SWC Walk 20 : Sevenoaks to Westerham
Knole Park, then west along the Greensand Way with spectacular views of the Kent Weald.
18.8km (11.7 miles) Including detour to lunch pub in Sevenoaks Weald: 19.8km (12.3 miles)
7 out of 10: quite hilly in places
OS Explorer 147, OS Landranger 188
The first mile of this walk is on suburban streets in Sevenoaks, and then there is a two mile stroll across the deer park of Knole House. A slightly awkward section follows, crossing a busy A road and following a rough bridleway that can be very muddy in winter. There is also noise from a nearby dual carriageway on this section, though there are fine escarpment views too.
It is worth putting up with these inconveniences, however, because once you cross the dual carriageway (on a bridge), the traffic noise ceases and you find yourself in a beautiful area of undulating fields and farms that is as lovely as anywhere in England. One of the two possible lunch pubs is in the village of Sevenoaks Weald, at the start of this section. The route then climbs in stages up onto the Greensand Ridge, with increasingly fine views to the south.
Once on the ridge you are plunged into woods that in late April and early May are awash with bluebells - this is one of the best places in the South East to see them. You end up at the picturesque hill top village of Ide Hill, where the second of the lunch pubs is situated.
After this the route turns north-west, passing through the National Trust's Emmetts Gardens on a public footpath that also runs right past its tea room. The final section of the walk is in the woodlands of The Chart, before a fine descent down a hill into the village of Westerham which has plenty of tea possibilities and London Transport buses back to London.
There are several trains an hour from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge to Sevenoaks, taking 30-35 minutes from Charing Cross, 22 minutes from London Bridge. Which you take depends on where you aim to have lunch. It is 13km (8 miles) to the Cock Inn in Ide Hill, and so if you intend to eat there get a train not much later than 9.30am. If aiming to eat in The Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald, you could potentially get a train as late as 10.30am.
At the end of the walk, Westerham is not on the railway, but it is served by a London Transport bus, the 246, which runs at least hourly till midnight seven days a week (twice an hour until 6pm Monday to Saturday). You can use Oyster cards on this bus, and will be charged just the normal single London bus fare for the whole journey. LT travelcards are also accepted. The bus takes 43 minutes to get to Bromley South station, from where there are frequent (20 minutes) trains to Victoria. A day return to Sevenoaks is valid on this service, as Bromley South is on the Blackfriars-Oxted route to Sevenoaks.
You can also get off the 246 bus at Hayes station (31 minutes from Westerham), from where there are trains every fifteen minutes to London Bridge and Cannon Street or Charing Cross, taking 38 minutes, but your Sevenoaks return will not be valid for this.
Lastly, there is a 401 bus from Westerham to Sevenoaks station. Currently this goes at 9 minutes past the hour until 19.09 Monday to Thursday, until 16.09 on Saturday, and at 16.34 and 18.34 on Sunday. This bus takes 23 minutes and so would give you about the same journey times to central London as taking the 246.
|Lunch and Tea||
There is a choice of two pubs on this walk, but both are fairly modest in size, and so a large group of walkers should split themselves between the two. In extremis, the National Trust tea room in Emmetts Garden, 1.7km (1.1 miles) after Ide Hill does soup and sandwiches.
The Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald (01732 463330) is a pleasant and comfortable pub, which has a varied and high quality food menu. It's relatively modest size means it would probably struggle to accommodate a group of much over 8 people, however. Food is served 12-2.30pm on Monday to Friday, 12-9pm on Saturday and 12-4pm on Sunday. The pub is open for drinks all afternoon.
The Cock Inn in Ide Hill (01732 750310), 13km (8 miles) into the walk, has a rough and ready air about it (it is probably not the kind of pub where you can book a table), but now offers an extensive food menu from 12-3pm Monday to Saturday and 12-4pm Sunday. It is open all afternoon for drinks (in summer at least) and has a fair number of outside tables which in fine weather double its capacity.
