The interactive map below shows the entire length of the Greenway from the perimeter of the Airfield to Hawley Lane a distance of approximately 3kms. A description of the Greenway route from Southwood to Hawley Lane follows the Map.
This description follows the Greenway along the Brook as it flows from south to north, starting at Southwood.
The route is fully accessible
Informal paths run from the Greenway into the area from Hazel Avenue and Ively Road (at the Monkey Puzzle Inn), and at Grasmere Road.
Southwood Meadow is a flood plain and parts are under water after heavy rain. Some of the paths may be uneven and muddy. Old maps show hay meadows, fields, a coppice and ‘moors’ or boggy land, perhaps a source of thatching reeds.
Near Hazel Avenue wooden footbridges cross a re-naturalised section of the Brook that was previously in a concrete channel. The hillock on the west side is a good place to see solitary bees in spring and summer; nearby a pond leads off the Brook. One of the bridges is on a public right of way between Ively Road and Brookhouse Farm. It is hard to follow and crosses the Golf Course, so use the raised causeway to and from the Monkey Puzzle Inn (once Southwood Farm), instead. The causeway starts a short distance downstream by the white bridge.
Paths around the golf practice area join at the south-east corner of the Cove Cricket Club and continue northwards past grassland and woodland.
The Cove Brook Greenway Group is working hard to try to restore the wildflower-rich grassland north of the golf practice area. With no grazing to keep the plants in check the Group fight a constant battle to prevent the area turning to woodland with sapling willows and oaks having to be regularly removed. South of Cove Road, a concrete construction on the Brook has been designed and built specifically to hold back floodwater.
Cross Cove Road with care (it’s very busy) and turn right to across the road bridge. You can stop to read the interpretation board about Cove Village.
The present road bridge (refurbished to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee) replaced a brick arch bridge. Before World War II this overlooked a ford, used by horses and carts (and racing motorbikes). Just north, the Brook runs under the Five Arches railway bridge.
Turn left along Highfield Path and take the alley into Holly Road (formerly Frog Lane), then go left under the railway bridge. Go left again, behind the gardens, arriving at the north side of the five arches bridge and then bear right to meet West Heath Road, cross the road and make your way north beside the Brook.
Pieces of locally made pottery found in the Brook may have originally been used to make a firmer surface for carts along this route. You soon meet Glebe Road which takes its name from the ‘Glebe’ Meadow which made income for the local vicar. Houses now cover other fields which had names such as ‘Great and Little Shoulder of Mutton’. Follow the surfaced path beside the Brook to emerge by the footbridge leading to Giffard Drive.
To your left is Blunden Hall with its solar panels on the roof. The open area here was originally part of a large pasture. There are dipping areas by the Giffard Drive and Houseman Road footbridges, with gavel underfoot and shallower water, but great care is still needed if entering the water. Children should be supervised. The wooden gate on the path to the west of the Houseman Road footbridge leads to the Birch Brook reserve. a meadow and woodland-edge nature area (always open – no dogs please). Further north the Hawley Lake stream joins the Brook, south of the weir. The schools here take their names from the old Cove Manor House and many of the local roads are named after former Lords of the Manor.
The Greenway meanders following the Brook until you reach Mayfield Road. Paths run on both sides of the Brook north from Mayfield Road to the Cheyne Way footbridge. The surfaced path suitable for mobility scooters and push chairs is on the east side of the Brook (on your right as you look north).
The pasture land along here was formerly in small narrow fields. To the west side of the Cheyne Way footbridge is a triangle of scrub and trees with a wildlife pond which tends to be very silty. The Greenway path continues to follow the Brook along the edge of the Moor Road recreation ground to the east of the Brook, passing another large dipping area.
Go under the M3 and enjoy the relatively new hedge of native species which has successfully grown up to disguise the fence and provide food and shelter for wildlife.
The Cove Brook Greenway path ends at Hawley Lane, however the Brook continues to Hawley Meadows where it joins the River Blackwater. To join the Blackwater Valley Path follow Hawley Lane 600m southeast and take the unsigned alley which takes you over the railway.