A contrast between hidden valleys in the North Downs and the Darent Valley Path through three interesting villages.
Main Walk: 21½ km (13.4 miles). Five hours 35 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 10 hours.
Main Walk, finishing in Shoreham: 15¾ km (9.8 miles). Four hours 5 minutes walking time.
Main Walk, with shorter afternoon: 18¾ km (11.7 miles). Four hours 40 minutes walking time.
Short Walk, omitting Otford: 14 km (8.7 miles). Three hours 30 minutes walking time.
Short Walk, with longer afternoon: 16 km (9.9 miles). Four hours 10 minutes walking time.
Explorer 147 & (for a short section at the end) 162. Eynsford, map reference TQ535649, is in Kent, 10 km N of Sevenoaks.
7 out of 10 (4 for the Short Walk, 5 for the other three options).
Some of this walk will be familiar from the two Book 1 walks which start in Otford, but most of it covers new ground. It starts along a country lane through the secluded Austin Lodge valley, climbing to the isolated settlement of Romney Street. It continues on an undulating section to a ridge with fine views of the Darent valley, from where you descend into Otford, passing its scale model of the Solar System. The village has many interesting old buildings and the full route takes you past the ruins of Otford Palace, a rival to Hampton Court in Tudor times.
There are two possible routes back to Eynsford. The longer takes a similarly undulating route along the western side of the Darent valley, weaving in and out of the Otford to Eynsford walk (1–23) on its way to Lullingstone Park, an attractive landscape of chalk grassland and ancient woodland with an internationally important collection of veteran trees. This route also goes past Eagle Heights, one of the UK's largest Bird of Prey centres which is open daily to 5pm from March to October, 4pm on winter weekends. Admission (2019) is £9.95 but you might be able to see something of the afternoon flying displays from the public footpath.
The shorter return route mostly follows the Darent Valley Path through the attractive Kent village of Shoreham, where The Mount Vineyard is usually open for tastings at weekends (it also has a restaurant). After passing extensive lavender fields at Castle Farm an attractive riverside stretch leads to Lullingstone Castle (01322-862114), a historic manor house which can be visited (but with limited opening hours). Its grounds contain an unusual parish church (open to the public at all times) and a World Garden with plants from around the globe, open Fri–Sun afternoons between April and end-October; admission (2019) is £9.
A little further on Lullingstone Roman Villa (01322-863467) has two well-preserved mosaic floors and some early wall paintings, dating back to AD 75. The site is managed by English Heritage and is open daily (weekends only in winter) to 6pm in summer, 5pm in October and 4pm in winter; admission (2019) is £7.90.
The two afternoon routes combine on the way into Eynsford, where a short detour into the village would let you visit the ruins of Eynsford Castle (free entry), one of the earliest Norman stone castles.
You can curtail the Main Walk in mid-afternoon by following the alternative directions to finish at Shoreham station (which is near all the other walk routes).
Directions are also given for a Short Walk, going directly from Romney Street to Shoreham on the route of the original Otford Circular walk (1–43) and continuing with either of the afternoon routes.
The longer and more varied afternoon route was added to the Main Walk in 2017. The original route along the Darent Valley Path has been retained as the ‘shorter afternoon’ option.
Eynsford is on the Blackfriars to Sevenoaks line, with a half-hourly stopping service taking 55 minutes. You can also take a fast train from Victoria to Bromley South and change there for the Sevenoaks train. Shoreham and Otford are the next two stations down the line from Eynsford, so buy a return to one of these stations (rather than Eynsford) if you might want to finish there.
There is an infrequent bus service through Eynsford, Shoreham and Otford (Go-Coach 421, Mon–Sat), but it will usually be quicker to head for the nearest station if you want to abandon the walk.
If driving, there is a small free car park “for rail users” at Eynsford station. There is also a small free car park in the village (near the return route, but nearly 1 km from the station).
Take the train nearest to 09:45 from Blackfriars (or Victoria) to Eynsford for the Main Walk. For the Short Walk, take the train nearest to 10:15.
On the Main Walk the suggested place to stop for lunch is Otford, after about 8½ km. The walk route joins the High Street opposite the Bull (01959-523198); the alternative is a traditional village pub overlooking the pond, the Woodman (01959-522195).
On the Short Walk there are three pubs in the small village of Shoreham, after 7–8 km. In the order in which you pass them they are Ye Olde George Inn (01959-522017) and the Kings Arms (01959-523100) on Church Street, and the Crown (01959-522903) at the far end of the High Street.
