A slow climb from Eden Valley to the Greensand Ridge and the High Chart,via Chartwell (NT, Churchill's Home) and Emmetts Garden (NT).
Main walk: 17.8km (11 miles)
With shorter ending: 11.6km (7.2 miles)
Short cut to Emmetts Garden: saves 2.8km (1.7 miles)
Starting from Edenbridge Town: adds 1.8km (1.1 miles)
Starting from Hurst Green: adds 1km (0.6 miles)
Main walk: 8 out of 10: quite a few hills, some rather steep
Shorter ending: 4 out of 10: gentle gradients apart from a couple of short steep sections
Landranger 187 & 188, Explorer 147
When you see a view from a ridge, you do not usually know much about the countryside you are looking at. But on this walk, you start in the Eden valley and climb slowly and gently across fields up towards the Greensand Ridge, with increasingly pretty views. By the time you climb up onto the escarpment, in a series of delightful stages, the view has become a familiar friend.
In the Second World War, Winston Churchill is supposed to have looked at this very view and said: "This is what we are fighting for." Certainly, Chartwell, his house, which is passed on this walk and which is now owned by the National Trust, was his refuge and great love, though he had little enough opportunity to visit it during his time as wartime Prime Minister. This walk, with its short afternoon, is ideal if you want to visit this property.
The walk also takes in Emmetts Garden, another National Trust attraction, and offers a shortcut to this in the afternoon if you want to spend more time there. Emmetts also has a wonderful display of bluebells in late April and early May, but even better wild ones – some of the loveliest ones in southern England - are to be seen throughout the walk, particularly in the afternoon around Ide Hill, at the start of the optional Hurst Green start, and just beyond Mariner’s Hill on the Shorter Ending to Westerham.
If that is not enough, in the pretty town of Westerham you can also visit Quebec House (National Trust), a historic house associated with Wolfe, the youthful general who conquered the Canadian city for the British Empire.
Starting from Edenbridge Town station: Edenbridge has two stations on two different railway lines. This option starts from the other one and soon joins the main walk. It adds 1.8km (1.1 miles) to the walk length, so the distances to all lunch and tea options need to be increased by that amount.
Starting from Hurst Green: This attractive route starts at Hurst Green station and has some fine bluebell woods in its early stages. It later skirts along the bottom of the Greensand escarpment, then climbs up it, with panoramic views, to join the main walk route at Crockham Hill. It is 1km (0.6) miles longer than the main Edenbridge start, so the distances to all lunch and tea options given below need to be lengthened by that amount.
Shorter Ending from Chartwell to Westerham: This option takes you directly in 4.8km (3 miles) to Westerham, making a total walk of 11.6km (7.2 miles) from Edenbridge station, 13.4km (8.3 miles) from Edenbridge Town station, and 12.6km (7.8 miles) from Hurst Green. It is particularly useful if you want more time to visit Chartwell or Quebec House in Westerham..
The main walk starts from Edenbridge station on the Redhill to Tonbridge line, which is reached by trains out of London Bridge via East Croydon. For the alternative starts from Edenbridge Town or Hurst Green stations, trains run out of London Bridge or Victoria.
For all the starts, catch the first train from London after 10am to get to lunch at Crookham Hill or Chartwell in time, or the first train after 9am if aiming for lunch at the Fox & Hounds or the Cock Inn in Ide Hill.
Returning from Westerham you can get the 246 bus to Bromley South station (about 40 minutes), from where there are fast trains (taking about 20 minutes) to Victoria. This is a London Transport service, which runs at least hourly till near midnight and you can pay with an Oyster card or use LT travelcards. The 246 also calls at Hayes station about 15 minutes before Bromley South: from here there are up to four trains an hour to London Bridge (journey time 30 minutes) with some going on to Charing Cross and some to Cannon Street.
Another alternative from Westerham is to take a 236/594 bus to Oxted (not Sundays: currently operated by Southdown PSV): a return rail ticket to “Edenbridge Stations” will be valid from there. Arriva Kent and Sussex also operate a 401 bus to Sevenoaks, which has fast train service to London, but you will need a separate rail ticket to return from there. On Sundays when the house is open, the 246 also serves Chartwell hourly until around 5pm.
|Lunch and Tea||
The Royal Oak in Crockham Hill (01732 866 335), 4.7km (2.9 miles) into the walk, is a small pub that does food from 12-2.30pm and 6-9pm Monday to Friday, 12-9pm Saturdays (but with a "reduced menu" 2.30-6.30pm) and 12-7pm Sundays. The pub has a limited number of tables, so booking a table is a good idea. The pub also advertises that it does takeaway meals.
Chartwell, 6.8km (4.2 miles) into the walk, has a National Trust-run self-service tea room and restaurant, which can be reached without going into the house. It does two or three hot food options every lunchtime from 12 to 3pm. It is open for tea until 5pm. Unlike most National Trust properties, it is open year around, apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The Fox & Hounds in Toy’s Hill is a possible later lunch stop reached by a short diversion 10.3km (6.4 miles) into the walk. It serves food 12-2pm, to 2.30 pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday, and has a garden.
The Cock Inn in Ide Hill (01732 750 310), 11.9km (7.9 miles) into the walk, serves food till 12-9pm Monday to Saturday and 12-7pm on Sunday. It has some outside tables, looking onto the village green.
Emmetts Garden, 13.7km (8.5 miles) into the walk, or 10.9km (6.8 miles) via the short cut in paragraph 122 of the walk directions, has a National Trust tea room. It is open till 5pm daily from mid March to the end of October and till 4pm in November and December.
As well as several fine pubs, Westerham has a number of tea rooms. The most obvious at the end of the walk are the Tudor Tea Rooms on the north side of the green (closing time unknown, but shuts early at 2.30pm on Wednesdays). Nearby, at the far eastern end of the green, Food for Thought does cream teas and cakes until 5pm daily. To the left on the far side of the green there is also now a Costa Coffee.
A possible picnic place is indicated in paragraph 57 of the walk directions, though there are various other very scenic spots just after Crookham Hill and around Ide Hill.
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Out (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk