Edenbridge to Westerham walk
A slow climb from Eden Valley to the Greensand Ridge and the High Chart, via Chartwell (NT, Churchill's Home) and Emmetts Garden (NT).
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.
|Sat, ||Hurst Green to Westerham - early bluebells, hopefully||24||sunny|
|Sat, ||Saturday walk - Edenbridge to Westerham - Up and over the Greensand Ridge|
|Sun, ||Sunday walk: The Eden valley and the Greensand ridge||7||cloudy but mild|
|Sat, ||Saturday walk - Hurst Green to Ide Hill and onwards - bluebells and views||16||hot sun|
|Wed, ||Wednesday Walk – Eden Valley and Greensand Ridge: Edenbridge Town to Westerham||9||drizzle to lunch then thick fog with the sun trying to break through late on|
|Mon, ||Bank Holiday Monday walk - bluebells, views, Chartwell, ridges, an NT garden||2||mainly dry cloudy with sunny and warm intervals and a couple short showers in the afternoon|
|Sun, ||Sunday walk: Greensand Ridge and Churchill's home||3||cloudy mild and breezy|
|Tue, ||Tuesday walk - Up and Over the Greensand Ridge||14||fairly sunny|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge to Westerham [Bromley South] (short walk)||12|
|Sun, ||Edenbridge to Westerham [Bromley South]||0|
|Sat, ||Hurst Green to Westerham [Oxted]||29|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge to Westerham [Bromley South] (short walk)||6|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge to Chiddingstone Causeway, via Crockham Hill|
|Sun, ||Edenbridge to Westerham [Bromley South]|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge to Westerham [Bromley South]|
|Wed, ||Edenbridge Town to Westerham [Oxted]|
|Sun, ||Hurst Green to Westerham [Oxted]|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge Town to Westerham [Oxted] (short walk)|
|Sat, ||Hurst Green to Westerham [Oxted]|
|Sun, ||Edenbridge to Westerham|
|Sat, ||Edenbridge to Westerham|
Oh, so that is who Speedy Gonzalez is. I have used the name all my life without knowing.
Three absolute classics to choose from, yes. It is good to be back!!
For those wanting a longer walk in this area, this walk can be extended by walking into Oxted. You can follow the outbound route of the Oxted Circular (swc 63) from Oxted to W in reverse with the possibility of making a few short cuts here and there, for a total extension of between 4.5 and 5.5 milesish (depending on how you adjust the route)....
24 on this walk on a gloriously sunny day, which even felt WARM quite a lot of the time - what a novelty! Most came on the specified train, two found one that arrived three minutes later, and two came on a later train. Nearly everyone had used the LWUG site to pre-register - so thanks for that - and those that had not provided email addresses on paper slips, so that all worked very efficiently.
We split into small groups, so my account of the walk will inevitably be partial, but I know quite a few picnicked on the ridge, with fabulous views to the south. Five of us had tea at the community shop in Ide Hill, sitting on a grass bank to consume it. I think some got alcoholic drinks on the green in Westerham. Two walked on to Oxted.
The bluebells were only at the "blue haze" stage, but in places were getting a bit beyond that. The real star flowers, however, were lesser celandines and dandelions, both present in great quantities. The first swallows were seen, swooping low over the cow poo, and at last a handful of butterflies were also on the wing - brimstones, orange tips and peacocks.
Trains were a bit busy. Rail companies, I know you are not reading this, but having taken two to three months to cut services to correspond to January passenger numbers, I hope you are not going to now take the same time to ramp them back up again. Eg a four carriage train is not enough on the Uckfield Line.
Toughness: 4 out of 10, apart from the very longest option which is 8 out of 10 T=3.79
10.10 train from Charing Cross (10.13 Waterloo East, 10.19 London Bridge) to Tonbridge, changing there for the 11.01 to Edenbridge, arriving 11.16
Buy a day return to ‘Edenbridge stations’
For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.
This walk is often done in bluebell time, but has not had a weekend outing at this time of year since 2012. There may not be much autumn colour left now, but this route passes through lots of woods where it might still be lurking. There are also fine escarpment views and a section across open fields at the start: the latter may be muddy, but once on the Greensand Ridge things should be better. It IS November, though: don’t come in your party shoes.
Lunch is usually (but see ** below for other options) taken after 4.2 miles in the self-service restaurant at Chartwell, country home of Winston Churchill (he was a famous predecessor of Boris Johnson, apparently...). After this you have a choice:
- A short ending to Westerham (with a new improved start never done by the SWC, incidentally) takes you to Westerham in just 4.8km (3 miles), making a total walk from Edenbridge of 11.6km (7.2 miles).
