Greensand Way 9 : Harrietsham or Sutton Valence to Pluckley walk
Greensand Way Stage 9 - fine views from a gentle ridge, orchards and nice pubs
Starting from Sutton Valence: 17.7km (11 miles)
Starting from Harrietsham: 15.9km (9.9 miles)
|Toughness||3 out of 10 with 630 ft (200 meters) of ascent. Gently undulating mainly short climbs. A gentle climb to the Greensand Ridge on the Harrietsham start.|
OS Explorer Map : 137
This is the 9th stage of the Greensand Way (GW) - from Sutton Valence or Harrietsham to Pluckley. A very rural walk with delightful walking through 'Darling Buds' scenery of orchards and meadows. A great pub in pretty village for lunch, and a nice pub by the station for tea.
Two possible starts to the walk are given here. By far the most attractive - as well as satisfying Greensand Way purists - is the one from Sutton Valence. But getting to it involves a 13 minute bus ride from Headcorn station, costing £3.50 at time of writing.
The Harrietsham start gives you a railway station to railway station option, and saves you the bus fare, but this is cancelled out by a more expensive train ticket. Scenically it is much less interesting, crossing a motorway, arable fields and going through coppiced woodland - enlivened by wood anemones in late March and early April and bluebells in late April and early May - but otherwise rather dull.
For the Sutton Valence start, take the train from London Charing Cross, Waterloo East or London Bridge to Headcorn. Buy a day return to Pluckley. There are two trains an hour to Headcorn, but you want one that connects with the hourly Arriva Bus 12 at Headcorn station. Currently the 9.40 train from Charing Cross has a good connection and is advised if you want to get to The George in Egerton in time for lunch. For an early lunch at the Pepper Box the 10.40 from Charing Cross is sufficient.
The bus fare is currently £3.80. If you are a group of four it can be just as cheap to get a taxi from Headcorn station (there are usually some waiting) to Sutton Valence. Once on the bus, the journey takes 13 minutes. After a flat section, with a ridge seen ahead, the bus climbs a long steep hill up into Sutton Valence. Press the button during this climb to get off at the King's Head stop near the top of this hill.
If you miss a connection in Headcorn and have some time to wait for the bus, you can walk into the village and get the bus from there: go down the station approach and turn left on the main road for 400 metres or so to come to the very pretty village centre. The bus stop for Sutton Valence is opposite (on the other side of the road from) the George & Dragon Inn.
For the Harrietsham start, take the train (one an hour) from London Victoria to Harrietsham. The 9.25 is advised if you want to get to The George in time for lunch, though the 10.25 might be OK for faster walkers. A day return to Pluckley might be accepted on this route if you explain you are on walk (it is on a different line entirely, but both are operated by Southeastern). Alternatively you can play safe by buying a day return to Ashford International, which is definitely valid for both lines but quite a bit more expensive.
There are currently two trains an hour back from Pluckley (one an hour on Sundays).
The Pepper Box inn in Fairbourne Heath (01622 842558), 5.3km (3.3 miles) from Sutton Valence and 3.5km (2.2 miles) from Harrietsham, is a very popular pub with excellent food at the junction of the two alternative starts for the walk. It is closed on Mondays, but serves food 12pm-2.15pm and 6-9pm Tuesday to Saturdays and 12-3pm on Sundays, with the pub open for drinks from 11.30am-3pm and 6pm-11pm Monday to Saturday and 12-5pm Sundays. Most of the inside is devoted to table service and even on weekdays it can be quite busy. However, there is an extensive area of outside tables which is accessible to non-reserved customers.
A later option is the George in Egerton (01233 756 599), 11.8km (7.3 miles) from Sutton Valence, 10km (6.2 miles) from Harrietsham, is a smart modern pub with plenty of space inside and a few tables outside, serving what looks like a fairly classic pub menu. It is open all afternoon and evening Wednesday to Sunday (its website says Monday and Tuesday also, but staff told me different in March 2022, so check.)
If you have had lunch at the Pepper Box, the George (see Lunch above) might make a mid afternoon tea stop.
Reachable by a 1.2km diversion off the walk route just before Pluckley village (directions given in the written walk directions), the Rose & Crown (01233 840048) in Mundy Bois, is a pub in a delightful rural location, open all afternoon daily. It makes an excellent tea stop, with a pretty garden with a view of the fields and plenty of comfortable sofas.
The Black Horse Pluckley 01233 841 948 www.blackhorsepluckley.co.uk is a traditional village pub, with a pleasant garden by a church. It is open all afternoon daily and serves hot drinks.
The Dering Arms Station Road, Pluckley, TN27 0RR (01233 840371, www.deringarms.com) . Open 11.30am-3pm, 6-11pm Mon-Sat; noon-4pm Sun. Food served noon-2pm, 6.30-9pm Mon-Sat; noon-2pm Sun. Located beside Pluckley station, this former hunting lodge is now an award-winning pub that specialises in seafood, for which booking is necessary. Note that only a snack menu is available on Sunday evenings.
This walk is one of 11 stages of the Greensand Way - a regional long distance path in the Southeast of England
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (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