There used to be an even greater choice of pubs on this walk. The Fox & Hounds in Romney Street closed in 2014; the Crown in Otford closed in 2015; and the Two Brewers in Shoreham has become a weekend-only restaurant.
There are plenty of opportunities for refreshment in Eynsford, with the suggested place being the Riverside Tea Room (01322-861551; open to 4.30pm weekdays & 4pm at weekends, but may stay open later if called in advance). If you get there too late or want stronger fare, the Plough (01322-862281) has a fine riverside location. A short detour along the main road will reveal the Malt Shovel Inn (01322-862164), the Five Bells (01322-863135) and the Castle Hotel (01322-863162).
Unless you divert into Shoreham there are no refreshment places between Otford and Eynsford on the longer afternoon route, but on the shorter route a convenient place for a mid-afternoon break is the Lullingstone Café in the Country Park Visitor Centre (01322-865995; open to 5pm summer, 3.30pm winter).
If you finish in Shoreham the walk route goes past all the lunch pubs listed above, plus a couple of tearooms on its High Street: one at the Shoreham Aircraft Museum (01959-524416; open to 4.30pm on summer weekends); and the Honey Pot Café & Tea Rooms (07546-696623; open to 4.30pm Wed–Thu, 5pm Fri–Sun). Tea might also be available at the church on summer Sundays.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
|Copyright||© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml|
The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Walk Options ( Main | Short )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (21½ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- Eynsford Station to Romney Street (4¼ km)
- Romney Street to Mount Farm (1¾ km)
- Mount Farm to Otford High Street (2¼ km)
- Around Otford (1 km)
- Otford High Street to Polhill Bank (2¼ km)
- Polhill Bank to Darenthdale (2½ km)
- Darenthdale to Shoreham Station (1¾ km)
- Romney Street to Shoreham Bridge (3 km)
- Shoreham Bridge to Mill Lane (1 or ½ km)
- Main route (1 km)
- Riverside route (½ km)
- Shoreham Bridge to Darenthdale (1¼ km)
- Main route
- Riverside route
- Darenthdale to Upper Beechen Wood (2 km)
- Upper Beechen Wood to Eynsford (Riverside) (4 km)
- Otford High Street to Shoreham (Mill Lane) (3¾ km)
- Mill Lane to Eynsford (Riverside) (4¼ km)
- Riverside to Eynsford Station (1½ km)
- Detour to Eynsford Castle (+800m)
Turn right out of the station into Upper Austin Lodge Road. In 2 km pass through the hamlet and continue on a footpath which climbs up the eastern side of the valley to Romney Street Farm.
Leave the station through its small car park and turn sharp right into a No Through Road, initially heading S. You will be following this winding country lane through the secluded Austin Lodge valley for just over 2 km. Halfway along it dips down and passes Lower Austin Lodge Farm. In a further 1 km fork left (ignoring the “No Entry” sign) and follow the lane through the hamlet of Upper Austin Lodge.
Bear left in front of a block of garages onto a track, passing a new building and continuing between high hedges. On this 400m stretch (across an abandoned golf course) there is side path off to the right signposted to the Pilcher Monument1, about 300m away. On the main path you eventually turn left as indicated in front of a ‘Private’ notice, onto a gloomy path in a tree tunnel which climbs steadily up the side of the valley, heading E.
In 250m the path goes past a broken stile and veers right. Go over another stile and follow the path for 1 km along the edge of the woodland on your left, at times just inside it. At the end of this undulating section the path climbs to the top of the valley, with distant views of Canary Wharf and the City back over your right shoulder. After a level stretch of 100m, with a house behind the trees on your left, there is a stile on the left with a yellow footpath marker.
If you are doing the Short Walk (omitting Otford), go to §8.
Turn left briefly towards Romney Street and take the bridleway heading south-west to a lane, Magpie Bottom. Turn right onto the lane for 150m and then take a permissive path on the left into a valley. Turn right onto a public footpath going up through Great Wood to Mount Farm on Rowdow Lane.
Turn left and go over the stile onto a potentially muddy path between fences. In 60m turn right and go along a narrow bridleway for 200m, also between fences. At the end go through a small metal fieldgate to join a farm track coming in from the right. Do not go over a stile beside a large metal fieldgate into the field ahead but go through a smaller metal gate to its right, staying on the bridleway.
Follow the bridleway along the right-hand edge of a wood, soon going downhill and then bending sharply left in front of a large hollow. The bridleway comes out onto a narrow lane where you turn right, going gently downhill between hedges. In 150m, shortly after the lane has curved left, turn left through a wooden kissing gate to the left of a fieldgate onto a permissive path into Magpie Bottom2.
