Converted oast house, Salmans Manor

19-Jun-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Converted oast house, Salmans Manor

19-Jun-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Hole Cottage near Markbeech

20-Jun-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Penshurst Place

30-May-10 • Sean O'Neill

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Penshurst Place

30-May-10 • Sean O'Neill

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Leicester Square, Penshurst

19-Jun-09 • Sean O'Neill

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St John the Baptist Church, Penshurst

19-Jun-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Cowden to Hever walk

A contrast between a remote part of the Weald and three attractive and popular Kent villages


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Mon, 21-Oct-19

Date # Post
Sat, 18-May-19 8

Cowden to Hever


Length: 17km / 10m
Toughness: 4 / 10
Transport: Take the 10:07 from London Bridge, arriving at Cowden at 10:53. Return trains from Hever are at xx.05

This is a very pleasant walk through the High Weald visiting two attractive villages as well as Penshurst Palace, Chiddingstone Castle and Hever Castle along the way.

8 walkers on a calm warm though mainly cloudy day. This proved a perfect day to do this walk. Conditions were dry underfoot. There were fields of rape in bloom, orchards coming along, a few lingering bluebells, Dryads Saddle mushrooms, plus plenty of wild garlic and birdsong. Twice we were treated to the sight a deer in the distance. The Leicester Arms was hosting a wedding party so after a brief liquid lunch we walked on to tea. Two branched off on a short cut to tea at The Henry VIII and the remaining six stopped for refreshment at excellent Tulip Tree cafe in Chiddingstone then on through the grounds of Chiddingstone Castle, which was having an Open Day). All of us met by chance at Hever station in time for the 16.05. A very nice relaxing day out.
Sun, 21-Oct-18 18

Sunday Walk: Cowden to Hever

Difficulty 4 out of 10, 16½ km (10.3 miles)
Wend your way through the undulating landscape of the High Weald. Visit remote valleys, woods and tiny settlements. Descend into the beautiful villages of Penshurst and Chiddingstone before finally reaching Hever. Each village has an interesting church, as well as a historic house open to the public. The walk can be shortened by up to 5km (3 miles) but the shortcuts bypass the villages.
Get the 9:51 East Grinstead train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 9:58, East Croydon 10:09). Change at Oxted onto the 10:38 Uckfield train. Arrive Cowden 10:55.
Return from Hever at xx:07, changing at Hurst Green or Oxted.
Get a return to Cowden.
The attractive Rock Inn (01892-870296) in Hoath Corner is an early option.
The suggested lunch place in Penshurst is the Leicester Arms Hotel (01892-871617).
Nearby, just outside the main entrance to Penshurst Place, the Porcupine Pantry (01892-870307) serves light lunches and afternoon teas.
Later in the walk, you have the Castle Inn (01892-870371) at Chiddingstone.
In Chiddingstone you got The Tulip Tree (01892-871504), behind the Chiddingstone Stores, open to 5pm. You also got the Chiddingstone Castle Tea Room (01892-872746) in the castle grounds (it's accessible without paying).
Last up, you got the King Henry Ⅷ (01732-862457) in Hever village. The station is still 1½ km away and trains are hourly so allow enough time (say, 20-25 minutes).
Optional Features
Penshurst Place is a medieval manor house with an attractive formal garden, admission is £11.50, or £9.50 for the gardens only.
Chiddingstone Castle is a castellated manor house rebuilt in the 19thC, admission is £9.50.
Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, has spectacular gardens, admission is £17.25, or £14.50 for the gardens only.
Walk directions here
We are doing the Main Walk.
I counted 18 names at the station roll call and we all set off in fine and sunny wather although this phrase hardly does justice to the beautiful "last of the summer wine" autumnal glow that we enjoyed all day.

About 6 peeled off to lunch at the Rock in Hoath Corner whilst the rest of us ambled along the gentle trails to Penshurst where most ate outdoors at the Leicester Arms, a couple at the Pantry and a further 2 lunched in a sunny seat in the churchyard.

After lunch the group fragmented a bit and after a short break at Chiddingstone where a small group detoured for a brief "chiding" at the stone we continued on to Hever wher 6 of us stopped for refreshments at the excellent King Henry V111 whose gardens were packed. It looks a great place for a meal. The final short section back to the station ended a superb day out with lots of anarchic chat; a perfect way to spend a sunny and warm autunmnal Sunday.
Sun, 29-Apr-18 9

Sunday Walk – Bluebells in the Weald (Cowden-Hever)

Extra Walk 78 – Cowden to Hever (or Circular)
Length: 16½ km (10.3 miles), with longer and shorter options. Toughness: 4/10

09:47 Lewes train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 09:53), changing at East Croydon (arr 10:09, dep 10:15 from Platform 6) for the Uckfield train and arriving Cowden at 10:53. Buy a return to Cowden (Kent).