- Alternatively, if you continue on the main route but take the short cut to Emmetts Garden when prompted, you will do a total walk of 15km (9.3 miles). Normally the caveat against this short cut is that it goes through dull woods rather than dramatic escarpment scenery, but the woods might be rather picturesque at this time of year. This short cut certainly removes a big descent and ascent.
- Or do the whole main walk - 17.8km (11 miles) and a good strenuous work out.
** If you do either of the last two options, an alternative lunch stop is the Fox & Hounds pub, 6.4 miles into the walk, reached by a short diversion off the route. Directions linking this to the Emmetts short cut have now been added to the walk directions - 19 November 2019 version - and they are obvious from the map or GPX. On the full main walk only, a very late lunch (7.9 miles in) is possible at the Cock Inn in Ide Hill.
Westerham has bucketloads of tea options - pubs, tea rooms, Costas etc. An earlier tea on the two longer options is possible at Emmetts Garden, which bizarrely is open even in November (who on earth goes to a garden in November?): its cafe/kiosk is open till 4pm.
Return travel from Westerham is by bus. Three options, and probably not a vast amount of difference between them in terms of overall journey times.
- Bus 246 to Hayes station (26 minutes) or Bromley South at 22 and 52 past until 18.22 and then hourly at 22 past till late: Oyster etc is valid on this bus and the usual LT fare of £1.50 applies. Rey frequent trains from Bromley South to Victoria (also some to Blackfriars). Whether your train ticket is valid via Bromley South I leave to others to say, but you can obviously use Oyster from there.
- Bus 594/595 to Oxted at 3.03, 4.33 and 5.33 (20 minutes journey time): Oxted has fairly frequent trains to East Croydon and on to Victoria or London Bridge and your return train ticket is valid.
- Bus number 1 to Sevenoaks station at 4.14 and 5.12 (20 minutes journey time): Sevenoaks has very frequent trains to London and your return train ticket is valid.
Only one of this group did the shortcut totalling 7 odd miles but this was a truly delightful route after lunch with wonderful views and lovely going underfoot - so unlike the morning before Chartwell. It seemed that all except the one were planning on doing the full walk but rumour has it that at least 6 took the 9.2 mile option - I met a snitch on the way home so she gets a mention in dispatches.
The lack of sighting of rabbits came up in conversation and a walker mentioned a snip of doggerel, so I looked it up and here it is in its fullest form
The rabbit has a charming face:
BUT its private life is a disgrace.
I really dare not name to you
The awful things that rabbits do;
Things that most papers would never print
But only mention them in a hint
Rabbits have such lost, degraded souls
No wonder they inhabit holes;
When such depravity is found
It only can live underground
Things that most papers would never print
But only mention them in a hint
Is it really Rabbits or is it the journalists? OR is it MPs? and of course it is Royalty [everyone it seems except me then]
I will leave one of the others to post a fuller report
E E C Mings and E L Ear
W = cloudy_with_one_shower
A route that makes for a very good workout. Most seemed to do the 9-10 mile option. Muddy at times, but not oppressively so. At least 4 dined with Winston, an experience that proved that not all NT restaurants are equal:a few weeks ago, Ightham Mote offered good, fresh fare, but Chartwell was neither award-winning, nor war-winning. Rapid, but vapid. Three then diverted to Emmetts Garden (good cakes and scones). Shortly before the trio reached Winston and Wolfe in Westerham, we met up again with the one (?) 11miler of the day, and a genial duo who had formed a de facto Radio 4esque Philosophy Club all day. A short wait and then onwards to Hayes Station, where straight off the bus we seemed initially to be ambushed by excited locals for a surprise suburban celebration of the cult that is the SWC. Alas it turned out to be merely the last stages of the countdown to the switching on of the Christmas lights. Another fine SWC adventure in great company. Thank you to Walker for scheduling.
Two of us skipped the detour to Chartwell in favour of eating sandwiches on the way to Toy's Hill where we sat on a bench by an old well and looked at the grand view of grey clouds and smudgy countryside. We too came to Emmets for tea and saw the trio as aforementioned just leaving but so deep in their conversation that they didn't hear our shouts of hello there! A little way before Westerham , whilst still in deep countryside and in the dusk, we saw a number of bats flitting around just above our heads - what a treat. It was pretty dark on the final stretch, caught the bus to Hayes at 16.52. We did the full walk, 11 miles I guess less the Chartwell detour.