In 200m go through a new wooden gate in the belt of trees ahead and bear right to stay on the valley floor. In a further 200m turn right at an unmarked path crossing, joining a public footpath coming steeply down the bank on your left. Follow the grassy path towards a wood and go through a wooden gate into the trees, then steadily uphill through Great Wood. At the top go out through a small metal gate into a field and follow the path through more gates to a minor road (Rowdow Lane) opposite the entrance to Mount Farm.
Turn right onto the lane for 300m and keep ahead on a track where the road turns right. Go through trees and then along a ridge before going down the side of Fackenden Down to the A225. Turn left onto the main road for a short distance, then take a footpath across the railway and a field to enter Otford through its recreation ground.
Turn right and go along this quiet lane for 300m. Where it turns right keep ahead through a metal kissing gate onto a broad track, heading W, which soon goes into a strip of woodland. After 400m go through a metal gate into an open area, with fine views of Otford in the Darent valley below.
Inside the field bear left onto a grassy path going slightly downhill to the far corner. Leave the field by another metal gate and continue along the hillside, ignoring a stile on the right. The path then goes downhill through some trees and turns left before emerging at the top of Fackenden Down2.
Go all the way down the hillside, at first on a broad grassy path between wire fences and then across a couple of wildflower meadows to reach the A225. Turn left and walk along this busy road for 125m, taking care as there is no pavement. At “Stileways” turn right onto a signposted footpath to the left of its driveway. Follow this between garden fences to the railway line and cross the tracks carefully.
Go up to a new wooden gate and bear left as indicated to continue alongside a wire fence. At the far end go through a gate, across a farm track and through another gate to drop down onto a track between hedges. Turn left onto the track for 50m, then go over a stile on the right into the corner of a large recreation ground. The concrete pillars representing the sun and inner planets of the Otford Solar System3 model are in front of you, with an information panel up ahead by the hedge.
Take any convenient route across the recreation ground to a car park on the far side. Go through this to come out onto Otford's High Street opposite the first of the village's two pubs, the Bull.
Turn left onto Otford's High Street and skirt around the village pond onto a footpath going past the ruins of the Archbishop's Palace. Cross back over the A225 and take the footpath along the edge of the water meadows back to the High Street. Turn left to come to the Darent Valley Path (DVP).
You could skip most of this section by simply heading west along the High Street for 150m, where the main route joins from Pickmoss Lane on the left. If you do this, continue the directions at [•] below.
For the full walk head E on the High Street (ie. turn right if coming out of the Bull), passing the Hospices of Hope tearoom on the right opposite a bridleway. You soon come to a large roundabout encircling the village pond4, with the Pond View Café and the Woodman pub on your left.
Make your way to the far side where there are two footpath signs, with the left-hand path leading to the parish church of St Bartholomew5 (if you want to visit the church its entrance is a set of modern doors on the north side).
If you want to abandon the walk (Otford station is 500m away) take the left-hand path and go past the south side of the church. Head east through the churchyard and then along an enclosed tarmac path to the station car park. Platform 1 on the near side is for trains to London.
To continue the walk take the right-hand path away from the pond, heading S. The path passes Chantry Cottage on the left and the elegant Holmesdale6 off to the right, and comes to a row of cottages built into the walls of the old Otford Palace7. Turn right to go past the ruined north-west tower and an information panel about the palace.
Follow the tarmac path to the far corner of Palace Field and continue past a small parade of shops. Cross the A225 at a traffic island and take the footpath opposite, alongside extensive water meadows. This eventually leads into Pickmoss Lane and back to the High Street, where you turn left.
If you are doing the shorter afternoon route (which for the most part follows the DVP through Shoreham and back to Eynsford), go to §13.
Head west along the High Street and its continuation, Pilgrims Way West. Opposite Rye Lane turn right onto a footpath heading north-west across meadows and fields towards Sepham Farm. Turn right and left to continue past the farm buildings and across Filston Lane to Polhill Bank.
For the next 1½ km (and intermittently thereafter) you will be following the Walk 1–23 route.
Continue along the High Street (which becomes Pilgrims Way West) for a further 250m, crossing several branches of the River Darent and passing Broughton Manor10 on the left. Just past a bus shelter (and a Solar System pillar representing the planet Uranus) turn right onto a signposted public footpath, going through a metal gate into a meadow.
For the next 1¼ km you will be heading NW on this footpath towards the oast houses of Sepham Farm, initially across the meadow and then on enclosed paths. In 750m the path swerves left and right and crosses a brook on a concrete slab; keep right as indicated to stay on the public footpath. In a further 200m ignore a footpath off to the right (with a hand-drawn sign pointing to the minor planet Pluto) to continue on a broad grassy track towards the farm buildings.
