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Darnley Mausoleum

07-Sep-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Wildflower meadow above Luddesdown

16-Jun-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Wouldham church on the far bank of the River Medway

07-Sep-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Distant view of the Medway River Crossings

20-Apr-13 • Sean O'Neill

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Brooke Tomb, Cobham church

07-Jun-14 • Sean O'Neill

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White horse, yellow field

White horse, yellow field

Cuxton Circular

29-Apr-17 • moontiger on Flickr

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St Mary Magdalene church, Cobham

16-Jun-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Cuxton to Halling walk

Cobham Park and the newly-restored Darnley Mausoleum, organic farms and nature reserves

Cuxton to Halling
Length

Main Walk: 18 km (11.2 miles). Four hours 45 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.

Circular Walk, returning to Cuxton: 17¼ km (10.7 miles). Four hours 30 minutes walking time.

Extended Walk, finishing in Snodland: 19½ km (12.1 miles). Five hours 5 minutes walking time.

OS Map

Explorer 148. Cuxton, map reference TQ714667, is in Kent, 3½ km SW of Rochester.

Toughness

6 out of 10.

Features

This walk takes in a surprisingly varied landscape around the Medway Gap, where the North Downs have been breached by the river. There are many old chalk quarries here, but the processing and cement manufacturing plants have closed and Snodland's paper mill is the only major survivor of the area's industrial past. Holborough Lakes (between Halling and Snodland) is a large new housing development on some of these abandoned quarries.

Near the start of the walk you go through a local nature reserve, then across undulating rural farmland. A steady climb takes you over the chalk grassland of Ranscombe Farm Reserve, a working farm managed by the charity Plantlife. The final part of the morning section is through Cobham Park, where the landscape is gradually being restored to Humphry Repton's original design (and the neo-classical Darnley Mausoleum is occasionally open to the public).

Lunch is in the attractive village of Cobham, well-known for its associations with Charles Dickens: the Leather Bottle is one of the coaching inns mentioned in The Pickwick Papers. The village has a fine parish church whose most striking feature is the Brooke Tomb in the chancel, although most visitors come to admire its magnificent collection of medieval brasses in the pavement in front of the tomb, an astonishing survival when so much was lost in the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17thC.

After lunch you go through the village of Luddesdown (pronounced Ludsdun) which has an equally interesting and quite different parish church, then along an open valley which is part of Luddesdown Organic Farms. You climb over a wooded part of the North Downs and make a gradual descent into the village of Halling (pronounced Hauling), with fine views across the Medway Valley. The final part of the full walk is a contrasting short loop around Halling Common on the banks of the River Medway.

Additional Notes

Two alternative (and more direct) routes between Luddesdown and Halling were researched in order to reduce this walk's overlaps with Extra Walk 35 (Cuxton to Sole Street) and Book 2 Walk 17a (Sole Street Circular), but both proved unsuitable. Intentionally or not, the public footpaths were well-concealed at the start and the routes themselves – through private woodland littered with “Keep Out” signs – were neither particularly appealing nor easy to follow.

Walk Options

In 2013 a right of way was reinstated around Halling Salt Marsh, allowing you to extend the final loop alongside the Medway by a further 1 km. Conversely, you could cut out the river loop altogether and head directly for Halling station, saving about 1½ km.

For convenience, directions are also given for a Circular Walk back to Cuxton station; this is simply the reverse of the shorter start to Extra Walk 35. There is no riverside route from Halling to Cuxton, so you have to switch to this option earlier in the afternoon section.

An Extended Walk to Snodland station via Holborough Marshes (a Kent Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve) was disrupted by the construction of a new Medway River Crossing in 2015/16. This has now been completed but the riverside route used (some of it on permissive paths) is no longer possible. This ending might be restored if a suitable alternative can be found.

If you want to abandon the walk after lunch you could head for Sole Street station, 2 km from Cobham (see Extra Walk 35) or 1 km from Henley Street (see Book 2 Walk 17). There are also occasional buses from Cobham to this station.

