Revised 28th October 2001
The detailed route follows this narrative.
After getting some necessary chores out of the way
on Saturday, we went for the walk to Tudeley on Sunday. It is close to Tonbridge, along
A good place to start was the "Poacher" Inn in Tudeley Hale. It is a Free House with very good food and decent beer. The "Winter Storm" bitter brewed from whiskey malt is very drinkable.. The pub is large, with a separate restaurant for a la carte meals. It is also possible to have bar meals. We had baguettes, mine with roast beef and Louise had tuna.
The prices are a little expensive, but the quality makes it bearable. It is a friendly place too and very comfortably furnished. Most people were there for the restaurant meals, but some enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and papers in the lounge.
There was background music, but it was poor stuff; muted and forgettable. Update: The Poacher is no longer a Free House. A local contact reports that the Tudeley Oak or the Dovecote are better bets for food and real ale.
The car park is large, so we parked and began the walk there. The weather was beautiful. It may have been around freezing point in the shade, but the sky was clear and the air was quite still.
The ground was thawing and getting sticky. This is an area of streams and flood plain. We followed one stream after another until reaching the road at Tudeley.
At the edge of the hamlet, overlooking the Medway valley, stands the parish church of All Saints, Tudeley-cum-Capel. Much of the church was built between 1760 and 1770, but records show that a church has stood here for over a thousand years.
The Domesday book of 1080, records that William the Conqueror's half-brother Bishop Odo, owned the parish. Not his only possession either.
Remnants of a medieval church still exists in the west tower, aisle, nave and chancel. The three bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hung between 1774 and 1795.
Records trace 42 curates serving the church from 1252 to 1874. It is still used for services. Described in 1798 as obscure and unfrequented, it has become one of the most famous of the Wealden churches, due to a tragic accident.
The daughter of Sir Henry and Lady d'Avigdor Goldsmid, Sarah Venetia, drowned in a sailing accident off the coast at Rye in 1963. Her parents commissioned Marc Chagall, the impressionist artist, to create a stained glass window to commemorate her death.
The window was made in the Simon workshop in Rheims, by Charles and Madame Marq. It was dedicated in 1967, and family and friends of the girl helped restore the church. Sir Henry commissioned seven more windows, which were installed in 1974. Chagall designed a further four windows for the chancel, which were installed in 1985, the year of his death.
The windows give an unusual surrealism to the spartan interior, singing out in a glorious burst of life, conquering the pathos and the chill air.
The first stained glass window. Tudeley
I'd really recommend a visit, there is no other church like it in England.
Tudeley Church. Beyond Tudeley church.
After leaving the church, we wandered through orchards and hop fields, to a long muddy stretch heading to the Medway. We were amazed to find Germander Speedwell flowering in abundance at the corner of a field, in the lee of a wood. The mud clung desperately to our boots, getting heavier and broader with each step. I tried to hurry Louise along, but her little legs heaving through that gloop reminded me of Oliver Hardy wading out of yet another pond or river. Can you envisage the scene?
We crossed the river by a lock and headed west, watching the setting sun reflected off the water at the bends of the river.
The banks had been host to a coarse fishing match. Most of the contenders were loading up their cars by the road bridge, drinking from flasks of hot tea, but a few were still trying to get in the last casts of the day. A few perch were caught, but most we spoke to had blanked all day. I know that feeling.
The final stretch crossed fields with an orange sky highlighting a darkened tree-lined ridge. A lovely walk any time of the year, even if it is heavy going.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 136.
Start: The Poacher Inn. Tudeley Hale, near Tonbridge.
Distance: 8.47km (5.26 miles)
From the Poacher, go to the road and turn left along the road. Shortly, you will pass an Elizabethan house to the left called Tudeley Hall. As you pass it, take a footpath on the right and follow the right boundary to the end of the field.
Cross a stile there and continue ahead. Crossing this tiny meadow, you will have to step into a ditch, if your legs are short, to get over the next stile. Cross it into the next field and go ahead to the corner of two hedges. Go through a gap in the corner, still in the same direction, but keeping to the right of the hedge.
When this section ends, you cross a broad wooden bridge and immediately go left before a tree and a hedge. This takes you into another small field. Follow it's left hand hedge. As it bears right, cross a footbridge into another field and continue following it's left hand fence.