You come to a T-junction in front of a neglected orchard and turn right past a metal fieldgate, briefly going along the edge of a large field. In 100m turn left through a wooden kissing gate, leaving the Walk 1–23 route and heading NW again. Follow the footpath alongside the orchard and underneath power lines.
At the far end take great care as the path comes out directly onto a narrow winding lane with limited visibility for drivers. Cross Filston Lane carefully and go up a few steps to continue on the footpath opposite, climbing steadily. In 250m go through a wooden kissing gate into Polhill Bank2.
Turn right and go along the bottom edge of this small nature reserve (or climb the bank and take the path along the top). At the far end turn left into Pilots Wood, staying near its eastern boundary. Go across an open patch of grassland and continue on a footpath all the way along the bottom of Meenfield Wood to the hamlet of Darenthdale.
You will be leaving this small nature reserve in its right-hand corner. There are grassy paths along both its top and bottom edges, so you can either simply turn right onto the lower path or (for the best views from a bench at the top) climb steeply up the hillside in front of you and then descend gently on the upper path. The two paths merge at the far end and you leave the reserve through a wooden kissing gate. Go down a slope towards a second gate but turn left before reaching it onto an unmarked path into Pilots Wood.
The path meanders along the bottom edge of this open access wood, passing a picnic table at a left-hand bend. After a right-hand bend it straightens out to head N, climbing gently with a field behind the fence on your right. The next turning is easy to miss. Where the main path bears slightly left away from the fence and climbs more steeply, veer right onto an unmarked narrow path to stay alongside the fence. Follow this to the edge of the wood, still climbing gently.
Leave the wood via a stile and keep ahead across a steeply-sloping field. On the far side go through a metal kissing gate to the right of a fieldgate onto a broad woodland path, rejoining the Walk 1–23 route. After a while there are views on the right of Shoreham in the Darent valley below, and in 600m you come to a path crossing by a sign for Meenfield Wood and an information panel.
If you are finishing in Shoreham you could head directly for the village by descending the (potentially slippery) flight of steps on your right and all the way down the hillside, at first between hedges and then along a narrow tree-lined track (The Landway) past a recreation ground. If you take this short cut (saving 1 km), turn right onto Shoreham's High Street and continue the directions at [•] in §7.
For the main route keep ahead at the path crossing, in 200m passing above an enclosure containing the Shoreham Cross11. In 300m the path merges with a track from the left and you continue along a straight tree-lined path for a further 200m. At the end of the path there is a minor road (Shacklands Road) just off to the left.
If you are doing the Main Walk (returning to Eynsford), go to §11.
Turn right and follow a grassy path downhill to Shoreham's High Street, opposite Mill Lane. For a wide choice of refreshment places turn right and go through the village on the High Street and then Church Street, crossing over the River Darent. At the top of Church Street continue through the churchyard and along Station Road to the station.
To finish the walk in Shoreham turn right (away from the road). Go through a metal kissing gate and follow a line of wooden posts curving round the edge of the field, gently downhill. At the end go through another kissing gate and along an enclosed footpath to come out onto Shoreham's High Street, opposite Mill Lane.
Turn right to go along the High Street. You pass the Crown and 300m later the Two Brewers restaurant, both on your left. In a further 100m the short cut mentioned above joins from a track (The Landway) on the right.
[•] The tearoom for the Shoreham Aircraft Museum12 is up this track; the Honey Pot Café is a little further along the High Street, on the left. At the next junction turn left into Church Street, in 175m coming to the Kings Arms13 on the right.
After crossing the River Darent stay on Church Street as it turns right to go alongside a branch of the river, then curves round to the left and uphill. Halfway up the slope you pass a driveway leading to The Mount Vineyard14 on the left and come to Ye Olde George Inn at the top.
You could follow the street (now Station Road) round to the right and all the way to the station, but the suggested route is to go through the lychgate ahead. Follow the tree-lined path past the church of Ss Peter and Paul15 (which is well worth visiting) and out through a wooden swing gate at the far end.
Turn right and go along the field edge. The right of way leads out past a fieldgate to Station Road where you would turn left, but locals seem to prefer an unofficial path inside the field, squeezing past a vehicle barrier to leave in the next corner. Either way, follow the road under the railway bridge and then turn left up steps to the station forecourt. Cross the footbridge to Platform 1 for trains to London.