Transport

Cuxton, Halling and Snodland are stations on the Medway Valley line between Strood and Maidstone, with Cuxton the nearest to London. From central London it is best to travel via Strood; the fastest route is from St Pancras on the High Speed Train, taking 45-50 minutes. You can also travel from Charing Cross but the journey time is much longer. There is a half-hourly service on both routes (hourly on Sundays). Buy a return to the station where you plan to finish.

If driving, roadside parking is available near all three stations. Snodland has a small car park at the station and a larger one in the town centre (both free).

Suggested Train

Take the train nearest to 10:20 from St Pancras (or 09:40 from Charing Cross) to Cuxton, in both cases changing at Strood.

Train Times

Lunch

There are three pubs along the main street through Cobham, 7¼ km into the walk. In the order in which you pass them they are the Ship Inn (01474-814326), the Darnley Arms (01474-814218) and the Dickensian Leather Bottle (01474-814327). If you want to eat slightly later you could make a short detour to the Cock Inn (01474-814208) in Henley Street.

Tea

There are pubs and convenience stores near all three stations but not much else. The suggested tea place in Halling is the friendly Homeward Bound pub (01634-240743); it serves tea and coffee and has a small patio at the back. At the junction of the High Street and Ferry Road there is a convenience store and the Five Bells pub (01634-240523), which incorporates an Indian restaurant.

Cuxton has the White Hart pub (01634-711857) at the top of Station Road, while a short detour will take you past a mini-market in the village.

The Snodland ending goes directly to the station and you would have to make a short detour into the town centre for another refreshment stop. Its pubs are the Bull Inn (01634-240491) at the central crossroads and the Monks Head (01634-240477) at the bottom of Constitution Hill, and there are two Co-operative stores in the High Street. The Medway Bakery opposite the Bull Inn has a tearoom “open shop hours”, but this doesn't appear to extend beyond mid-afternoon.

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Trains

Out: (not a train station)

Back: (not a train station)

By Car

Start: ME2 1AB Directions then return to your car by train:

Finish: ME1 1BN Directions then travel to the start by train:

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Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jun-17

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Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Cuxton to Halling

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map: Cuxton to Halling Walk Map

Walk Options

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (18 km)
  1. Circular Walk, returning to Cuxton (17¼ km)
  2. Extended Walk, finishing in Snodland (19½ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

  1. Cuxton Station to Upper Bush (2½ km)
  2. Go along Station Road and turn left onto the A228. Go through the churchyard and take the footpath heading west, initially along a wooded hillside and then around field edges to join the North Downs Way at Upper Bush.

    Arriving from Strood, cross the footbridge at the front of the platform and go down Station Road, heading away from a marina on the River Medway. Follow the road round to the left and out to the A228, passing the White Hart pub at the road junction. Turn left and go uphill on the main road for 200m, crossing over at some point.

    At a sign for the church, bear right off the A228 onto a tarmac path between hedges which leads into the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels1. Follow the path round to the right in front of the church and leave via a wooden gate. Keep ahead past a “Nature Reserve” sign to enter Six Acre Community Wood, with Cuxton village in the valley down to your right. Ignore paths off to both sides to head W on a level path along the wooded hillside, which in 400m leads into a large irregularly shaped field.

    Turn left and follow the field edge around several corners for 500m, ignoring a footpath back into the wood at the first corner. Leave the field in its top corner, going past a footpath post onto a short path through some trees. At a path T-junction (in front of a metal fieldgate) turn right to go downhill on a chalky path. In 150m cross the driveway to the large new house away to your left and continue in the same direction for a further 500m, alongside or at times just inside the wood on your right, and soon with open fields on your left.

    As you approach the field corner go across a grassy farm track and bear right to join a footpath coming in from the left. Follow this up a short slope and past some attractive 14thC cottages in the hamlet of Upper Bush. Just before you join a lane at a bend, a milestone on your left indicates that you are now (briefly) on the North Downs Way2 (NDW).

