards the tranquil Strawberry Wood.

Wandering along the woodland path, you will soon be brought to an ancient culvert believed to have been created to allow heavy loads to pass over it, yet its original function is still unknown.

It is perhaps another nod to the area’s heritage, having been a safe crossing in the transport of broadcloth to the fulling mills.

Emerging from the wood, your path will lead beside another wood and through an orchard. More lush green fields await as you stroll through the rolling countryside and back up towards St George’s Church.

As your path turns back from the church, be sure to admire views across the countryside towards Cranbrook.

Crossing through the fields, you will soon reach Little Nineveh. The wicked Biblical city from the ancient Middle East may seem far removed from the peaceful Wealden countryside, yet it is believed it bears links to the properties once owned by Dissenters.

Travelling up the hill, turn left at the road and you will reach the footpath towards Swattenden.

From here, continue along pathways etched across the fields which encroach on the hustle and bustle of Cranbrook.

Soon you’ll be back in the High Street, ready to take advantage of the many charming independent shops and restaurants which line the streets.

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