Turn right down the valley and go across the abandoned golf course at the bottom. Climb up the other side and follow the footpath through a wood and fields to Dunstall Farm. Continue steeply down through a wood to reach the A225. Cross over and go down Station Road for 350m, joining the Darent Valley Path (DVP) which comes in from a footpath on the left. Turn right off the road onto a footpath and in 50m turn left to go through the churchyard and back to the road. Continue down Church Street to the River Darent.
This section follows the Walk 1–43 route.
For the Short Walk turn right, away from the stile. Follow a broad grassy path through the field, passing to the right of a clump of trees in a crater and going downhill. On the far side of the field go over a stile and across a track to emerge into the top of a meadow. Go down its right-hand side to the bottom corner, along a path between tall hedges (crossing the old golf course) and then steeply up the other side of the valley.
At the top go over a stile onto a path through a small wood. On the far side bear left to cut across the corner of a field, heading SW, and continue in much the same direction across the next field on a broad path. At the far end turn half-right onto a farm track which goes through a dip and back up into Dunstall Farm. Go more or less straight on through the muddy farmyard, veering to the right of a barn on the far side.
Continue in the same direction across a field. On the far side go down into a wood, soon crossing a path to carry on down a long flight of earth steps. 350m from the end of these steps, the path merges with a bridleway coming in from the left, which leads to the A225.
Cross this main road carefully, slightly to the right, and go down Station Road, passing under the railway bridge. Shortly after the entrance to Darenth Valley Golf Club you join the Darent Valley Path9 (DVP), coming into Station Road from a footpath on the left. In a further 75m turn right at the next DVP waymarker, going up a slope into the corner of a large field.
Go along the left-hand field edge for just 50m, then turn left through a kissing gate in a low flint wall into the churchyard. Follow the tree-lined path past the church of Ss Peter and Paul15 (which is well worth visiting) and out through the lychgate to return to the road, with Ye Olde George Inn opposite. Follow the road (now Church Street) gently downhill, passing a driveway leading to The Mount Vineyard14 on the right. At the bottom the road bends right to run alongside a branch of the River Darent for a short distance.
If you are doing the longer afternoon route, go to §10.
For a wide choice of refreshment places follow Church Street across the river and up to a T-junction. Turn right and go along Shoreham's High Street to its junction with Mill Lane. Turn right down Mill Lane to return to the DVP. Alternatively, simply follow the riverside path directly to the bottom of Mill Lane.
The suggested route through the village is along Church Street and the High Street, passing more pubs and two tearooms. If you do not want to visit any of these places you can take the more attractive riverside route.
For the suggested route follow the road across the river to come to the Kings Arms13 on the left. At the top of Church Street turn right onto Shoreham's High Street. The Honey Pot Café is on the right and the small Shoreham Aircraft Museum12 (which has a tearoom) is a little further along, on the left. You then come to the Two Brewers restaurant and 300m later the Crown, both on your right.
Continue for a further 100m and turn right to go down Mill Lane. In 125m (where it turns half-right towards the entrance to Mill House) bear left off the lane onto a footpath, rejoining the DVP.
Do not cross the river on the road bridge but keep ahead onto Darenth Way, passing the War Memorial16 on the riverbank. Pass to the left of Water House17 and follow the attractive riverside path, later with an orchard on your right. At the far end cross the river on a footbridge and follow the path alongside the garden fence for Mill House. Shortly after passing its entrance, ignore Mill Lane up to the left and turn right at a footpath signpost to continue on the DVP.
Continue the directions at §14.
Alternatively, simply follow the riverside path directly to Mill Lane and go up this lane to the High Street.
Either way, take a new footpath from this junction up field edges to the hamlet of Darenthdale.
Continue for a further 100m and turn left off the road at its junction with Mill Lane, onto a raised footpath.
Go past the entrance to the house and follow Mill Lane up to its T-junction with Shoreham's High Street. Cross the main road carefully onto a raised footpath opposite.
Follow the enclosed footpath alongside the main road. In 100m go through a metal kissing gate and turn right to follow a line of wooden posts curving round the edge of a large field, climbing steadily. At the top go through another kissing gate and keep ahead on a short track through a belt of trees, where the longer route from Otford joins from a path on the left.
Go out onto Shacklands Road and turn right onto it, downhill. At the second road junction turn left into Cockerhurst Road. In 350m take a footpath on the right leading past Homewood Farm to Redmans Lane. Turn left briefly onto the road, then take a footpath on the right along a field edge and into Upper Beechen Wood.
For the next 1½ km you will be following the Walk 1–23 route.