  3. Upper Bush to the Darnley Mausoleum (2¼ km)
  4. Fork left off the NDW onto a footpath heading north through Lower Bush. Go under a railway line and uphill through a meadow towards woodland. Go across a valley and continue to head north to meet the main path running east-west along the top of Cobham Park. Turn left to reach the Darnley Mausoleum.

    Head NE along the lane for 200m. Where it bends left, bear right into a field. Leave the NDW (which goes diagonally across the field) by taking the left-hand footpath, along the field edge and underneath power cables. This comes out onto a lane opposite a large new house, North Downs Barn.

    Turn left briefly onto the lane to pass the house and turn right onto a track, signposted as a public footpath. Climb uphill towards a railway line, going through several gates and under a brick bridge to enter Ranscombe Farm Reserve3. Continue in the same direction on a wide grassy path through a meadow, still climbing.

    Near the top of the hill the path bears right and you continue briefly with a wood on your left. In the corner of the meadow bear left past a fieldgate to go through a wide gap in the trees. Continue on a clear path heading N for 300m across a shallow valley, keeping ahead at a path crossing at the bottom.

    On the far side fork left just inside the wood, initially following a blue arrow. Almost immediately ignore permissive bridleways off to both sides to follow a footpath (yellow arrow) climbing gently through the wood, still heading N. The path eventually levels out and comes to an unsurfaced track at a break in the wood. Turn left onto this track to head W towards a metal fieldgate in front of a cattle grid.

    Go through a side gate and continue in the same direction on a broad grassy path through the attractive woodland of Cobham Park4, which contains some fine old trees. In 400m you come to an imposing monument in Portland stone, the Darnley Mausoleum5.

  5. The Darnley Mausoleum to Cobham (2½ km)
  6. Continue to head west through Cobham Park. Go past Lodge Farm onto Lodge Lane and continue along Cobham's High Street towards the church.

    For the simplest route, continue past the monument and head W along the main path (now an unsurfaced track again) for a further 650m.

    There are several tempting grassy paths away from this main path and you can explore any of them if you wish, although as you drop down from the ridge they can be boggy in places. You will need to make your way back to the main path in order to leave the parkland.

    Just before you reach another gate and cattle grid you might be able to glimpse the baroque cupolas of Cobham Hall6, nestling in the trees ahead on your right. Leave the parkland through a metal side gate and continue along the track for 700m, now between tall hedges. Eventually you come to a thatched cottage at Lodge Farm and go through another metal side gate onto Lodge Lane.

    Head W along this lane for 700m to reach a road junction on the outskirts of Cobham, with the village's War Memorial on your left and an avenue of lime trees heading back towards Cobham Hall. Continue in the same direction along The Street, passing three possible lunchtime pubs on your right in the next 400m: the Ship Inn, the Darnley Arms and finally the Dickensian Leather Bottle7.

  7. Cobham to Luddesdown (2½ km)
  8. Go through the churchyard and take the footpath heading south. Briefly join a lane to go back over the railway and then downhill to Henley Street. Take the footpath heading south-east over Henley Down into Luddesdown.

    Make your way into the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene8 (which is well worth visiting), opposite the Leather Bottle. Go past the church tower on a path heading S, passing the almshouses of the New College of Cobham9 (which you can also visit). In a copse ignore paths off to both sides and keep ahead through a small cemetery. On the far side go through a metal gate into the corner of a large field.

    Go all the way down the right-hand field edge, with orchards behind the hedge on your right. In the corner go out onto a lane and follow it over the railway, then turn right onto a signposted footpath. Follow the path round to the left and then past some paddocks on your right. In the next corner bear left and go through a couple of metal gates into another paddock, dotted with trees. On the far side go through a metal gate on the right into the top corner of a large field.

    Head slightly to the right down this field; if there is no clear path aim for a point about 100m to the right of the bottom left-hand corner. Continue down a short path between houses to a minor road (Henley Street).