Cross a stream over a footbridge by a wide sleeper bridge and then carry on, keeping to the left hedge. Keeping a large stream to your left you soon come to a railway line. Cross a stile and take care crossing the line. A sign reminds walkers of the live rail, and the trains are quite frequent.
After crossing the line, go left and then enter a small copse. Continue ahead, keeping to the left of a stream. You will soon emerge onto a small field where you turn right and then onto the busy main road at Tudeley.
Once on the road (the B2017), turn left and continue along it a hundred metres to a bend. Follow the bend round to the right, signposted to Five Oak Green and Paddock wood.
Around 60 metres further on, turn left onto the drive leading to All Saints church. Go up to the church and enter if you wish. To continue with the walk, come out of the church door and turn left, keeping to your original direction.
This takes you to the back of the churchyard to a stile in the right hand corner. Cross over that and cross the field directly ahead, ignoring an arrow on the stile which points left.
At the end of this field, cross another stile and proceed ahead, to cross a stile to the right of a metal gate and continue on towards farm buildings.
Go through a stile in the sheep fencing ahead and follow the drive signposted to Bank Farm. Opposite the main entrance to Bank Farm, take a track to the right. There is a round mirror beside it.
Keep to the right hedge, going into a small orchard and through another gateway into the next field.
Where the hedge bends sharply to the right, continue ahead in the field.
Go through a gap in the next hedge and turn right along the hedge as it bends right and then left with a copse to your right.
At the end of this copse, at the point where the path bends right again, go straight ahead to cross the field in an easterly direction to the left hand edge of a woodland shaw. Some buildings may be visible behind it.
Go to the left edge of the shaw and then follow it to the right. Ignore the first line of trees to your left and walk down the left side of the second line you come to. This will bring you down to the road directly opposite the George and Dragon pub. Nothing to stop you making a detour to pay homage to a pint or three. Turn left and walk along the road for a short way.
As the road bends to the right there is a track on your left. Walk up this track and continue straight ahead until it is barred by fencing to the railway. Turn right, keeping to the right of the railway. At the end of this field, go right a few metres and cross to your left by a sleeper bridge.
After crossing a narrow shaw, emerge onto a hop field and continue to follow the railway to your left.
At the end of the hop field, go through the farm gate and pass a number of out-buildings and old caravan or two.
Soon, to your left, you will see a metal gate leading beneath a railway viaduct. Go through it.
Once through, go straight ahead in a narrow field with a hop field to its right. Cross the stile at the end and head diagonally half right across the field to the left hand side of a line of pollarded poplars.
Cross a stream over a concrete bridge and keep ahead along the right hand hedge. This takes you to a broad grassy path between a hedge and a wood. Continue through it into the next field and keep going straight ahead.
At the end of this field, cross a sleeper bridge into the next field, again keeping straight ahead, going roughly north.
Aim for the flat concrete bridge, coated with yellow lichen. Cross over the bridge and turn right, following the stream until it bends sharply to the right. At that point continue to follow your original direction north.
Head towards a thin metal pole with two direction arrows on it. Ignore the arrow pointing right. Cross the concrete bridge beside it and follow the direction of the arrow pointing ahead across the field.
At the end of this field, cross a narrow concrete bridge with handrails and again continue ahead.
At the other end of the field, cross a wooden bridge, also with handrails and still keep going ahead.
Pass through a gap in the line of tree ahead and continue on towards an overhead bridge on the River Medway.
Cross over the bridge and turn left. Go through another short bridge and a narrow bridge to reach the opposite bank and then follow the Medway, keeping it to your left, heading west.
Follow the river for 1.5km (9/10 mile) until the road bridge. Pass below the bridge and turn right on a path to reach the road. Turn right on the road and cross over the bridge.
Continue along the road for about 400 metres. Just after electricity cables pass over the road, take a footpath on your left. Follow the right hand hedge, which then quickly bends left and about 15 paces after that, pass through a small gap on the right.
Go ahead in the field, heading towards two wooden telegraph poles which straddle the path.
Beyond the poles, look for a wooden bridge further ahead.
Cross the bridge and head towards a thin pole, slightly left (south). This marks a double sleeper bridge which you cross. After this, head towards the left hand edge of the farm buildings.
Pass the buildings on your right until you reach a ditch with another double sleeper bridge. Cross over and turn right on the track. Go through a white gate to a lane.
Keep ahead on the lane, going west. This is Sherenden Lane. At the end of the lane, turn left on the main road and in about 75 metres you will reach the Poacher Inn.