Go past a vehicle barrier onto Shacklands Road and turn right to go downhill, taking care as there is no pavement. You will be turning left at the second road junction, into Cockerhurst Road; but just before this, up a few steps in the bank on the left, there is a curious memorial stone18 which is worth a look.
To continue the walk go along the tree-lined Cockerhurst Road for 350m, through a small dip and then steadily uphill. Opposite the first house on the left (Coombe Vale) turn right through a gap in the trees onto a signposted footpath, which winds through a scrubby area and then broadens out to continue climbing between a wire fence and shrubs.
At the top follow the path round to the right and go over an old stile to head N along the left-hand edge of a large field, towards the buildings of Homewood Farm. On the far side bear left onto a narrow path beside a wooden fence and continue along the farm's concrete driveway to a narrow road with high hedges (Redmans Lane).
Turn left onto the lane (leaving the Walk 1–23 route), taking care as there is no pavement. In 100m turn right up steps in the bank onto a signposted footpath along the left-hand edge of a field, then past farm sheds. At the end of the path go through a metal gate – the more adventurous could tackle a rather challenging step ladder – into Upper Beechen Wood, part of Lullingstone Park19. Almost immediately you come to a path crossing with a wooden signpost.
Keep ahead at a crosspaths just inside the wood. Follow the waymarked Lullingstone Loop through woodland and then north-east along the edge of the country park. Continue in the same direction across farm fields past Eagle Heights, then downhill across the railway line into Eynsford.
Most of this section follows the waymarked Lullingstone Loop (and in some places also a horse route) on part of a clockwise circuit around this country park.
Keep ahead at the crosspaths, following the Lullingstone Loop (black arrows). The woodland path winds downhill for 200m, turning right at a marker post near the bottom to come to a golf fairway. Cross this carefully (with golfers playing from the left) to a gap in the trees opposite and continue on a path climbing gently through a copse. At the top keep to the left of a golf green and follow a line of tall trees to meet a surfaced path by a footpath signpost.
Turn right onto the path, now also on a horse route (blue arrows). Follow the path round a left-hand bend to the corner of a small wood. Veer left as indicated onto a path through the trees and keep ahead at a path crossing in the middle of the wood. On the far side you come to a golfers' track with several paths into the wood opposite. The suggested continuation is to take the right-hand path past wooden barriers, staying on the Lullingstone Loop.
The horse route on the left is an alternative: the two routes go along opposite sides of a long narrow strip of woodland and rejoin at the far end, 600m away (riders are directed along a short detour at the start to bypass a potentially hazardous old oak tree; walkers can take the original left-hand path, past wooden barriers).
The suggested route stays near the right-hand edge of the woodland and goes past another ancient oak tree on the edge of the golf course (possibly the oldest tree in the park). At the far end leave the wood past wooden barriers, merging with the horse route from the left. Keep ahead along a broad grassy strip at the edge of a field, then on a track going through a dip and up the other side. Near the top leave the horse route (which branches off to the right) to continue on a grassy strip between two large fields.
On the far side go through a belt of trees and turn right downhill along the field edge for 75m. After passing the end of a hedge turn left to go alongside it, finally joining the Darent Valley Path (DVP). Where the hedge turns left keep ahead across the field, passing Eagle Heights off to your left.
If your walk coincides with the afternoon flying display you might see eagles and other exotic large birds overhead. They are not supposed to attack walkers who stay on the public footpath.
Go across the centre's access road and through a gap in the fence opposite. Take the footpath sloping downhill across more large fields, heading towards Eynsford in the valley below and crossing the railway tracks near the left-hand end of Eynsford Railway Viaduct23. The path eventually drops down to a minor road (Lullingstone Lane) in front of water meadows, dotted with trees. Turn left onto the lane, which curves round to the right and leads into Riverside at its junction with Sparepenny Lane.
Complete the directions at §15.
Turn right off the High Street onto the DVP and follow it across fields and then a golf course. At a T-junction turn right onto a tarmac lane for 250m, then left at the next path junction. At the end of the golf course turn left briefly onto Station Road, then zig-zag right and left onto a path through the churchyard. Go down Church Street to the River Darent and follow the riverside path to the bottom of Mill Lane, at the other end of the village.
Turn right onto the DVP, the driveway to Millmead and several other properties but also a public footpath. At the end of the drive take the path to the right of “The Chalet”, past allotments and through a wooden swing gate into a meadow.
Follow a grassy path alongside the river for 300m, then go through a metal kissing gate to continue alongside a fence. Go through more kissing gates by the entrance to Lower Barn Farm and head N for a further 1 km, at first along the right-hand edge of a field and then on an enclosed path through a golf course.