    The walk continues to the left, but follow the detour below if you want to visit the pub in this small village.

    • Detour to the Cock Inn (+500m)
    • Turn right and go along the lane for 250m; the pub is on the left. Return the same way and continue briefly past the footpath from Cobham.

    If not visiting the pub turn left briefly onto the lane, then almost immediately turn right at a footpath sign. Go over a stile into a field and turn half-left to go diagonally uphill towards a copse. Go through this via a pair of stiles and continue in the same direction across a larger field, still climbing. As you go over the brow of the hill look for a wooden gate in the hedge ahead and go through this to emerge onto the top of another large field, with a cricket pitch in the valley below.

    Go straight downhill, passing to the right of the cricket pitch and continuing up to a lane. Bear left to go along the right-hand side of a small triangular green with the Luddesdown village sign, joining the Wealdway10. Go up to the start of a cobbled street (shown as a Private Road but also a public footpath), with the churchyard of Ss Peter and Paul11 on your right.

    The church is worth visiting if a sign shows that it is open; a gate opposite its entrance on the far side lets you return to this cobbled street.

  9. Luddesdown to Great Buckland (2 km)
  10. Follow the Wealdway as it heads south-east and then south along an open valley to Great Buckland.

    Unless you are visiting the church, go straight ahead on the cobbled street. Just after it curves right and before the entrance to Luddesdown Organic Farms12, turn left through a wooden gate. Go down a small field, then up the left-hand side of a larger one. Veer right at the top of the second field towards a stile and metal fieldgate 75m away in the hedge on your left.

    Go over the stile and turn right, heading S along the top of a field. In 100m go over a stile and continue in the same direction for a further 400m, initially with a hedge on your right and then straight across a projecting part of the field. On the far side go over a stile and head for another one 75m away in the hedge on your left.

    Go over this and continue on a clear path for 750m across two more large fields, still heading S. Eventually the path leads you over a stile and up a bank to a lane, where you turn right. In 30m fork left, leaving the Wealdway.

  11. Great Buckland to Horseholders Wood (1½ km)
  12. Head south briefly on the lane and take the bridleway heading east, uphill. Join the North Downs Way and follow it eastwards for just over 1 km through a mixed landscape of fields and woodland, to the middle of the third field where there is a path crossing.

    Continue along the lane for 150m, then turn left onto a signposted bridleway. Follow this steeply uphill for 300m to a byway. Go straight across this, making your way past some vehicle-blocking metal railings. Immediately veer left through a gap in the trees into the corner of a large field, joining the North Downs Way2 (NDW) again.

    Follow a clear track diagonally across the field, heading NE. On the far side follow the track briefly up and round to the right, then go over a metal stile in the hedge on your left. Go straight across another track and over a stile onto a woodland path, now heading E.

    The path leads into a second large field and again you follow a clear path diagonally across it. On the far side go though a metal kissing gate, across a track and into a wood. Ignore a fork to the right (marked Private) and go through a wooden gate, still heading E. In 200m fork left at a footpath post, staying on the NDW.

    Unless you are returning to Cuxton you could in fact take the right fork here, which is about 250m shorter than the suggested route. The path is quite faint and you would need to follow the yellow waymarkers carefully; it also involves a steep and slippery descent. If you do take this short cut, rejoin the directions at [•] in the next section.

    On the main route the woodland path leads into a third large field. Once again you start by following a clear path diagonally across it, but this time go up to a path junction in the middle of the field, marked by a footpath post.

    If you are doing the Circular Walk back to Cuxton, go to §9.

  13. Horseholders Wood to Halling High Street (3 km)
  14. Turn right at the path crossing to leave the NDW. Follow the path as it curves right to go down the wooded hillside, then between fields to Chapel Lane. Follow this into Upper Halling and continue through the village to take the left-hand of two footpaths, heading east. On reaching the A228 turn left to go alongside it for 250m, then turn right to cross it on a bridge and continue over the railway into Halling's High Street. To break for tea at this point, turn left for the Homeward Bound pub.