Length: 11.6km (7.2 miles) or 17.8km (11 miles) Toughness: 4/10 or 8/10
09:43 Dover Priory train from Victoria (Bromley South 10:00, Orpington 10:07), changing at Tonbridge (arr 10:25, dep 10:29) to arrive at Edenbridge at 10:43.
Or 09:52 East Grinstead train from London Bridge (East Croydon 10:09), changing at Oxted (arr 10:33, dep 10:38) to arrive at Edenbridge Town at 10:47.
Starting from Edenbridge Town adds 1.8km to the distance. Although both routes merge a short way north of Edenbridge, those starting from Edenbridge Town will initially find themselves about 20 minutes or so behind the main group, but can expect to catch them by lunchtime.
From Westerham, the 246 bus runs at xx:26 to Hayes (28 mins) and Bromley South (40 mins) stations. The 401 bus runs at xx:36 to Sevenoaks station (18 mins) for regular fast trains to Charing Cross.
The walk begins with a slow climb from the Eden valley up to the Greensand Ridge, and continues past Churchill’s home, Chartwell (NT), and Emmetts Garden (NT). The shorter ending proposed for today has not been posted for four years, and takes you direct from Chartwell to Westerham in 4.8km, which may suit those still suffering from festive over-indulgence. However, those with greater energy should have enough time to complete the main walk.
The recommended lunch stop is The Royal Oak in Crockham Hill (01732 866335) - booking essential. A reliable alternative about 2km further on is the National Trust tea-room/restaurant at Chartwell, which can be visited without paying for entry to the property.
You will need to download the Walk Directions.
7 - 5 old lags + a young couple doing their own thing, on a cloudy but mild day. The famous five rejected the pub stop and continued to Chartwell, arriving in dribs and drabs. Perhaps age is sapping our energy, but at least four then chose the short ending direct to Westerham, most arriving in time for the 2:30 bus. The usual fine views from the Greensand ridge were partially obscured by a thickish mist.
Length: 19.6km (12.2 miles) or 18.6km (11.6 miles) - Shorter options possible: see ** below
Toughness: 6 out of 10
9.53 (East Grinstead-bound) train from Victoria (9.59 Clapham Junction, 10.10 East Croydon) to Hurst Green, arriving 10.34.
Buy a day return to Penshurst, unless you intend to do the Westerham ending, in which case a Hurst Green return will do.
Whole swathes of SWC walkers are rushing off to barren mountainsides this weekend. Those of us who remain will have to console ourselves with bluebell woods, new green foliage, verges covered in flowers and flitting butterflies. Sigh....
This walk may look like the Book 2 Hurst Green to Chiddingstone walk, but it actually only shares the first mile and a half with that walk and - depending on which option you take - the ending. In between it keeps to the edge of the Greensand escarpment with mouth-watering views and several nice bluebell woods, finally landing up at the extensive bluebell woods below Ide Hill, which you can explore thoroughly.
So your directions for the walk are NOT the book two ones, but this document. (GPX file) You are doing the Hurst Green start (paragraph 164 on page 11) of the Edenbridge to Westerham walk. After this joins the main walk route, you follow that to Ide Hill (paragraphs 45 to 129).
Here you have a choice:
- You can, if you wish, just finish the walk to Westerham (the 11.6 mile option), passing lovely (but crowded) Emmetts Garden with its tea kiosk. But I am aware that this ending was done by some only a few weeks back on the Sevenoaks to Westerham walk. Emmetts Garden apart, it does not have any more bluebells either, though Westerham has nice tea options
- The alternative is to switch at Ide Hill (and ONLY at Ide Hill!!!) to the Book 2 Hurst Green to Chiddingstone Causeway walk - this document, this GPX file - picking up the directions from the Cock Inn on page 6 (so you only need pages 6-8). You then have a very pleasant stroll downhill (lovely at this time of year, with some more minor bluebell woods and so my preferred option) to the very nice Little Brown Jug pub opposite Penshurst station (12.2 miles from Hurst Green).
Lunch on either walk can be had in several places. The small pub in Crookham Hill always seems to be booked. The National Trust Cafe at Chartwell does hot food but in somewhat small portions. You can divert to the Fox and Hounds pub (directions provided), though this pub always seems to be a bit sniffy about walkers. Or you can hold on to the Cock Inn in Ide Hill 7.2 miles into the walk. This can be busy on a sunny day (though it was OK three weeks ago) but - as far as I know - does food all afternoon, so arriving after the main rush might not be tragic. In emergencies, Ide Hill has a nice community shop which does some food and has some tables. If you had lunch earlier, it is a possible tea stop.