At a major path junction go through wooden barriers and turn right onto a tarmac lane. At the next path crossing in 250m, turn left onto a path and head N again for a further 700m, passing a cricket pitch on your left and continuing across the golf course. The path eventually comes out onto Station Road on the outskirts of Shoreham (with the station 200m off to the right if you want to abandon the walk). Turn left briefly onto the road, then in 75m turn right up a slope into the corner of a large field.
Follow the waymarked DVP beside the river, through fields and alongside Castle Road to Lullingstone Park Visitor Centre. Continue northwards along a riverside path to Lullingstone Castle, then along Lullingstone Lane. Leave the DVP (which takes a higher route into Eynsford, rejoining the lane near the end) and follow the lane past Lullingstone Roman Villa and under the railway viaduct into the village.
Go along the footpath, with a mill stream and then the river on your right. In 150m go through a wooden kissing gate and continue on a fenced path along the right-hand edge of several fields. The path leads into the corner of another field and bears left to go diagonally across it, towards the centre of a line of poplars 400m away.
Go across an access road, up a slope and through the line of trees to continue on a broad grassy path between fields. You pass a hop field on your right and the path comes out onto a lane (Castle Road) at a bend. Cross the road carefully (slightly to the left) and go up a few steps onto a permissive path running alongside it, with a large lavender field beyond the fence on your left.
In 250m a wide gap in the hedge on your right would let you cross the road and detour into Castle Farm, whose Hop Shop sells local farm produce and snacks. At the end of the permissive path go through a gate to return to Castle Road by the entrance to Lullingstone Park19.
The rest of the walk essentially follows the Walk 1–23 route.
You could keep ahead through a kissing gate to go directly onto the riverside path (passing a footbridge over the river where there is a wooden sculpture20), but if you want to break for refreshment veer left into the car park and go round to the right to find the Lullingstone Café in the Country Park Visitor Centre; afterwards, make your way round a children's playground and turn left onto the riverside path.
Continue along this attractive tree-lined path for 600m, with the river on your right and glimpses of a large fishing lake beyond it. At the far end go through a small parking area and keep ahead on a tarmac lane to come to the imposing Tudor Gatehouse21 of Lullingstone Castle; it is well worth detouring through its entrance to visit the unusual parish church of St Botolph22.
The “Church on the Lawn” is open to the public at all times, even though you may have to unhook a chain and walk across the private lawn of Lullingstone Castle to reach it.
To resume the walk continue along the lane past the grounds, still heading N. In 700m you pass a large shed on the left housing Lullingstone Roman Villa (and temporarily leave the DVP, which branches off just before then to take a higher route into Eynsford).
If you want to head directly to the station (1¼ km away), turn right by the Roman Villa onto a private road (which is also a public footpath), crossing the river on a bridge. At the end of the road turn left onto the tarmac path alongside the A225, go under the railway bridge and turn sharp right up the station approach road. Note that there are no more refreshment places on this short cut.
For the main route continue along Lullingstone Lane, following the course of the river. The lane passes under Eynsford Railway Viaduct23 and 250m later the DVP rejoins from a footpath on the left. After curving around some water meadows the lane leads into Riverside at its junction with Sparepenny Lane.
Go along Riverside and across the river to the A225. To avoid a long walk up this main road, go through the churchyard and along an alleyway to Pollyhaugh. Turn right and follow this residential street (which becomes St Martins Drive) to a T-junction. Turn right down Eynsford Rise for the station.
At the road junction leave the DVP (which continues up Sparepenny Lane) and keep ahead onto Riverside. In 150m the lane goes alongside the River Darent before crossing it on a narrow bridge by a ford. The two suggested refreshment places are on this street: the Plough inn before the bridge, and the Riverside Tea Room immediately afterwards.
At the T-junction with the A225, follow the directions below if you want to visit the ruins of Eynsford Castle.
Turn left onto the main road (away from the station) to go through the centre of the village, passing the Five Bells pub on your right. Opposite the Castle Hotel, turn left into a tarmac lane signposted to the Village Hall and follow it round to the right to find the Castle car park and ruins. Return the same way.
From the junction with Riverside you could simply stay on the Walk 1–23 route, going up the main road to the station. The directions below are for a slightly longer but quieter route.
For the suggested route cross the A225 at the pedestrian lights and go into the churchyard of St Martin of Tours24. Follow the path past the left-hand side of the church and leave the churchyard in the top left-hand corner. Bear right across a small parking area and continue up a short alleyway (with vehicle barriers at both ends) to a residential street, Pollyhaugh.