    For Halling (and Snodland) turn right at the path crossing, leaving the NDW and heading SE. The path soon swerves right to continue just inside a belt of trees. Near the corner of the field fork right at a footpath post and follow the path downhill and round to the right. After a steep descent down the wooded hillside for about 150m it curves left and a faint path (the short cut mentioned in the previous section) joins from the right.

    [•] Continue downhill on a narrow path in a belt of trees between fields (if this is overgrown, try the field edge on your right). Eventually the path comes out onto the right-hand field and you continue up its edge to meet a minor road (Chapel Lane) at a bend, with a fine view of the Medway River Crossing13 5 km off to the left. The footpath turns left but you go straight ahead onto the lane and follow it gently downhill for 350m to a crossroads in Upper Halling, with Chapel Cottages14 opposite a long-closed pub.

    Go straight on at the crossroads into Meadow Crescent, then across a grassy area past a crescent of houses. Where the road on the far side curves left, keep ahead on Barn Meadow. At the end of this cul-de-sac simply continue on a path heading E for just over 1 km, mostly between hedges or fences but sometimes with an open field on your right, until you reach the A228.

    Just in front of the main road turn left onto a track running parallel to it. This gradually climbs above the road and in 250m (where you meet a tarmac path coming from the other direction) turn sharp right to cross the A228 on a bridge. Follow the lane round a few bends, past a cemetery, over a railway and down to Halling15 High Street.

    The final part of the full walk continues down Ferry Road, off to the right, but to break for tea at this point (or to head directly for the station) turn left; the Homeward Bound pub is on the left, 75m away.

    If you are doing the Extended Walk and finishing in Snodland, go to §10.

  15. Halling High Street to the Station (1¾ or 2¾ km)
  16. Halling Unless you want to head directly to the station, retrace your steps along the High Street and turn left down Ferry Road. At the bottom turn left to go alongside the River Medway to Halling Common and continue on a low riverside embankment. Opposite Wouldham church either turn left onto a track which leads into Marsh Road, or continue alongside the river and loop back around Halling Salt Marsh on a newly-reinstated footpath. At the top of Marsh Road turn right to go over the railway and turn right again for the station.

    The station is only 300m from the Homeward Bound. If you want to cut out the riverside loop, turn left out of the pub and continue along the High Street; the station's access road is on the right after you cross the railway.

    Turn right out of the pub and retrace your steps along the High Street, passing a Community Centre and a convenience store on the left. Opposite the Five Bells pub turn left into Ferry Road, alongside the churchyard of St John the Baptist16 (with a surviving wall of the Bishop's Palace17 at the end). The road leads to a small open space overlooking the River Medway18.

    Halling To finish at Halling station turn left alongside the river, with Maximilian Drive on your left. At the end of this short riverside walk veer left across an open space towards a stile a little way in from the riverbank. Go over this onto Halling Common and continue along a low embankment for 500m, eventually going over a stile directly across the river from Wouldham church.

    A right of way continues alongside the river and in 2013 a blocked footpath looping back between Halling's Salt Marsh and Fresh Marsh was reinstated after a public enquiry. This extended route in §8b is only recommended in dry conditions as the last part can be extremely muddy.

    1. Main route
    2. For the direct route, turn left onto a track heading W back to Halling. In 250m the extension rejoins from a narrow path on the right.

    3. Extension around Halling Salt Marsh (+1 km)
    4. For the longer route continue along the embankment for a further 750m. The path winds around a small inlet and then Halling Salt Marsh is on your left. Later the embankment gradually curves left, away from the river, and ends by some thick scrub where a stile takes you onto the return route, a narrow path between hedges. In 400m the path turns sharply right, then in a further 150m goes up a small bank and through a gate onto a track, where you turn right to rejoin the direct route.

