Take a peaceful walk around the lake and along the way see bird boxes that are home to owls, blue tits, robins and woodpeckers and look out for kingfishers, swans, herons and crested grebes on the lake itself. At the foot of the lake there are three second world war pill boxes built to defend a key crossing point on the River Eden. The walk takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes at a leisurely pace.
Download an enjoyable nature trail to complete during your walk.
Lake Walk is weather dependent so please check on arrival
Last entry is 1 hour and 15 minutes before the grounds close, and final exit is 30 minutes before they close. View opening times.
Birds & Waterfowl on the Lake
Birds Around the Lake
There are 4 reed beds growing against the banks of the lake. These beds tend to develop where water is slow moving and silt deposited. Listen out for reed warblers in late spring/early summer and watch for wrens nesting in the litter.
Populus Deltoid (Poplar) – Used to manufacture match sticks.
Pinis Nigra (Corsican pine) – Twisted needles which look like bottle brushes. Drought tolerant.
Pimus Sylvestris (Scots pine) – These were transplanted from the Ashdown Forest.
Taxodium (Swamp cypress) – produces aerial roots along the ground.
A kaleidoscope of rainbow colours has burst forth beside the Lake with fourteen species including Calendula officinalis (Marigold), Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower), Cosmos bipinnatus, Linum grandiflorum (Flax) and Papaver rheas (Common Poppy). Sown during the period of April – June, the flowering period of this rainbow mix will continue here until November.
The form part of an extensive system of defence built in 1940 to counter the threat of invasion. The system in the south east of England consisted of 3 ‘stop lines’ covering major strategic features, such as river valleys, and in particular the River Eden. Pill boxes were built along the north bank of the river at 300-400m intervals – often staggered to provide interlocking fields of fire. Here 3 pillboxes are spaced much closer together to cover what would have been a key crossing point.
Anne of Cleves Bower House folly
The Anne of Cleves Bower House folly can be viewed from the pathway close to the Lake. The folly, which bears Anne of Cleves’ crest in two places, is close to the riverside bower, the only original section of the river that runs through the Estate. The origin of this folly is unknown. It is assumed to have been the brainchild of owner William Waldorf Astor, as it appears on maps dating back to this time, or perhaps even Anne of Cleves herself as the bricks appear to be much older.
This feature of the walk is remnant of the original long avenue planted 1904-1908 designed to lie on the same axis as the Long Gallery in the Castle. The avenue started from the side of the outer moat and ran the whole length of Sixteen Acre Island and beyond. The avenue suffered extensive damage from the ‘Great Storm’ of October 1987. The remaining trees are under attack from leaf minor and bleeding canker. The horse chestnut trees are being replaced with more resilient Spanish horse chestnut.
Ponds are very much a feature of the landscape in this area, often found in corners of fields and many created during the Medieval and Tudor periods when the Weald was the main iron producing region in Britain. The Wealden geology of sands and clays yielded differing qualities of ore which were mixed to give the best results. The iron was used for making household utensils, nails, hinges and for casting cannon.
Stone and Mechanical Weir
The weir was originally built when the lake was constructed during the 1904-1908. The mechanical weir, designed to control the level of the water in the lake, can be raised and lowered as necessary. The River Eden, of which the lake is part, continues its course eastwards in a series of meanders until it flows into the River Medway near Tonbridge.