Turn right and follow this quiet street (which becomes St Martins Drive) for 700m, climbing steadily. At the far end turn right and go down Eynsford Rise to reach the station. Cross the footbridge to Platform 1 for trains to London.
- Percy Pilcher (1867-1899) was a British aviation pioneer who tested his Hawk glider in the area in the 1890s. He also designed and built a powered triplane but was fatally injured when his glider crashed and it was never flown.
- Magpie Bottom, Fackenden Down and Polhill Bank are Local Nature Reserves managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust. These areas of chalk grassland support many varieties of orchid.
- The Otford Solar System is a scale model showing the relative position of the sun and planets at the start of the millennium. The pillars representing the outer planets are scattered around the village, the furthest over 1 km away at the 1:5 billion scale used.
- Otford Pond is one of many protected structures in the village, which has led to claims that its duckhouse is Britain's smallest listed building.
- Construction of St Bartholomew, Otford began in 1060, with the tower being added in around 1185. It contains a large marble memorial to Charles and David Polhill, descendants of Oliver Cromwell.
- Holmesdale was converted to a pair of semi-detached homes in the 1720s. The original property was built in the 1600s and its large width suggests that it might have had some industrial purpose.
- Otford Palace was created by Archbishop Warham in 1514, a year before Cardinal Wolsey (his rival and successor as Lord Chancellor) began the construction of Hampton Court Palace. Both were subsequently taken over by HenryⅧ but Otford (in its unfavourable marshy location) fell into ruins while Hampton Court expanded into a major royal palace.
- Pickmoss resembles a genuine medieval hall house but it is actually the result of an extensive refurbishment in the 1950s. A small Elizabethan house and a pair of unrelated cottages were amalgamated and a typical Elizabethan frontage added to give the appearance of a single large property.
- The Darent Valley Path follows the course of the river for 31 km, from Sevenoaks (near its source in the Greensand Hills) to the River Thames at Dartford.
- The 16thC Broughton Manor was originally a Crown property housing part of the retinue at Otford Palace.
- The Shoreham Cross was cut into the chalk hillside above the village in 1920, to commemorate those who lost their lives in World WarⅠ.
- The Shoreham Aircraft Museum was founded by volunteers in 1978 and holds donated items and aviation relics from the crash sites of local British and German aircraft in World WarⅡ.
- The Kings Arms still has its ostler box, a shelter at the front of the pub for the person who used to attend to horses at coaching inns.
- The Mount Vineyard was planted in 2004 and produced its first harvest in 2008. Eight grape varieties are now grown on the 10 acre site, producing award-winning red, white, rosé and sparkling wines.
- Ss Peter and Paul, Shoreham has many interesting features, all described in an informative Visitor's Guide. They include an outstanding wooden rood screen spanning the width of the building and some fine stained glass windows, including one by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones.
- The War Memorial in Darenth Way is inscribed Remember as you look at the cross on the hill those who gave their lives for their country 1914-1919.
- Water House was the home of Samuel Palmer (1805-1881), the Romantic painter of visionary landscapes influenced by William Blake.
- The memorial stone was erected in 1928 by a local Catholic woman (Miss Maud Berkeley) in memory of her late father, Dr EJG Berkeley; she also erected a large crucifix but this was vandalised and later removed to a monastery. The inscription Behold therefore I will allure her and will lead her into the Wilderness and there I will speak to her heart is from Hosea 2:14.
- Lullingstone Park was a medieval deer park in the estate of Lullingstone Castle. Some of its veteran trees (notably oak, hornbeam, beech and sweet chestnut) are over 500 years old. The park was used as a decoy airfield in World WarⅡ and as a result Shoreham was dubbed “the most heavily bombed village in Britain”.
- The wooden fish sculpture was unveiled in 2004 “to celebrate the restoration of the River Darent”.
- The Tudor Gatehouse of Lullingstone Castle was one of the earliest all-brick buildings in Britain.
- St Botolph, Lullingstone dates from the 14thC and contains some impressive memorials to ancestors of the Hart Dyke family, the owners of Lullingstone Castle. It also has an elaborately carved wooden rood screen and some particularly fine stained glass windows, the oldest dating back to the 14thC.
- Eynsford Railway Viaduct was built in 1862 to take the line over the Darent valley, with nine high brick arches and a stone parapet. In the past some repairs have been made with poorly-matched bricks and it has been given listed building status to maintain its original appearance.
- St Martin of Tours, Eynsford was built by one of William the Conqueror's knights in the 11thC on the site of a Saxon church. It has retained its Norman ground plan with apsidal chancel.
» Last updated: February 3, 2020