Trains back from Penshurst are at 17.27 and 18.27 direct to Victoria - enjoy these through services, because after 20 May you will have to change at Redhill, albeit with a range of new Thameslink connections from there - or at 18.31 and 19.31, changing at Tonbridge, 20.27 changing at Redhill, 20.31 changing at Tonbridge or 22.21 changing at Redhill. These trains go in opposite directions from opposite platforms, so make sure you wait on the right side. Even with the changes, journey time is only just over an hour and because of engineering works this weekend the Tonbridge trains run into Victoria not Charing Cross, so plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose - ha ha ha!
From Westerham you need to get a bus. The 594/595 runs at 16.33 and 17.33 to Oxted railway station, from where there are several trains an hour to London (your Hurst Green ticket is valid from Oxted). Otherwise the 246 (a London service, usual London bus fare, Oyster accepted) goes at 22 and 52 past till 18.22, then 19.22, 20.22, 21.13, 22.14, 23.15 to Hayes station (27 minutes) or Bromley South (38 minutes)
** SHORTER OPTIONS You can combine the Hurst Green start with the shorter ending of the Edenbridge to Westerham Walk. This makes a walk of 12km (7.5 miles). This misses out Ide Hill but still passes some bluebell woods, including a very nice one just beyond Mariners Hill which is not passed on the main walk. Lunch on this walk is at Chartwell, unless you can get into the pub in Crookham Hill. A shortcut to Emmetts Garden also cuts the main walk down to 14.6km (9.1 miles), again missing out Ide Hill but including most of the other delights of the escarpment walk: this is a good choice if you want time to explore the garden. Details of all these options and prompts telling you when to switch to them are in the Edenbridge to Westerham walk document.
Llamas? I think you'll find they're donkeys. But you're right, the three of them like carrots (sliced lengthways).
The bluebells at Ide Hill are fully out but I reckon the display is better on the extensive south-facing bank at Emmetts Garden. You can't see them from the public footpath but NT members can go through the South Garden to find them.
Bus 404 is Mon-Fri only.
11 gathered on the platform in the already hot sun , but by mid morning we were mysteriously 13 and at lunch I learned 5 had got off the front of the train and not bothered to join us mid platform for the meet and greet. So 16 (possibly even 18, but I am not going to be greedy).
A gorgeous day out at a gorgeous time of year. Lambs were in the field, there were intense carpets of dandelions, the foliage was bright green, and stitchwort lined the lanes. Lots of butterflies (including my first red admiral of the season) and varied birdsong.
It is now evident, however, that there is something amiss with the bluebells this year. One delight of this walk is a series of little woods that are normally thick blue-purple carpets in early May. But in some bluebells were barely visible and in others there was a thin covering - a blue mist but no blue sea. Reasonable displays could be found on Mariner’s Hill (a tad off piste, so only three of us saw these) and on the lower slopes of Ide Hill. But only in one coppiced (felled) area were they really good, plus in another off piste area where the trees were sweet chestnut and so the foliage was not yet out. These latter two areas are the key to the puzzle, I think. What I think happened was that the bluebells were caught on the hop by the rapid advance of foliage in the hot third week of April, when we went from bare trees to nearly all leafing in five days. The period when the leaves are part out is normally the bluebells time. This year they were shaded out.
Support for this came late in the walk when we went off the path a bit and ended up in a fenced wood that was in intense flower. Here were bluebells thick and lush, as they should have been all the walk, a poignant sight.
Lunch was had at Chartwell, which has upped its game and now has an efficient and quick ordering system and decent food portions. Some did the short ending from here. Some talked of going to Emmetts Garden by the short cut and on to Westerham but I don’t know how many did. Around half of us carried on to Ide Hill to the Community Shop and Cafe there for a fine tea with a glorious escarpment view. We then had a long but idyllic walk down through fields and woods and along lanes to the Little Brown Jug by Penshurst station. (Making a 12 mile walk: proponents of 19 milers take note that we were all exhausted by the end of this). The pub was busy and lost marks for slow bar service and music blaring in its garden, but four of us decided to eat there and the food came quickly. It was lovely (though surprisingly a tad chilly) sitting in the golden sunset as insects milled about in the air. We got the 7.31pm train to Tonbridge, exhausted but happy.
