Cuxton to Sole Street walk

Open views and a wooded ridge before lunch, then a walk across a vineyard. An optional afternoon loop up to Cobham and the Leather Bottle pub (of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers)


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.

Date Option Post # Weather
Wed, 11-Jan-23 Wednesday Walk - Cuxton to Sole Street 14 sun in the morning then some rain
Sat, 24-Jul-21 Saturday Walk: Cuxton to Sole Street 5 warm humid no
Sat, 23-Feb-19 Cuxton to Sole Street 12 sunny and warm
Sat, 24-Mar-18 Saturday walk - Cuxton to Sole Street combination walk 17 grey
Sat, 07-Jan-17 Saturday Third Walk -- Open Ridges and a Dickensian Pub 12 gloomy and drizzly
Sat, 20-Dec-14 Cuxton to Sole Street 13
Wed, 23-Oct-13 Cuxton to Sole Street
Sat, 16-Jun-12 Cuxton to Sole Street
Sat, 30-Apr-11 c Cuxton to Sole Street, via Harvel
Sat, 09-Oct-10 a Cuxton to Sole Street, with shorter start
Sat, 24-Apr-10 ? Cuxton to Sole Street, with shorter start and via Harvel
Sat, 14-Nov-09 Cuxton to Sole Street
Sun, 13-Apr-08 Cuxton to Sole Street
Sat, 03-Nov-07 Cuxton to Sole Street

Cuxton to Sole Street with shortened start from Cuxton

Open views and a wooded ridge before lunch, then a walk across a vineyard. An optional afternoon loop up to Cobham and the Leather Bottle pub (of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers)

Length: 15km/9.3 miles with options to shorten further by omitting the loop to Cobham near the end.

Toughness: 5 out of 10

Trains: Take the 10.20 high speed train from London St Pancras (10.27 Stratford), changing at Strood for the 11.03 train to Cuxton, arriving 11.07.

Return trains from Sole Street to London Victoria run hourly at xx.32 with one extra train at 17.02

Tickets: An off peak day return to Rochester should cover both journeys

Lunch: A diversion (450 metres) to the Golden Lion, Tel 01474 815644 in Luddesdown is necessary if you want to have a hot lunch - 7.7km (4.8 miles) by the shorter start,

Options for a later pub lunch are detailed in the walk directions as are recommendations for picnic spots and tea stops.

For walk directions, map and GPS click here


  • 08-Jan-23

    If you have a Freedom pass or other travel card up to zone 6 and a senior or network card, I is slightly cheaper to buy a super off peak advance single ticket to Cuxton and a regular off-peak single from Sole Street to Bromley South which is in zone 6.

  • 10-Jan-23

    On the line from Sole Street, St Mary Cray is the zone 6 boundary.

  • 10-Jan-23

    On the above map Swanley is in Zone 8, which presumably means free to Freedom pass holders. (Amersham in Zone 9 is free)

    On the above map for 60+ Oyster card holders the end station is Swanley.

    Same for Freedom pass holders.

    Single ticket from Sole St. to Swanley is £4.25 plus single from Stratford to Cuxton £8.05 totals £12.30, a saving of £3.65 on the return fare to Stratford via the high speed train.

  • 10-Jan-23

    Thanks, you're right. Unfortunately, I booked my ticket on Trainline and they charge £4 to refund - Beware.

  • 10-Jan-23

    Apologies for not pointing this out before, but I just thought of it.

    You CAN'T use boundary zone anything tickets on Southeastern High Speed out of St Pancras. You have to buy a ticket from St Pancras or Stratford. Your 60+ or Freedom pass will NOT work on the ticket gates.

    You can get round this by getting the Thameslink train to Strood, but it is a tight connection and takes a lot lot longer. The 9.32 from St Pancras Thameslink (Rainham train) calling at 9.48 at London Bridge gets to Strood at 10.59. Providing it is in time you have four minutes to cross to the adjacent platform. But that is a big providing, given the punctuality on Thameslink.

    If you are buying your Southeastern high speed ticket at St Pancras, use the three ticket machines UPSTAIRS on the departure level mezzanine (ie just before the gates). After 10am these MAY give you a cheaper super off peak return (I am not sure if they are available for Rochester, but they may be). These tickets are NOT available from the other ticket machines at St Pancras, since they are not Southeastern machines (I know: it is nuts!).

  • 10-Jan-23

    That is true on the day, but the suggestion was to get an advance single for the journey out, which has to be from St Pancras or Stratford.

  • 10-Jan-23

    Yes, the freedom Pass can't be used for the outward high speed train but you will get a third off with a senior railcard.

    The freedom Pass can be used as well as the senior card for the journey back from Sole Street.

    If you don't have a freedom Pass but have a network railcard, a return ticket to Rochester might be your cheapest option.

    Check out the relevant fare on the national rail website.

  • 11-Jan-23

    12 met at the station in bright sunshine for this walk. We had a fine climb up the hill, with a view of the Medway Valley, and then an easy walk though the woods. Descending to the Luddesdown Valley we ran into two more who had parked at the lunch pub and walked back to it with us. So 14 in all.

    The Luddesdown vineyards get bigger and bigger. Soon they will take over all of Kent. Workers were in the vineyard, which should spark Biblical reflections, but they elude me at present.

    Just before Luddesdown village, four of us split off to go to the Golden Lion for lunch. The menu here was simple but quickly served and tasty. We chose a sunny table and the sun promptly went behind clouds, never to reappear.

    Several picnickers joined us for drinks. Did the rest finish the whole walk or short cut from here to Sole Street? When we had finished eating it was raining (so sun in the morning then some rain ) which persuaded three to flee by car. Five of us continued regardless, taking a short cut up a lane to the afternoon loop.

    The rain soon stopped and it was just grey. We paid a brief visit to the almshouse behind Cobham church and were shown its rather grand communal hall. Then, avoiding all pubs, we made full sail to Sole Street station.

    We arrived just in time to miss the 3.30pm train so repaired to the Railway Inn. This was full of a raucous group, music blasting out at full volume - so obviously a funeral. But they made tea in mugs. Unable to speak to my fellow walkers due to the noise, I pen these lines….

  • 11-Jan-23

    Three picnickers did the loop to Cobham and three headed straight for Sole Street as rain started to move in our direction.

10.7 miles / 17.3 k
(there are various options to cut a few miles from this walk)
A walk exploring the North Downs. The route starts by passing through the Ranscombe Farm Reserve, known for rare wild flowers. It then heads south through woodlands, before heading up to Luddesdown (Golden Lion), Henley Street (Cock Inn) and finishes with an optional loop to Cobham (The Leather Bottle). There's also an option for a side trip to the Amazon & Tiger at Harvel.
London Bridge 09:48, Strood 10:55, change for 11:04 to Cuxton, arrives 11:08.
London St Pancras 10:08, Strood 10:59, change for 11:04 to Cuxton, arrives 11:08. The quicker, but more expensive route.
Return trains from Sole Street: xx:01 to London St Pancras with change at Rochester. xx:32 to London Victoria.
The best advice for a ticket seems to be a return to Rochester.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds perfect. Cheers.

  • 25-Jul-21

    Four arrived at Cuxton on the recommended 11:08, one 30 minutes earlier due to a National Rail recommendation (but couldn't get into Cuxton Marina to look around) so, " 5 ".

    Weather " warm humid no rain" and perhaps some of us regretted bringing rain gear. Lots of flowers in Ramscombe Farm Country Park, and also further on: purple thistle, yellow ragwort, red and pink poppies, blue scabius, white cow parsley, ox-eye daisies, honey suckle, and a field of flax with small blue flowers. (we discussed the use of flax for linen and clothes and tea-towels, but also maybe for flax seeds or linseed oil.)

    As soon as one person mentioned the pleasant absence of mud, we met a fair amount, through not impassable and mostly in the wooded sections.

    One of us had a coffee in Luddesdown, and 4 picnicced overlooking Luddesdown Court (the oldest continuously occupied house in England according to Country Life)and Court Lodge. Lots of wheat and barley fields and several vineyards, some looking quite new, but no sign of either grapes or grapes flowers, perhaps these aren't produced for the first few years. There were some great views of the Medway Valley - but it was a bit hazy. Some quite overgrown paths particularly along the side of Cobhambury Wood, and sadly the notice warning us that we were on camera had not deterred the dumping of asbestos roofing under the railway arch on the lane approaching Lodge Farm.

    We admired some buildings in Cobham but didn't stop to visit Cobham church and the door to Cobham College (almshouses) was shut so kept going. We approached Sole Street on a narrow path through a large wheatfield - it felt almost like wading through water as the wheat sprang back as the person ahead of me pushed through it.