If it's more convenient you can travel from London Bridge on the 09:34 Three Bridges train (Norwood Jct 09:46), again changing at East Croydon (arr 09:50).

Trains back are hourly at xx:04 from Cowden and xx:09 from Hever, changing at Oxted for Victoria.

This Wealden walk is noted for both mud and bluebells, and it would be nice to find more of the latter than the former. The full version goes through the attractive village of Penshurst for lunch at the Leicester Arms Hotel, but you've also got the option of the Castle Inn in the next village, Chiddingstone (perhaps after taking the short cut bypassing Penshurst). The Castle Inn re-opened a year ago and has had good feedback. Both places are up-market and likely to be busy, but you should be able to squeeze into their gardens (or call in advance to book a table). As it's a Sunday you should be able to wander freely around the grounds of Chiddingstone Castle, which has also got a nice tearoom if you're stopping for a second round of refreshments in this village.

When you get to Hever you can choose between heading for its station or completing a circular walk back to Cowden. There's a pub in the village and another along the route to Cowden, but note that there's nothing very near either station.

You'll need to bring the directions from the Cowden to Hever walk page. T=swc.78
planning to go anyone else? heavy rain isn't forecast until late afternoon fingers x'ed!
Yes I am planning on going as well so you won't be on your own. Am hoping it will not be too muddy!! Paula
Two walkers met at Victoria. However after the cancellation of two consecutive trains (excuse faulty train) and in the face of the bitter and unseasonal cold, we took this as an omen and returned home.
As noted above Southern were in truculent mood and did their best to prevent anyone joining this walk from central London. As a result two car drivers met only five off the train at Cowden, though two more resourcefully took a later train to Leigh and met others at the lunch pub in Penshurst. So 9 walkers on a cold damp and gloomy day, but thankfully with no rain to speak of.

The starters split up in mid morning with three opting for lunch in Chiddingstone and a circuit back to Cowden. The Penshurst lunchers did much the same length of walk by finishing in Hever. This was not a day for lingering in pub gardens or courtyard tearooms, so there was a reunion on the 4pm train back.

Anyone hoping that last week's heatwave had dispelled the Wealden mud was soon put right, with gloopy stretches around wobbly stiles and along narrow fenced paths. There were plenty of bluebells in the woods but the judges awarded the Flower of the Day award to the ramsons (wild garlic), with thick carpets around every woodland stream spreading up into bluebell territory.
I ended up doing this walk on my own as the rail companies managed to cancel my trains so could not find anyone else by the time got there over an hour later than scheduled.
It was a nice walk but I have to say I found the directions rather difficult to follow I got lost in the woods the right fork completely threw me and I ended up climbing up towards a field until I retraced my steps I would say keep left!! Also at the end I did actually get lost totally at the Hamlet of Hill Hoath where you were meant to vere right but there was a sign saying "private road" on one road on the right and to the left a footpath sign after which I vered right but this took me in completely the wrong direction in the end found a pub and got rescued but to me it was not at all clear at that point some more landmarks would have been very useful. Would be a lovely walk on a sunny day!!Paula
I do not know the details of this walk, but would just like to say that it is not uncommon to find “private road”’signs on a right of way. Ignore such signs. Nearly all rights of way are across private land. The ownership of the land or the views of the land owner are irrelevant. It is a RIGHT of WAY for walkers. This sign was probably directed at car drivers anyway.
Sat, 10-Jun-17 40

Cowden to Hever - a Kentish castles walk

SWC walk 78 - Cowden to Hever
Length: 16.5km (10.3 miles) with options to lengthen or shorten
Toughness: 4 out of 10

10.08 train from London Bridge (10.23 East Croydon) to Cowden, arriving 10.53

Buy a day return to Cowden

For walk directions click here

There is lots of historical interest on this walk, and plenty of gentle ups and downs, wood and pasture. The walk directions contain two possible short cuts - missing out either Penshurst or Chiddingstone - and a longer option of finishing back at Cowden.

The most obvious lunch stop is the Leicester Arms in Penshurst and you might want to spend the afternoon visiting Penshurst Place with its Elizabethan Garden (used in filming Wolf Hall: bus 231/233 goes from Penshurst to Edenbridge at 17.10 and 18.09: it takes 25 minutes and serves a stop close to Edenbridge Town station, from where your Cowden return is valid to London).

Or you can cut out Penshurst altogether and lunch at the newly reopened Castle Inn in Chiddingstone. Sadly the adjacent Chiddingstone Castle is not open on Saturdays, but on this 13km/8 mile version of the walk you might have time and energy to fit in a visit to wonderful Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, towards the end.

If you have not had lunch at Chiddingstone, the Tulip Tree tea room there is recommended - gorgeous cakes. Otherwise, there is a pub in Hever and one on the Cowden extension too.