6 off the train at Edenbridge Town, 1 encountered at lunch who had taken a train to Edenbridge (he walked the short version of the walk after lunch), and 2 encountered near Toy's Hill, who were on their way back from Emmetts to their car at Chartwell, so 9 . The weather was drizzle to lunch then thick fog with the sun trying to break through late on .
The weather made for a bit of a boring trudge to the lunch pub in Crockham Hill, as it's mainly field boundaries, where it's not traversing a golf course (a nice on actually, but you needed all eyes on the directions to find your way through it), so in the drizzle it wasn't great. Food and service at The Royal Oak were average to good.
Then the walk got going, as it was on to the hilly bits. With the fog we didn't get any views from the hills of course, but it was quite atmospheric in the many woods at least, which were full of interesting fungi (again: a close eye was needed on the directions here, as there's lots of paths in them woods). A well deserved tea stop at a deserted Emmetts was had, then up through more woods and past caves and a final grassy descent to Westerham, where the respective buses were due within 10 minutes.
A final drink for some in Oxted, before boarding the train home.
Length: 17.3km (10.1 miles) - but lots of options to shorten: see below
Toughness: 8 out of 10
9.53 train from Victoria (9.59 Clapham Junction, 10.10 East Croydon) to Hurst Green, arriving 10.34.
Buy a day return to Hurst Green (or a single: return is by bus: see below)
For walk directions click here
For those who think the Brecon Beacons is a bit far to go on a day trip, a walk closer to home. You still get to scale a ridge with fine views, but the floral displays will be nicer.
At the heart of the walk are the fine bluebell displays around Toys Hill and Ide Hill, but I have also chosen the Hurst Green start ("Alternative route B") to this walk which passes a few bluebell woods in the morning too. To do this, start with the directions on page 11 of the walk document
If you did the Hurst Green to Chiddingstone Causeway walk two weeks back and think you have been here and bought the T-shirt, be assured that the walk 79 route is largely (though not entirely different). It takes a beautiful route along the escarpment in the morning and explores the bluebell woods around Ide Hill much more fully. You also go to the National Trust Emmett's Garden in the afternoon with more bluebells.
Though there is an early lunch pub in Crookham Hill, but it is rather tiny and always seemed to be booked up. The National Trust self-service restaurant at Chartwell is the easier choice, though its portions can be a bit on the small side. The walk also includes a diversion to the Fox & Hounds in Toys Hill, but they turned us away two weeks ago, so book a table with them before relying on this. If you can hold on till then, the Cock Inn in Ide Hill serves food until 3pm (assuming they are on Saturday times today) or 4pm (if on Sunday times): but be warned, it is popular and busy.
For tea, Emmett's Garden has a National Trust tea place, but queues can be long. Westerham has lots of choices otherwise.
If you want to visit Chartwell or explore its area at leisure, the 246 bus runs from there to Westerham 6 mins), Hayes station (34 mins) and Bromley South station (46 mins) at 20 past the hour until 17.20.
You can combine the Hurst Green start with Alternative Route A, the shorter ending to Westerham, but you miss the nice bluebell displays around Toys Hill and Ide Hill: this reduces the walk to 11.4km (7.1 miles): you can visit Chartwell and then do this ending.
The main walk directions also contain a short cut to Emmetts Garden, but this also cuts out the bluebells around Toys Hill and Ide Hill
To return from Westerham to civilisation, you have to get the 246 bus. This takes 28 minutes to Hayes station (LT zone 5) or 40 minutes to Bromley South (also LT zone 5): from there you will need to pay your way with Oyster or contactless to wherever you live. The bus leaves Westerham at 26 past till 17.26, then 18.34, 19.22, 20.22, 21.12, 22.12 and 23.12
Length: 17.3km (10.7miles) Toughness: 8/10
10:06 Tonbridge train from London Bridge arriving at Edenbridge at 10:56.
Or 09:53 East Grinstead train from Victoria (Clapham Junction 09:59), changing at East Croydon (arr 10:09; dep 10:21) on to the Tonbridge train.
From Westerham, buses run on Sundays to Hayes and Bromley South stations.
The walk begins with a slow climb from the Eden valley up to the Greensand Ridge, and continues past Churchill’s home, Chartwell (NT), and Emmetts Garden (NT). Shortcuts will allow time for visiting both these properties.
The recommended lunch stop is The Royal Oak in Crockham Hill (01732 866335 – booking essential), or the National Trust tea-room/restaurant at Chartwell.
You will need to download the Walk Directions.