    One went straight for a convenient train just after 4pm, 4 of us had a drink at the Railway Inn before getting the 16:32 back to London.

Sat, 23-Feb-19 : Cuxton to Sole Street 12

t=SWC.35 Length: 17km (10m)
Toughness: 5 / 10
Transport: There are two options:

  • 9:55 from London St Pancras, change at Strood leaving at 10:34, arriving at Cuxton at 10:38. Note. that there is a special fare on this high speed train and, as far as I know, you cannot buy tickets on the train.
  • 9:10 from London Victoria, change at Rochester leaving at 9:59, change at Strood, leaving at 10:34, arriving at Cuxton at 10:38 (Note there is a 28min wait at Strood, it's still a faster connection than going via Tonbridge)
Return trains from Sole Street at xx:01 to London Victoria (there is the option to change at Meopham for 7min faster train to Victoria; you might consider walking to Meopham to catch that train directly, a map would come in handy) or at xx:31 to London St Pancras via Rochester.
A day return to Rochester should cover both legs.

This is a lovely walk across the North Downs with several options: You can have lunch at the recommended lunch pub the Golden Lion in Luddesdown or extend the walk at an earlier point with a 4km there and back again detour to the friendly Amazon & Tiger pub at Harvel. From the latter you could follow the Snodland to Sole Street walk to Henley Street. For tea there are several pubs in Cobham or there is the charming pub in Henley Street where you can while away the time for the final 20min dash across a field to the station. There is also a pub right next to the station should this last dash have sapped your resources.

  • Anonymous

    I may get the 10:52 train from Tonbridge and catch up with you.


  • 25-Feb-19

    Lovely sunny_and_warm day and very pleasant walk over vales and hills. 10 in number at Cuxton station with 2 Kentish residents joining shortly from start so 12_in_total. Most had sandwiches and we picnicked on the grassy embankment high above the picturesque Luddesdowne village beneath a brilliant blue sky, brimstone butterflies and bumble bees for company, then walked on to the Golden Lion for drinks where we met a solitary diner from our party. Pub looked cheap and cheerful. Three others did the Amazon and Tiger pub variation. All bar one on our route continued with the main walk, circuiting in a square shape around Cobham. We had a look around the old almshouses there, called Cobham College, very pretty, and visited the church, quite impressive in size for a small village and with a large number of beautiful brasses. Some had a tea in one of the pubs in Cobham, but reported no cake available, some had tea at the Railway Inn by Sole Street station, again no cake available but none really expected. A great day out.

  • 25-Feb-19


    sunny and warm

Cuxton to Harvel to Sole Street (SWC 35c + Book 2, walk 17)
Length: 16.6km (10.3 miles), with optional 5.6km (3.5 mile extension)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

9.55 Southeastern high speed train from St Pancras to Strood, arriving 10.27, changing for the 10.34 (Maidstone West-bound) train to Cuxton, arriving 10.38.

You can also get the 9.09 from Charing Cross (9.12 Waterloo East, 9.18 London Bridge, 9.27 Lewisham) to Strood, arriving 10.13 to connect with the Cuxton train as above

Buy a day return to Rochester, which will also be valid for return from Sole Street.

This combination of walks has only been done once before and that many moons ago. It involves doing the morning of the Cuxton to Sole Street walk (SWC 35 : directions here and GPX here), switching when prompted to option c, to get to lunch at the Amazon and Tiger pub in Harvel. From there you can do the afternoon of the Snodland to Sole Street walk (book 2, walk 17: directions here - start from point [4] on page 3 - GPX here) to Sole Street.

If, as I suggest, you use the main walk start from Cuxton, this makes a walk of 10.3km (6.4 miles) before lunch and 6.3km (3.9 miles) after lunch.

- There is the option of a shorter start from Cuxton which reduces the morning to 8km (4.9 miles). You could potentially get the 10.22 train from St Pancras if you want to do this.

- At the end the walk there is a possible 5.6km (3.9 mile) extension up to the village of Cobham, with its choice of pubs: see option d) of the Cuxton to Sole Street walk.

Why am I choosing this walk today? The link route between the two walks contains two nice wood anemone woods, which just may be starting to flower (though last week's cold may have set them back). It is otherwise quite a cute little link route. This whole area is also one of chalk downland (a lot of it wooded) which, while certainly not mud-free, may be a little less muddy than other areas (famous last words).

