Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Stage 2 - Groombridge to Boarshead (3.9 miles)

As we are both pretty busy at weekends at the moment, we decided to do this second section one evening after work – hence the short distance. Fortunately, this part of the SBP is very close to (my) home, so there is very little travelling. We met at 5pm at Boarshead, just off the A26 north of Crowborough, and drove to Groombridge for the start near Hamm Farm.

Entering the first field, by stables
We walked up the road from our parking place near the Forest Way disused railway, past the entrance drive to Hamm Farm, where we finished our last leg, and a few hundred metres further on, took a stile on the right into a field by some stables.

Zuka shows Poppy how to negotiate a stile with ease
Stile from disused railway track, back into fields
We walked diagonally across the field to a stile and crossed the disused railway, bearing left to follow the river to a squeeze stile at the B2188, where Zuka took an early dip. The road proved quite busy at this time in the evening.

Poppy watches Zuka having a swim in the river

Reaching the B2188

Turning left, we walked up the road for a little over 100m, then turned right over another stile into a lush meadow. For the non-purists, it would be possible to avoid most of this road section by forking left away from the stream and leaving the field by a gate, but that wouldn’t be keeping to the official SBP, would it?

Under the new railway line
National Cycle Route sign on the Forest Way
Forking left across this meadow for about 250m, we crossed a stile, and joined the Forest Way cycle path, passing under the new railway and turning right to follow the track to a road by a water treatment works.

Zuka leads the way
Nice dry path under the railway
We turned right, and shortly took a stile on the right into another field, and under another railway bridge. The last time I had walked here (with Anne earlier this year), the path under the bridge had been completed flooded and we had to wade through with water up to our knees (and ended up getting wellies full of water). Zuka, being the water baby that she is had taken it all in her stride, but poor Poppy had NOT been impressed. In contrast, the weather this evening was glorious and the path was quite dry (apart from a tiny puddle for Pops to ‘wet her whistle’ in).

Looking back towards the water treatment works
Heading for Mottsmill Stream
Bearing left after the bridge, we soon took the left fork in the path, and climbed a gentle hill to cross a stile into a narrow strip of wood. Descending to Mottsmill Stream, the path bore right to follow fairly close to its right bank, through a narrow field.

The dogs cool off in Mottsmill Stream
Running wild after animal smells in valley field
Although, we were in a bit of a valley here, and in shade, the woods to our right looked (and smelled) fantastic as the massed bluebells were just coming to their best. I think there must also have been some other smells more interesting to our canine companions (small furry creatures perhaps?) because they were both having a great run around in the woods.

Lovely bluebells - the scent was gorgeous!
Path through the woods to Mott's Mill
At the end of the narrow field, the path entered a small wood, and we continued alongside the stream, bearing left at a path junction to reach the road by Mott’s Mill. After about 300m, we turned left over a stile and descended to cross a footbridge.

Leaving the road to head south-east
Crossing the footbridge over Mottsmill stream

The path then climbed close to the left field boundary, next to a wood. Here we met some frisky bullocks, so we put the dogs on their leads. Fortunately, the bovines were simply curious, and after their initial excitement at seeing us (or more probably the dogs), left us alone to continue unmolested and untrampled

Climbing towards Rocks Farm - bullocks in the distance
Emerging (untrampled) into arable fields

Leaving the bullocks behind, we continued uphill at a gentler gradient, across arable fields with early grown spring wheat. Both dogs found this quite tasty. The path finally levelled out close to a large country property called Bullfinches. The views to north were very fine. Despite living only a few miles from here and having walked other footpaths in the immediate area, this was the first time I had set foot on this particular path and was very pleased to see the stunning panorama.

View north towards Leyswood hamlet

Glorious evening sunshine
We descended again through lush pasture fields close to the house and past a tennis court. The dogs had a welcome drink from a field trough. They were still excited by the early evening scents of animals beginning to emerge from their day time hiding places, and Zuka disappeared off to a small area of woodland surrounding a hidden pond.
Interrupted view back towards Bullfinches

Reaching the bridleway at Little Wigsell

Crossing a footbridge and a stony bridlepath, the path continued alongside a small wood, which was, once again, was full of stunning bluebells (although their scent was not as strong as in the earlier valley field), then reaching its corner bore slightly right to pass diagonally across the field to a clump of trees and a crossroads of paths.

Path towards clump
Wonky way mark post
Maintaining direction we descended diagonally across the next field, towards the corner of a large wood. I think there were a lot of deer smells around (indeed Steve & I had seen a herd of them grazing very near here a few days previously), and the dogs were very excited.

Poppy scans the horizon for deer!
Sunken farm track
At the edge of the field we bore left over a farm bridge and up a reasonably steep sunken drive. The high bank on our left, leading into a wood, was covered with bluebells and Anne was able to photograph them from an unusual angle.

Bluebells on the bank

Reaching a T-junction of paths at the top, we turned right and followed the path as it continued to climb, first in the open and then on a narrow sunken path. Poppy was off the lead again now, and both dogs were still busy investigating animal smells.

Sunken path

As the incline eased off a bit, we reached a stile and bore right to continue climbing gently along a driveway, past Renby Grange and a few other properties. Past the houses, the drive became sunken again, and the stone lined banks were covered with a thick layer of moss.

View NW across Crooked Wood to Pocket Birches
Crazy tree roots
The noise of traffic on the A26 was becoming noticable, and at the top of the hill, we turned right to descend to and cross the road. Fortunately, by this time the rush hour traffic had died down, because it can be tricky to cross here – it is 3 lanes of fast traffic, with no island midway for safety.
Zuka waits by entrance to Leggs Field
Looking back down the track as we approach the A26
Climbing left up a path on the other side of the road, we reached our car. Hubby Steve had been walking Jazz on a separate route in the vicinity, and we met him back at the cars, then continued to the pub at Boars Head for an evening meal. Our daughter Helen joined us too.

Virtually empty A26
This was a super walk, with a variety of terrain. The lovely spring sunshine and wonderful bluebells certainly added to the enjoyment. I must walk the new bits again with Steve sometime – Anne has kindly given us details of a 6 mile circular walk she has devised for her Friday walking group.

Mobile phones NOT welcome at the Boarshead Inn

No comments:

Post a Comment