|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||19.6 miles (31.5 km)|
|Meets:||A25, B269, B2027, B2028, A264, B2110, B2188, A22|
|Route outline (key)|
The B2026 is a lengthy B-road in the South East of England.
The road starts on the A25 in the small town of Westerham, Kent, and heads south. Immediately opposite the entrance to the road is Quebec House, the childhood home of General James Wolfe, the "Hero of Quebec". The road climbs Hosey Hill in a mixture of open country and large detached houses. The change of name to Hosey Common Road highlights the end of the houses and the road traverses woodland.
Two significant bends and a dip are negotiated. Not too far through the trees on the left is Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill, and there is a National Trust sign for a turning on the left for an unclassified road towards the house. The road descends into a valley and reaches the B269 at Crockham Hill. Here a left turn is necessary and the B2026 is the junior partner in the short multiplex. The B269 and this road have a strange relationship in this area - there's a totso and a junior role for the B2026 at their northern junction but then half a mile down the road at the other end of Crockham Hill the B269 has to take the left turn totso.
Continuing then as the B2026 proper and gently descending towards the River Eden, we pass open fields, farmland and trees. At Marlpit Hill, the northern suburbs of Edenbridge, we take the line of a Roman Road, which used to be followed along the dead-straight Edenbridge High Street and out the other side. Under the railway bridge at Edenbridge Station which is on the cross-country Tonbridge to Reigate line a new roundabout is negotiated. The left and right turns are respectively, an industrial estate and new housing development. The B2027 then leaves from a turning on the left. We go under another railway bridge, which this time is the Uckfield branch line. At this point there is a newish set of lights and the road is diverted from the High Street to the west. Basically this is a "back of the houses" S2 bypass and there are another two new sets of lights along the short diversion. It can often be quicker to stay on the old Roman Road through the High Street, even with its traffic calming. Crossing the River Eden (which is a River Medway tributary) we join the old road at the end of the High Street.
Continuing on a dead-straight line through the suburbs the houses then die away and we go straight back to the NSL. Back to open countryside before a very obvious diversion to the left from the Roman Road (which continues as a lane). The next section is a good one for the driving enthusiast as most of the road is normally driven at 50 mph or more. Again this is a mixture of farmland and the occasional group of cottages or buildings. Only a few bends here to slow progress. At Kentwater Cottages the Road crosses Kent Water which forms the Sussex border. Progress continues to be uninterrupted until we reach the A264. Here is a staggered junction and we must turn left and then right. Maps suggest this was formerly a crossroads. Prior to 1935 the other road was unclassified and has only been A264 since the 1960s.
Continuing in a mainly straight fashion and an orchard is passed in front of Bolebroke Castle (Sussex's oldest brick building) and now an hotel. We then cross the River Medway itself (not much more than a stream at this point) at Hartfield Bridge, as we approach the village of the same name. At Hartfield station, we cross over the former Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells railway line. It closed in 1967, and the former station is now partly a nursery and a private house. The route of the railway line is now a key portion of the Forest Way cycle path. After a short climb up quite a steep hill, the village of Hartfield is reached. The Milne family purchased the nearby Cotchford Farm in 1910 and from here A.A. Milne wrote the Winnie the Pooh stories. We must give way and turn right onto the B2110 at a T-junction. That road assumes dominance in the multiplex though the village, not surprisingly as it used to be numbered A264. At the end of the village we must turn left off the multiplex as the main route is the B2110 to the right.
Once more passing farmland, there is a turn on the right for an unclassified road. Take this if you want to play pooh-sticks from the original /Poohsticks Bridge. There is a car parking area and a nice walk if you want the exercise. The road then climbs to reach the mostly open heathland of Ashdown Forest. This is the largest free public access space in the South East of England. It is unfenced throughout this section. The are several places to stop the car and some fine views from the road. It is also, like Dartmoor, an area where the blanket 40 mph speed limit roundels are painted on the road.
The B2188 comes in at a T-junction on the left and the heathland continues before we drop down and revert to farmland. The road then comes to a give-way which was the end of the road on the A22 towards Maresfield. As the A22 now has a bypass, starting a hundred yards to the north-west of this point, the B2026 has now taken over the old road northbound, back to the Lampool Roundabout at the start of the bypass.