    Go through a wooden kissing gate to the right of a fieldgate and follow the unsurfaced lane (Marsh Road) for 400m to its junction with the High Street. You have a second chance to visit the Homeward Bound pub (150m away on the left), but for the station turn right onto the main road. Cross over the railway and in 75m turn right into the station's access road. The platform on the near side is for trains to Strood.

  17. Horseholders Wood to Cuxton Station (4 km)
  18. Cuxton Remain on the NDW for 2 km, now heading north-east through woodland. Where the NDW turns left, keep ahead along the woodland path for a further 1 km, emerging at the top of Church Hill. Go downhill towards the church and retrace your outward route down the A228 to the White Hart and along Station Road (or take a slightly longer route to go past a convenience store in the village).

    For Cuxton keep ahead at the path junction in the middle of the field; you will be staying on the NDW for a further 2 km. In the far corner go back into woodland and fork left at a path junction, now heading NE.

    In 400m there is a field behind the trees on your left. At the end of this keep ahead at a path crossing, then follow the NDW as it swerves right and left to head NE again. In a further 300m the NDW goes across a more open area under overhead cables, then back into woodland.

    In 750m keep ahead at a staggered path junction, ignoring a footpath off to the right and finally leaving the NDW which goes down a long flight of steps on the left.

    In 700m ignore a footpath on the left, and 250m later keep ahead at a path crossing. At a third path junction soon afterwards, where you can see the end of the wood ahead, fork right. Continue through a metal kissing gate to emerge onto the top of Church Hill, with a fine view of the Medway River Crossing13 ahead, 2 km away.

    Continue downhill in the same direction, initially on an enclosed path between trees, then through a gate and down a broad grassy path towards Cuxton's church tower, just visible above some trees. Go through a wooden kissing gate into the trees and keep left, with the churchyard's low brick wall on your right. Shortly before a gate leading into the churchyard, the path forks.

    For the shortest route to the station, which also passes a pub, you can simply retrace your outward route. If you want to buy something at a convenience store in the village, take the slightly longer route in §9b.

      Cuxton
    1. Direct route
    2. Fork right and go through the gate into the churchyard. Follow the path round to the left and out to the A228. The White Hart pub is 200m down the hill, at the junction with Station Road.

    3. Village route (+250m)
    4. Fork left and go straight across your outward route at the next path junction. After going down a short flight of steps and round to the left, fork right at the edge of the wood to go down more steps and along a tarmac path to a residential street. Go across this (slightly to the left) and down Wood Street to a T-junction with Bush Road, where the Cuxton mini-market is directly opposite.

      To continue the walk, head E along Bush Road (ie. turn left out of the shop) to reach the A228 in 300m. Cross the main road at the pedestrian traffic lights and turn right for Station Road and the White Hart pub.

    The station is 300m from the pub, at the end of Station Road. Towards the end you can either follow the road round a sharp right-hand bend to reach it by the level crossing, or keep ahead past barriers into the old car park where a marked pedestrian route bends right and leads onto the platform for trains to Strood.

  19. Halling High Street to Holborough Marshes (1¼ km)
  20. Retrace your steps along the High Street and turn left down Ferry Road. At the bottom turn right onto a path between the River Medway and some new housing. At the end of the houses continue on an unofficial path below a mound, then onto some rough grassland. Bear right to head away from the river to come to an unsurfaced area near a railway bridge, on the edge of the Kent Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve.

    To finish at Snodland station turn right onto the riverside path. Ignore several paths leading off to the new housing on your right, staying close to the river. In 600m the tarmac path turns right and there is no obvious way forward, but press on across the patch of grass between the river and a few houses to find a narrow path into the undergrowth, just to the left of the first house.

    There are no defined rights of way for the next stretch and if construction work is taking place ahead then the route across the rough grassland may well be blocked. When last checked it was still being used by locals; if necessary, ask a friendly dog-walker for the best way to get to Holborough Marshes!