Just 3 on this walk. We bypassed Chartwell to press on for a later lunch at Ide Hill which has a decent pub and picnic benches on the green. Got to Westerham just after 3.30pm which allowed us terrific tea and cakes at the independent cafe on the green before catching the 16.25 bus back to the two rail stations. Weather was cloudy mild and breezy .
Excellent day out with a number of other walkers doing the route independently. Book this walk for a bluebell outing in mid to late April as the shoots we saw promise a fine display. Also wild garlic in evidence.
Length: 13.2km (8.1 miles), with a optional 2.1km (1.3 mile extension)
Longer walk: 19.1km (11.8 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10
10.08 train from London Bridge to Edenbridge Town, arriving 10.46.
Buy a day return to 'Edenbridge Stations'
For walk directions click here.
It is challenging to pick walks for the period between Christmas and New Year!! Engineering works to the left of them, engineering works to the right. But we will turn adversity to advantage by giving this little used combination an airing.
It starts with Alternative Route D on page 14 of the walk document, which takes you out, initially over lowland fields (mud likely!) to join with the main walk directions. The Greensand Ridge looms on the horizon and you climb it by gentle stages, with fine views from the top.
The diminutive Royal Oak in Crockham Hill may be able to squeeze some of us in for a pub lunch, but the fall back lunch option is the self-service restaurant at the National Trust property of Chartwell (the home of Winston Churchill, though its house is closed today: the garden and exhibition are open, however).
Just before Chartwell, in paragraph 30 of the main walk directions, switch when prompted in to Alternative Route A (page 11). You then follow this on a direct route for 4.5km (2.8 miles) over the hills to Westerham and its sundry tea options.
include an extra 2.1km/1.3 mile loop around the Chartwell estate that can still be combined with the direct Westerham ending.
Or you may like to complete the main walk route - 10.4km (6.4 miles) from Chartwell to Westerham, giving a total walk of 19.1km (11.8 miles).
TO GET BACK TO LONDON
Catch a bus from Westerham (bus stop location given in walk directions) to Oxted railway station: Variously the 594, 595 or 236 and taking 15-20 minutes, the buses go at 15.03, 16.04, 16.33, 17.24, 17.33, 18.33 and 19.18.
Trains from Oxted are at 19 past to London Bridge and 24 and 54 past to Victoria
If it is more convenient, number 246 buses also run to Hayes (30 mins) or Bromley South (40 mins) stations, but your onward train travel from these stations would not be covered by your Edenbridge return. These buses go at 22 and 52 past until 18.22, then 19.22, 20.22, 21.12, 22.12, 23.12
14 on this walk on another fairly sunny day (not a phrase we have been able to use very much recently). That is to say, there was generous amounts of sun, though also some cloud: also the very occasional spot of rain, but only spots.
The sunshine was so nice that even the crossing of the (deserted) golf course at the start was a delight. The fields once we got onto the Edenbridge start proper were rather squelchy - mildly tedious rather than terminally boggy, but this was enough to persuade a French family (pere, mere et fils) to give up at Crookham Hill. Domage, because the next section offered a particularly pretty gout d'Angleterre, (OK, that's enough of the schoolboy French - Ed)with sunlit views of the Weald.
Six of us tried to lunch at the Royal Oak in Crookham Hill. But alas, while they had a free table, it seemed we would have had to wait our turn to order behind other parties who had yet to arrive, so we moved on to Chartwell. Its self-service restaurant was not exactly covering itself in glory, with a limited selection of sandwiches and only sausage and mash or cheeseburger as hot items. A last minute appearance on the blackboard of Moroccan vegetable stew (tasty, if low on calories) saved the day for this particular punter.
After lunch we did the the optional loop around the Chartwell Estate, which was enjoyed by all. But alas we came to a locked gate at the end of it, and enquiries of passing National Trust staff revealed this locking is permanent. So this permissive route is now non-permissive and will be dumped from the walk directions (you all complain about too many options anyway)..
In the afternoon (shorter ending, alternative route a) nice views from Mariner's Hill and sightings of very early bluebell shoots, were not enough to deter some of the group from taking a direct route to Hurst Green. Six of us continued on a rather squelchy walk into Westerham, which we reached at 4.10pm. The consensus was that getting the 4.33 bus was a must so we had a lightning fast tea at the Tudor Tea Rooms and then provided the bus with its only passengers. At Oxted five of us dashed onto platform 1 and only just got the 4.54pm train. Our apologies to the sixth member of the party who did not.