Weekend rambles: “The four Bs” (5¾ miles; moderate)

This week, WALKER DUNELM strides in to Kent for a longer ramble around a nature reserve noted for its bird life

Bough Beech Reservoir was built in the late 1960s and the northern end is now a nature reserve popular with ornithologists, especially in the autumn, when osprey from Scotland and Sweden stop off on their journey to Africa. This walk, therefore, features the four Bs: Bough Beech, Bore Place, and lots of birds. It starts at the Visitor Centre, which is in a converted oast house (open from April to October, Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 11am to 4.30pm).

Walk to the right of the Visitor Centre, go through a kissing gate, turn left along the side of a field and pass through another kissing gate. Take the right fork. A kissing gate leads into a meadow and a clear path towards a wooden sleeper bridge and yet another kissing gate. Turn right on an enclosed path to the shore of the reservoir.

Turn right through a kissing gate and follow a path half left making for a point halfway between an electricity pole on the left and the corner of a wood on the right. Cross over a track and continue in the same direction alongside electricity lines towards a large house, a stile in the bottom left hand corner of the field and an enclosed path leading out to a road.

Turn right and, after 30 yards, left through the first of two metal gates opposite the house (no footpath sign). Keep by the hedge on the right, cross a stile at the end of the field and continue ahead with a fence and then a hedge on the left. Nearing the end of the field, look for a stile in the hedge on the left. Cross and bear right, making for a stile just visible among trees in the far corner.

After crossing a bridge and stile, turn right along the edge of two fields with woods on the right. At the end of the second field there is a crossing track with several waymarks. Turn left with a hedge on the right, cross two more stiles and bear left and walk ahead on a lane.

Where the lane bends to the right, go over a stile on the left and along the right-hand edge of a field to the bottom corner. Turn right over bars into Clinton Wood where there is a nicely carved sign. A bendy, but clearly way-marked path, leads to the end of the wood and a stile. Follow the right hand edge of a field, through a copse, over a bridge and along the right hand edge of another field.

Where the hedge on the right ends, ignore a trodden path to the right and walk ahead, turning right and then left by an overgrown pond. At the end of the field there is a stile leading to a road.

Turn right and walk along the road for 500yd to the junction with the B2027 and cross the narrow railway bridge ahead with great care as this is a fairly busy road with awkward junctions and bends either side of the bridge. If refreshment is required, the picturesque Wheatsheaf pub (recommended in every edition of  The Good Beer Guide since its inception) is straight ahead on the far side of the bridge.

Osprey, the migratory fish eagle of northern Britain and Scandinavia, have been regularly sighted at Bough Beech in recent years

The walk continues by turning left for 60yd along the road, then left on a signposted footpath which goes over a level crossing and into a field. Turn right by a chain link fence on the right and, by double electricity poles, go half-left towards a stile visible in trees on the far side of the field. Cross a bridge, bear right in a meadow, go through a gap in bushes on the left and over a stile into an enclosed path with the Bough Beech dam visible on the left.

At the end of this section, cross a stile into a meadow and bear right with Bough Beech Sailing Club on the left. Walk through a belt of trees with a pond on the right, cross a stile, the drive leading to the sailing club and another stile. A clear path goes half right to a stile, through trees, over another stile into a meadow. Turn half left towards two stiles which lead to a road.

Turn right for a few yards then left  up steps and go over a stile. Cross the field towards the right-hand edge of a tile-hung house, cross a stile and turn left along a lane for quarter of a mile. Where the road bends to the right at a junction by a post box and small barn, take the road signposted “Bore Place only”.

On reaching Bore Place, bend left, then right by cow sheds and continue along the road ahead for 350yd and turn left on a stony track at a point where there is a gate  into a field ahead and a footpath waymark by a metal gate on the right.

After 300yd, where the track bends sharply to the right, go forward over a stile beside a gate where there is a good view of the Greensand Ridge and the spire of Ide Hill church. Follow the path downhill and, beside a hedge on the left, cross a footbridge and walk along the left hand edge of a field to a stile leading to a road. Turn left and walk back to the starting point.

Map: OS Explorer 147
Start: Visitor Centre. Grid ref: TQ49514940. Roadside parking along nearby road.
Distance: 5¾ miles Time: 3+ hours
Terrain: A fairly level walk around Bough Beech reservoir. The first stage follows a nature trail, then over farmland. One short woodland area. Could be very muddy after rain.
Nearest town: Sevenoaks
Refreshments:  The Wheatsheaf pub at the halfway mark
Public toilets: At the Visitor Centre
Suitable for: Most. Stiles: 23. Grade: Moderate


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