Whether you do the standard Sole Street ending or the extension, there is a nice choice of pubs at the end of the walk.

Trains back from Sole Street are on the hour (00 past) to Victoria, taking 53 minutes. If you have a ticket from St Pancras it is also possible to get the train in the other direction, towards Rochester, at 25 past, changing there for a high speed service to St Pancras. But there is as 20 minute wait for a connection, making a total journey time of 1 hour 11 minutes, so this is not really worth it unless you really really want to end up in St Pancras. T=3.35c
  • 24-Mar-18

    15 on this walk - or rather 17 , since 2 started from Sole Street and met us at lunch. The weather was grey , but reasonably mild: I still dream of one day doing a Saturday walk in warm sunshine though. At least there were signs of spring. Lots - LOTS - of primroses in the woods, the cow parsley plants starting to bush up, mud drying (though still a fair bit on my boots when I got home), oodles of bluebell plants on the morning ridge. And yes, wood anemones, “wooden ms”, mostly just putting out their leaves but some in flower, though closed up under today’s leaden skies. Apologies to those who said at lunch that they had not seen them, but they were there. They get more obvious in coming weeks.

    Most of us ate in the Amazon and Tiger, who coped well with our influx (they had no other diners). Credit to them for having a homemade vegan stew on the menu.

    After lunch the group got fragmented, so I speak only of what I know, which is that three of us did the extension to Cobham and four (?) others walked directly to Cobham for tea at the Leather Bottle: they were leaving as we arrived. We three left the pub at dusk, which was at the ludicrously early hour of 6.30pm - an indignity we will not suffer again until mid October.

  • Anonymous

    Three walkers followed the recommended route to Sole Street and went to Cock Inn for refreshment and found close to 10 fast walkers already there. Some caught 4:53pm train back to Victoria whilst others went to Rochester at 5:25pm then high speed to Kng's X.

SWC Walk 35: Cuxton to Sole Street

Distance: 11.7 miles or 18.8 km for those more metrically minded
Difficulty: 5 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:55 AM Southeastern train to Rochester from London St. Pancras (10:02 Stratford), changing at Strood (arrive 10:27; depart 10:34), arriving at Cuxton at 10:38. Alternatively, you can take the 9:09 AM slow coach to Strood from London Charing Cross (9:12 Waterloo East; 9:17 London Bridge; 9:27 Lewisham) and change onto the Cuxton train at Strood (arriving 10:19; departing 10:34). Return trains from Sole Street are hourly until 21:00; then there is a 21:31 and a 22:31. Buy a day return to Rochester.
This walk has not been done in quite some time and from recollection it is a pleasant walk in a pretty, but not well known, section of the North Downs with contrasting elements – including some nice open ridges and, for those of you who are Dickens fans, the chance to visit a pub, The Leather Bottle, that features briefly in the Pickwick Papers. The walk can be shorten after lunch. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

We are a bit spoiled for lunch and tea options on this walk. The recommended lunch pub is the Cock Inn (01474 814 208) in Luddesdowne (7.3 miles into the walk). However, the nearby Golden Lion (01474 815 644) also in Luddesdowne now serves lunch on Saturdays until 3:00pm and may well be worth a visit, as the Cock Inn also makes for a good tea stop towards the end of the walk (as the afternoon route loops back past it). The Leather Bottle (01474 814 327) in Cobham (10 miles into the walk) serves food all day and could be used as a late lunch stop or a tea stop.

Enjoy the walk!
  • 07-Jan-17

    12 on this walk. A gloomy and drizzly day. Under such circumstances the walk (which I might belatedly point out is much more varied and interesting than last Monday's Farningham to Sole Street) did its best to charm and enchant us, but truth to say it was rather the good company and interesting chat that provided the cheer.

    We tried the Golden Lion for lunch. Very much a "locals" pub in which we were the only diners but the menu and food was not bad and the welcome perfectly friendly. Getting to Cobham at 3.50pm we split between those anxious to finish the walk in the daylight (what passed for daylight, anyway) and those who wanted a quick drink in the Leather Bottle. The pub party emerged half an hour later and still just about managed to get to the Cock Inn under natural light. We met some of the others there and had another drink in cosy surroundings.

    There was much discussion about whether to stay or longer but the net result was we all went for the 6pm train, the last part of the walk being an atmospheric night crossing of a large arable field (without torches: you would be surprised how much light there is even at this time). Moonlight walk plans sadly had to wait for another day.