A pretty, historical walk through Cranbrook
PUBLISHED: 10:43 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:28 28 August 2020
Explore the fascinating 600-year-old buildings and architecture of Cranbrook which was once an important centre for textiles
Location: Cranbrook – TN17 3JU
Distance: 3 miles (4.83 km) circular
Time: Allow 2 hours – but take your time and enjoy the sights!
Explorer Map: 136
Terrain: Field paths suitable for most walking abilities
Parking: Free parking is available opposite the Crown Pub on the High Street. Signposted by Co-op car park
Public Transport: For directions by public transport to Cranbrook from your home address please visit www.kentconnected.org
Explore the fascinating 600-year-old buildings and architecture of Cranbrook which was once an important centre for textiles. Known as the capital of the Kentish Weald, the village has seen the rise and fall of key Kent industry including agriculture which saw hop gardens and local orchards flourish putting Cranbrook on the map as an important market town. Be sure to admire the second tallest surviving windmill in the British Isles, the restored and working Union Mill which dominates the Cranbrook skyline. Enjoy exploring the village of Sissinghurst and the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle conserved by the National Trust. They are amongst the most celebrated in the world.
Celebrate the heritage of Kent’s wonderful industrial past which can be seen in the many interesting buildings dating from the 15th and 19th century often displaying the weatherboarding characteristic of traditional Wealden buildings. It is in the middle of this pretty market town that your walk begins near the White Horse Inn on the High Street, a traditional pub with an open fire which serves a selection of four cask ales.
Head past the pretty St Dunstan’s Church, dating back over 500 years and which is an impressive landmark in this small market town. It is well worth stopping for a peek inside at the magnificent stained-glass windows. Afterwards, follow the path through the cemetery and enter a playing field by a children’s play area – perfect for littles ones to let off some steam!
Walking through beautiful fields with crops being harvested proves as a wonderful reminder of the importance of agriculture in this area both now and in times past. Generations have farmed the land and as you make your way along the High Weald Landscape Trail you will see an abundance of orchards, hop growing and perhaps even sheep grazing on the farmland through which you walk.
Head through a small wooded area and look out to wonderful Wealden views, the autumn landscape providing an exquisite backdrop of yellowing leaves and an increasingly golden spectacle.
Continue your walk along field paths and quiet country lanes, passing farm buildings and crossing quaint footbridges. Many of these routes would have been used by mill workers and farm labourers on their way to and from work in times gone by.
After a short climb, you will have the option to take a short detour to visit Sissinghurst Village, home to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. This is an excellent stop off to climb the turret to look out at amazing views, explore the world-renowned gardens designed by Kent author and poet Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson and enjoy some delicious locally produced food in the restaurant. After exploring the village of Sissinghurst, originally called Milkhouse Street until the 1850’s when it changed its name possibly to avoid association with the smuggling and cock fighting tendencies of the local Hawkhurst Gang, it is time to head back to the woods and back to the road to retrace your steps back to Cranbrook. Look for the windmill, a fully working Grade I Smock Mill which still produces flour to this day.
Your walk ends where it started but be sure to look around Cranbrook before you leave. It has been a home to several notable people in the past including Harry Hill, Thomas Webster and Tim Smit.
For more information on our walks, cycle rides and canoe trails including Kent’s hop harvesting history and great walks to see fireworks, please visit Explore Kent and discover the great Kentish countryside or follow Explore Kent on social media @explorekent on Twitter and Facebook