Situated in the north-east of East Sussex is the ancient village of Ticehurst. John Harmer starts from here to explore the delightful High Weald countryside south of Bewl Water, the largest reservoir in the South-east, and discovers the history of some interesting buildings as well

The essentials:

Distance/time: Four miles/two hours.

Public transport: Buses (254) from Wadhurst and Hawkhurst to Ticehurst, alight at The Bell.

Timetable information from: Traveline: 0871 200 2233 or

Car: Car park (free) in Pickforde Lane (off High Street, B2099).

Underfoot: Field and woodland paths and tracks which may be muddy, if wet; also, some minor roads and footway along main road.

Thirsty work: The Bell, High Street, Ticehurst (at start/finish); The Bull Inn, Three Leg Cross (point 4).

Maps: OS Explorer 136 (High Weald) and Landranger 188 or 199; also a compass for general direction.

The route:

1. From the car park, go through a twitten to the right of a tall building to the High Street and turn right along the footway; or from bus stops, facing The Bell, turn left.

In a quarter of a mile, go past Cross Road, Tollgate Cottage and the village sign; the hurst part of the village name deriving from Old English hyrst meaning wooded area. Turn right along Vineyard Lane. Go past a large white building on the left, Ticehurst House, which is a private specialist hospital set within 48 acres of landscaped gardens; then by a high brick wall.

2. A little farther on, by another brick wall, look for a gap in the hedge on the right to go down a slope, over a stile with a waymark. Follow the right-hand field edge, cross a stile and, in a few paces, turn right by a yellow arrow to go down steps along a path which may be partly hidden by undergrowth. Cross a footbridge and follow the path uphill through woodland to emerge in an orchard.

Continue direction uphill on the grass path and, at the crest of the hill bear left by a wooded hollow where there are beehives; then bear right downhill through the orchard. At the bottom, turn left along the lane to Three Leg Cross.

3. Bear right to go past The Bull Inn and along Dunsters Mill Lane. Go past Tinkers Lane and, at a right-hand bend, turn left by a fingerpost along a footpath. Follow the concrete track for about 650 yards.

At the end, turn right at a fingerpost on a bridleway going downhill with a wooden fence on the left. At the bottom, go through a hand-gate and turn right along the winding bridleway.

Just before Bewl Water comes fully into view, see on the right Dunsters Mill House, a Grade II listed timber-framed building which was moved up the hill to preserve it when the reservoir was constructed in the 1970s. Continue on the bridleway and, at the end of a lane, turn right past a vehicle barrier to follow the lane uphill. In a short distance on the right, look in the entrance to Dunsters Mill House to see an up-ended mill stone; then continue along the lane for about 550 yards.

4. At a sharp right-hand bend by the entrance to Overy’s Farmhouse, go straight ahead by a fingerpost on a restricted byway. Where the tarmac track turns left, continue direction on the unmade track.

On coming to a driveway on the right, go straight ahead to cross a lane and continue direction downhill on a sign-posted footpath. At the bottom of the field, bear right, then almost immediately left to follow the path uphill to cross a stile.

Continue along the left-hand field edge; go over a stile and along the right-hand field edge. At the farther corner, go along a twitten onto Ticehurst High Street and turn left to return to the bus stops or car park.

For additional historic interest, cross the main road and go along Church Street (opposite The Bell) and, in about 150 yards, enter the churchyard on the left. Notice the two large yew trees here.

5. It is believed that a church building existed on this site from the 12th century. However, the present building, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin dates from the late 14th century with many additions and alterations dating from the Victorian era. The most recent extension was constructed in this century, and designed to blend very well with the existing building.

Return via Church Street to the High Street and, if time permits, look around the village.