Trains back are at 01 past from Cowden, serving Hever at 05 past.
40 on this walk with glorious sunny weather with an occasional breeze making it perfect weather for this walk with open stretches and shady woods.
Lots of us arrived at the Leicester Arms around the same time and they handled the influx of something like 25 of us with aplomb ( just looked it up to see if it was the right word and it is self confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation ), courtesy, enthusiasm, efficiency and friendliness hats off to the staff and I will pop up a note on trip advisor for them as well.
One day all pubs will be this good.
Other than that there is little to report as as far as I know the walk went off without incident ( well much like most of our walks really ).
Good views, gentle hills and occasional loud voices about recent political developments.
Swift halves, a glass or two of wine, tea / coffee and cake ( dessert really ) at the Henry VIII about 20 minutes before the station topped off the day nicely for about 20 of us.
Generalismo Ovaeata
Sat, 10-Sep-16 14

Saturday Second Walk - Wolf Hall territory in the High Weald

SWC walk 78 - Cowden to Hever
Length: 16.6km (10.3 miles), with possible extension to 19.5km (12.1 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

10.08 train from London Bridge (10.23 East Croydon), to Cowden, arriving 10.53

Buy a day return to Cowden.

For walk directions click here.

The High Weald between Hever and Penshurst has always been popular with the SWC, so much so that we probably visited it too much a couple of years back. A reaction then seems to have set in, because none of the walks has had an airing for some time.

In particular, this variant has not had an outing since October 2014, if our resident statistician is to be believed, and so deserves one now. It takes some familiar building blocks - the villages of Penshurst and Chiddingstone, the attractive Rock Inn in Hoath Corner - and assembles them in a different order.

Since we are still (just about) in the long lazy days of summer, you might even have time to visit one of the attractions on the walk - particularly the Elizabethan mansion of Penshurst Place (Wolf Hall territory), and perhaps, if you do one or both of the shortcuts, Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn). (Chiddingstone Castle is annoyingly closed on Saturdays.)

As a walk poster one gets lots of moans - too many long walks, not enough long walks, too many confusing options, winter walks posted in winter, swimming walks posted or not posted etc - but this walk is well designed to please all tastes. The main walk is a reasonable 10.3 miles, and you don't have to decide until near the end of it if you want to do the longer option (12.1 miles) - a circular route back to Cowden. Meanwhile there are two sneaky short cuts on the main walk which save a mile or two and might enable slower walkers to catch up with their speedier comrades.

For details of the various lunch and tea options see the walk document. Travel is by Southern Railways, so let's hope they behave themselves. The train starts from London Bridge, whose new underground concourse is worth a look.

Trains back from Hever are at 05 past the hour (until 22.05): from Cowden they are 01 past the hour.
"winter walks posted in winter"!! This is clearly unacceptable (;>)
What time from clapham?
I agree Pete B certainly broken my rule
14 on this walk and despite downbeat weather forecast it was cloudy but warm and not wet till 4pm. Nice to be in the Weald again a time of year when the paths are not muddy, but the cloud and fallen leaves make it feel a bit autumnal decidedly so for the two of us who opted for the longer circular walk in what was by then steady rain.

Lunch at the Leicester Arms was.....hmm. The staff were friendly but the soup was a disgrace water laced with oil and vinegar, according to my companion, and no hint of the supposed tomato flavouring. I found the menu choices disappointing and had fish and chips (admittedly nicely cooked) faut de mieux. On the plus side we had the outside terraces to ourselves.

Three of us stopped for tea at the Chiddingstone tea room. What happened to the rest of you? Having been nagged by my companions into having a vast slab of chocolate fudge cake truly a giant piece I am now on a diet for a month. It was in a vain attempt to use up some of the calories from this that I did the longer walk option.

Southern need to sort out the train indicators at Cowden, which indicated a London Bridge train, only for one going in the opposite direction to pull in at the single platform. Luckily I know north from south. The London train then disappeared from the indicator, with only the one an hour later showing, but did materialise five minutes later. On the plus side this may be the first Southern journey I have taken since May in which neither outward or return train was cancelled or terminated early....
Another four of us left Hever at 3.30 to do the longer walk option, two stopping at Markbeech for a quick half, and we all got the 5.01 train from Cowden station together with a fifth walker from another subgroup. We left three people in the King Henry in Hever. A very nice day out.
I was one of the three in The Henry. 16.05 from Hever after refreshment delightful
Sat, 25-Oct-14 35 Cowden to Hever
Sun, 18-Aug-13 10 Cowden to Hever
Sat, 17-Mar-12 Cowden to Hever
Sun, 13-Nov-11 Cowden to Hever, omitting Penshurst
Sun, 13-Nov-11 Cowden Circular, omitting Penshurst
Sat, 21-Aug-10 Cowden Circular, omitting Chiddingstone
Wed, 05-May-10 Cowden Circular (short walk) - withdrawn
Sun, 11-Apr-10 Cowden to Hever
Sun, 16-Aug-09 Cowden to Hever