    Follow a narrow path close to the river, with a mound up to your right. As you pass the end of the mound the path veers right and then left to go alongside some trees. At the end of these follow it up a short slope and make your way over a low fence onto some rough grassland.

    Continue on a faint path curving round to the right, again with trees just off to your right. Up ahead on your left you will see another low fence in front of an unsurfaced triangular area; either go past a ruined concrete building and turn sharp left in front of a locked metal gate, or veer left and go through any gap in the fence directly onto it.

  21. Holborough Marshes to Snodland Station (2 or 1½ or 2¼ km)
  22. Snodland There is a choice of routes around the Nature Reserve. The simplest is to start by heading south alongside the railway; after 500m the suggested route is to take the public footpath looping around the marshes. The longest route heads immediately for the River Medway and continues past an old wharf and along an embankment to join the public footpath at the marshes; this leads back towards the railway and all routes continue along Church Field to the station. For refreshments at the end of the walk you would need to make a detour into the town centre.

    The unsurfaced area is in the north-west corner of the Holborough Marshes19 Nature Reserve and there is a choice of routes to complete the walk.

    The main route (§11a) heads south alongside the railway, then after 500m takes a short loop around the marshes; the direct route (§11b) simply continues alongside the railway at this point. The longer route (§11c) heads immediately towards the River Medway and continues along a riverside embankment past the marshes.

      Snodland
    1. Main route (2 km)
    2. Leave the unsurfaced area at its southern end, going through the first of several metal kissing gates to head S along the right-hand edge of marshy grassland, with the railway behind trees on your right. In 500m the third gate takes you onto a small concrete area with a track going off to the left and another joining from under the railway; ignore these and keep ahead through a metal squeeze gate to the left of a short wooden fence, to find a Kent Wildlife Trust information panel about Holborough Marshes.

      For the main route, turn left just after the information panel onto a grassy path heading away from the railway, with a brook on your left. In about 250m the path starts curving round to the right and shortly afterwards comes out onto a more open area. Climb up onto the embankment in front of you and bear right to head towards Snodland's prominent paper mill, just under 1 km away.

      Just before the embankment ends, follow the path as it veers right down the slope and into a belt of trees. At the end of this woodland path bear left at a path junction, joining the direct route coming from the right.

    3. Direct route (1½ km)
    4. For the direct route, turn right just after the information panel and go through a metal gate. Turn left onto an enclosed footpath and continue alongside the railway for 400m, where the other routes rejoin from the left.

    5. Longer route (2¼ km)
    6. Leave the unsurfaced area at its eastern end on a rough track heading E and later SE, initially with a wire fence on your left. Along the way you can weave past a vehicle barrier on a side path. The track later bends left and turns right to go alongside a pond, with the River Medway now just off to the left.

      Soon afterwards the track leads through a small parking area to a T-junction with another track, where you turn left. This takes you to the river's edge where you turn right, past the remains of Holborough Wharf. Continue alongside the river, then go through a metal kissing gate onto an embankment. You now follow this for just under 1 km as it winds its way past the marshes towards Snodland's prominent paper mill.

    The path leads into the end of a residential street (Church Field) and you head S on this for 350m, eventually passing the station on your right. With All Saints church on your left and the Paper Mill20 ahead, turn right and go over the level crossing (or cross the footbridge) for trains to Strood.

    There are no refreshment places near the station and if you want anything you will have to make a detour into the town centre. There are convenience stores and a pub about 500m away but the town's tearoom is unlikely to be open after mid-afternoon.

    • Detour to the Town Centre (+1 km)
    • Continue along the road past the station. Follow it round to the left and turn right at a junction to cross over the A228. Immediately turn right onto a tarmac path which leads to the bottom of the High Street. Turn left and go along this to the town centre.

      On the left you pass a cricket pitch, but its Pavilion Café on the far side is likely to be closed. Up ahead in the parade of shops on the High Street are two Co-operative stores. At the crossroads the Medway Bakery has a tearoom which might still be open. The Bull Inn is directly opposite and the Monks Head 150m further on.