The tea room at National-Trust run Emmetts Garden, 14.7km (9.1 miles) into the walk, is a possible early tea stop or late lunch stop (it serves soup and sandwiches). It is open until 5pm from March to October, and until 4pm in November and early December - see www.nationaltrust.org.uk for details
On the green in the centre of Westerham the Tudor Tea Rooms are open until 5pm daily (in summer at least), while Food for Thought at the east end of the green does cream teas till 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8pm on Friday, and 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Costa Coffee at the west end of the green, is open till 7pm Monday to Friday and 6pm at weekends. Close to it is the Grasshopper on the Green pub, and Westerham also has other fine pubs.
For picnics, the green outside The Windmill in Westerham is pleasant enough, but a diversion off the main walk route. If you can wait, there are some fine spots in paragraphs 42 (at the top of the field) 51 and 52 of the walk directions. The green at Ide Hill is also very pre
|Credits||Completely rewritten in 2013 from an original walk © A J Kennedy 2007|
After the walk, we would really appreciate your comments
Out: (not a train station)
Finish: Westerham, Kent
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Walking directions for this walk are below, and in a PDF file (link above).
- For use in conjunction with a map and compass. This is the recommended route. Of course with the map you can take any route you want.
- From Sevenoaks Station, ignoring two forks off to the left head in a south easterly direction uphill for 1 km into Sevenoaks Town Centre.
- Turn sharp east and find your way into Knole Park, preferably via Buckhurst Lane and Sevenoaks Leisure Centre. Upon entering Knole Park navigate to the North Side of Knole House where you will find a Tea Room and public conveniences.
- Continue south east along the north side of Knole House until you reach The Broad Walk running alsmost due south. Follow this until you hit the boundary of the minor road at River Hill, heading south west. Keen map and compass readers can avoid the tarmaced Broad Walk and navigate through the plantation to the west of the Walk having entered through a wire mesh gate near the south east corner of Knole House Gardens
- Cross the A225 major road (! potentially hazardous crossing) which snakes in a south easterly direction to pick up the Greeensand Way again heading west over Beechmont Bank. (This is the most tedious part of the walk but unavoidable.)
- After 1 km take the footpath turning south to shortly cross the A21 road via a tunnel. (Hint - keep to the left of the hedges once having turned south). The walk improves again after the tunnel.
- For an early lunch at the Windmill Pub (Ref: 527509) head for the Church and walk into Sevenoaks Weald Village, keeping to its western edge heading for the PO marked on the map. Else head for the church and then north along the road to continue on the Greensand Way
- Regaining the Greensand Way, head in a west north westerly direction via Wickhurst Manor, Hatchlands Farm, Brookhill Woods and Stubbs Wood (Beauty spot). Proceed to The Cock Inn at Ide Hill (Ref: 487518)
- Turn left (East) out of the Cock Inn and proceed in a northerly direction along a small residential road, where there is an unexpected view of the North Downs, towards Cordons Farm but before the farm, turn west along a lane at point 487 525 to head towards Emmetts Gardens where there is an optional tea stop and public conveniences.
- Walk straight past the tea stop and towards the area called The Chart. After reaching the boundary of the minor road you emerge opposite the new entrance to a property called The Phillipines. 100 metres along the road turn north west along the boundary of the property and the NT land, on an unmarked path to emerge after 150 metres onto the old driveawy to the Phillipines. Continue westwards until this meets another driveway coming from the east and then a minor road leading north. After 50 metres take the F.P. leading west towards Frenchstreet. (Ref:488528) initially downhill and then steeply uphill.
- 250 metres after you join the lane called French Street, take the footpath heading initially south (! esily missed) but soon veering westwards. This path will take you past old stone quarry workings (for either Kentish Ragstone or Greensand Weald Stone) and a Bat Cave with an information board. The path emerges back onto the road you just left.
- Continue to join the B2026. Head north along that road and slightly downhillfor 150 metres, then cross over to take the F.P. that passes Glebe House and thence by the middle path into Westerham, the Village Green and (more) tea.