insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 68 Nov 2017 - Page 54

DAYSOUT COUNTRYSIDE WALKING WITH STYLISH FLAIR CRANBROOK HAS A RICH HISTORY IN TEXTILE PRODUCTION WITH BROADCLOTH TEXTILE PRODUCTION REACHING ITS PEAK IN THE TUDOR PERIOD. FOLLOWING THIS, AGRICULTURE FLOURISHED AND CRANBROOK BECAME AN IMPORTANT MARKET TOWN KNOWN FOR ORCHARDS AND HOP GARDENS. CRANBROOK IS ALSO HOME TO THE TALLEST SURVIVING SMOCK MILL IN THE BRITISH ISLES WHICH PRODUCES STONEGROUND WHOLEMEAL FLOUR FOR THE MILL SHOP. VISIT THE PRETTY VILLAGE OF SISSINGHURST AND SISSINGHURST CASTLE, OWNED BY THE NATIONAL TRUST; THE GARDENS WERE CREATED BY VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, THE KENT AUTHOR AND POET, WITH HER HUSBAND SIR HAROLD NICHOLSON. Your walk begins in the High Street near the White Horse Inn, a pub that has undergone extensive redecoration over the last year and is a good place to stop for a quick drink before starting your walk if you need to fuel up! After the pub, head up the steps past the church and follow the path through the cemetery. The church is known locally as the Cathedral of the Weald and is an impressive landmark. Continue along the path as it enters into a playing field. Pass the play area and follow the fence line to the road. Go down the steps and cross the road to continue on the footpath. Pass through a kissing gate and follow the path close to the fence line with the field on your right. Look out over the expanse of farmland and orchards before you. On reaching a waymarker post, turn right to follow the High Weald Landscape Trail along the hedgerow. Continue to follow High Weald Landscape Trail signs along the field edges until you reach a footbridge. 54 Cross the footbridge and follow the footpath along the edge of the field on the left. Bear left through a gap and head across the field towards houses and gate at the road. Go through gate and turn left to walk along the pleasant country road for a short distance. Turn left to follow the footpath sign towards Crane Farm. On reaching a junction, bear left to continue on the surfaced path. This is another good opportunity to check out the autumnal landscape that surrounds you! Cross the bridge ahead and follow the path ahead past a house on your right. Follow the well-surfaced path through a wooded area which will emerge onto more farmland. Go through gate and continue following the path ahead. Turn left at the waymarker post to pass through the wooden gate and follow the track towards the house. Nearing the house, as the track bends round to the left, bear right to follow path through two gates. On reaching the stables, turn right to follow the track through the stable area. There is a short climb ahead! Turn left off the track to follow the footpath straight across the field. Turn right here if you want to visit Sissinghurst village, home to Sissinghurst Castle and gardens. There is a collection of pretty white clapboard properties including a stripy one and a handful of shops perfect for browsing! It’s well worth the short detour to visit this pretty English Country village. Retracing your steps back across the field from Sissinghurst and continuing on your walk, go through kissing gate into the woods and follow the path to another kissing gate. Come out of the woods and follow the path ahead. Follow this straight path all the way back to the road and retrace your steps past the church, back to where you started. This is a walk that combines heritage and English country delights all in one walk. It’s a perfect autumn or early winter walk to take if you wa nt to catch the last of the autumn splendour with the opportunity to visit a wonderful garden too!