      Retrace your steps to return to the station: back along the High Street, right on a tarmac path, left over the A228 and left again at the road junction.

Walk Notes

  1. The oldest parts of St Michael and All Angels, Cuxton are Norman, but most of the present building is the result of restoration work in 1860. It has an unusual SE-NW orientation, probably because it was built over earlier sacred buildings; Roman remains have been found on the site.
  2. The North Downs Way runs for 246 km along the length of the North Downs (with two sections at its eastern end), from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent.
  3. Ranscombe Farm Reserve is a working farm managed by Plantlife, “the charity that speaks up for the nation's wild plants”. It contains some attractive wildflower meadows on chalk grassland and large areas of ancient woodland.
  4. Cobham Park was landscaped by Humphry Repton for the Darnley's Cobham Hall estate.
  5. The Darnley Mausoleum was designed by James Wyatt for the 4th Earl of Darnley. It was completed in 1786 but not consecrated and never used for interments. After the Darnley family sold Cobham Hall it became prone to vandalism and was badly damaged in an arson attack in 1980. The current restoration project began in 2001, part of a larger scheme to restore Cobham Park and its landscapes.
  6. Cobham Hall dates from the Tudor period, with a major extension in 1771-73. The Earls of Darnley sold the house in 1957 and it is now a public school for girls.
  7. Charles Dickens wrote some chapters of The Pickwick Papers while staying at the Leather Bottle and the coaching inn is mentioned in the novel. Unsurprisingly it makes much of its Dickensian associations.
  8. St Mary Magdalene, Cobham dates from 1220. It is exceptionally large for a parish church, reflecting its patronage by the wealthy de Cobham family. The alabaster and black marble Brooke Tomb was built in 1561 (probably by Belgian craftsmen) for George Brooke (Lord Cobham) and his wife Anne, and shows their ten sons and four daughters. The church has a magnificent collection of medieval brasses, which were restored and relaid in the Chancel in 1837.
  9. The New College of Cobham was built in 1362 as a home for priests. It was dissolved in the Reformation and subsequently converted to almshouses in 1598, with the hall being retained as a meeting place. It was modernised in 1981 and is still available as housing for local pensioners.
  10. The Wealdway runs for 130 km through the Kent and Sussex Weald, from Gravesend on the Thames estuary to the outskirts of Eastbourne.
  11. Ss Peter and Paul, Luddesdowne (spelt differently from the name of the parish) is a small medieval church decorated with some fine Victorian wall paintings. It is normally locked but is open on Saturday afternoons from July to September.
  12. The adjoining Court Farm and Brookers Farm have operated as Luddesdown Organic Farms since 1988. Traditional crop rotation is practised and you are as likely to come across large fields of ley or red clover as wheat and other mainstream crops.
  13. The Medway River Crossing is in fact three high-level bridges. The original motorway bridge carrying the M2 was built in 1963. Forty years later a second span was added at the same time as the bridge for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
  14. Chapel Cottages incorporate the remains of the 12thC chapel of St Laurence.
  15. A neolithic skeleton was discovered near the station in 1912. At one time Halling Man was stored in the British Museum alongside the notorious hoax, Piltdown Man.
  16. St John the Baptist, Halling has changed many times since the first stone church was built on the site in Norman times. Most of the current building dates from a major restoration in 1888.
  17. The Bishop's Palace was an 11thC manor house used for many centuries by the bishops of Rochester.
  18. At the riverside you can see where the Halling Ferry operated (to Wouldham on the far bank). It closed in 1964 after the new Medway Bridge opened.
  19. The 35-hectare Holborough Marshes is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust. The trust recently acquired a former arable field to the north of the original reserve and so the site is larger than it appears on older maps.
  20. The May family built the first Paper Mill at Snodland in the 1740s. The village grew into a sizable small town in the mid-19thC when new manufacturing techniques and the coming of the Medway Valley railway greatly increased production.

» Last updated: April 30, 2017

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