Hever to Tonbridge walk
The second part of the Eden Valley Walk, through Penshurst and Haysden Country Park to Tonbridge.
Main Walk: 16½ km (10.3 miles). Three hours 40 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7½ hours.
Short Walk 1, finishing at Penshurst: 12½ km (7.8 miles). Two hours 50 minutes walking time.
Short Walk 2, starting from Leigh: 12½ km (7.8 miles). Two hours 45 minutes walking time.
Explorer 147. Hever station, map reference TQ465445, is in Kent, 3 km SE of Edenbridge.
2 out of 10.
This is not an original walk, as it simply follows the published route of the Eden Valley Walk (EVW). It is primarily intended for walkers who want to complete this waymarked trail after doing the first leg in this walk's companion, the Edenbridge Figure-of-8 walk (the EVW option, #344b). Much of its route will be familiar to regular SWC walkers: there are large chunks of the Hever to Leigh walk (1–19) and the Leigh Circular walk (#92a), as well as (in the reverse direction) the Cowden to Hever walk (#78″) and the Tonbridge to Penshurst walk (#235).
After a slightly different start the first section is essentially the same as Walk 1–19, through Hever village and past the grounds of Hever Castle to Hill Hoath. It then switches to Walk #92a, bypassing Chiddingstone and taking the Old Coach Road into Penshurst. This attractive village is dominated by Penshurst Place, a well-preserved medieval manor house with an attractive formal garden, the home of the Sidney family since the 16thC. It is open weekends from mid-February to March, and daily from April to October; admission is £12, or £10 for the gardens only (2019).
The River Eden flows into the Medway outside Penshurst and the second half of this walk follows the course of this larger river, with some variations from the route of Walk #235 through Haysden Country Park and into Tonbridge (pronounced Tunbridge: see Walk Notes). The walk passes the impressive remains of Tonbridge Castle and leads into the Medway Valley Walk at the town's ‘Big Bridge’, from where it is a short walk along the High Street to the station.
For convenience two link routes between Penshurst village and its nearest stations have been taken from the Penshurst Circular walk (#300) and the Leigh to Tunbridge Wells walk (1–15). The station called Penshurst is actually in Chiddingstone Causeway and both this and Leigh station are some way from the village, but these links do enable the walk to be split into two slightly shorter walks.
In effect the options in this walk and its companion allow the full Eden Valley Walk to be completed as either one long walk of 29 km, two mid-length walks or three short walks of 12½ km.
Hever is on Southern's Oxted–Uckfield line, which has an hourly off-peak service from London Bridge taking 42 minutes (longer on Sundays, when you have to change at East Croydon and/or Oxted). Tonbridge is on the South Eastern main line from Charing Cross, with four to six fast trains an hour taking 40-45 minutes. The two Short Walks make use of the Redhill–Tonbridge branch line, which has an hourly Southern service between those two stations.
There is no guarantee that any return ticket will be accepted on both the outward and return legs, but the suggested ticket is an “Any Permitted” return to Leigh (Kent)† (as advised for the Hever to Leigh walk). This is valid for travel from London via Redhill or Tonbridge, so it will be accepted for the return leg on South Eastern services. And as Edenbridge is on the Redhill–Tonbridge line a Leigh ticket is arguably also valid to Edenbridge Town, since tickets to the two Edenbridge stations are interchangeable. In theory you should also have a one-stop extension to Hever, but in practice on-board Southern staff have always accepted a Leigh ticket on the outward leg.
† Or a return to Penshurst if finishing there, but the comments about the ticket's validity are the same as for Leigh and the fare from London is the same, so it probably makes no difference.
If you want to finish the walk in Penshurst village, Metrobus 231 & 233 combine to give a regular bus service (Mon–Sat) to Edenbridge in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other, up to around 6pm.
This walk is not very convenient for car drivers but you could park somewhere in Edenbridge, take the train out from Edenbridge Town and return to its other station.
Take the train nearest to 10:00 from London Bridge to Hever. For Short Walk 2, take the train nearest to 11:00 to Leigh (changing at Tonbridge) if you want to break for lunch in Penshurst.
There are two possible lunch places in Penshurst village, halfway through the Main Walk. For a pub lunch the refurbished Leicester Arms Hotel (01892-871617) is an up-market establishment with a large garden, serving food until around 2.30pm (4pm Sun). A little further on, the Porcupine Pantry (01892-870307) is just outside the main entrance to Penshurst Place and open daily to non-visitors; it has indoor and outdoor seating and serves light lunches and afternoon teas, but might struggle to cope with a large group.
If you are doing the complete Eden Valley Walk as a Long Walk the suggested place to break for lunch is in Hever village, where the King Henry Ⅷ inn (01732-862457) has an attractive garden and serves food to 3pm (all afternoon Sun).
There are plenty of refreshment places at the end of the full walk in Tonbridge, with the direct route to the station passing several cafés and coffee shops on the High Street. If you get there in time, the suggested tea place (serving excellent home-made cakes) is Finch House Café (01732-771775; open to 6pm Mon–Sat, 5pm Sun) at the front of the Pavilion Shopping Centre, a few minutes walk from the station. The High Street is not short of pubs either; one with a beer garden overlooking the river is The Humphrey Bean (01732-773850), a JD Wetherspoon's pub in the old Post Office building.
If you are doing one of the walk variations and want to break for tea in Penshurst village, the suggested place is the Fir Tree House tearoom (01892-870382; open from 2.30-6pm, Wed–Sun), with the two lunch places listed above as alternatives. If you finish at Penshurst station, the nearby Little Brown Jug (01892-870318) is usually open all day and serves tea and coffee as well as normal pub fare.
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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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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
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- Main Walk (16½ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
If you doing Short Walk 2 (from Leigh), start at §D.
- Hever Station to Hill Hoath (4 km)
- Cross the footbridge and leave Hever station on a path sloping up the bank to join the Eden Valley Walk (EVW), heading south-east. Turn left onto Hever Lane to cross the railway. At a T-junction keep ahead on a footpath leading to Hever Road, and turn right onto this to reach Hever village. Take the footpath through the churchyard and along the south side of Hever Castle grounds. Continue around the edge of Park Wood, across a lane and through Moor Wood to the hamlet of Hill Hoath.
- Arriving from London on Platform 2, do not go out through the station forecourt but cross the footbridge and take the path sloping up the bank behind Platform 1. At the top bear left onto a narrow path, joining the Eden Valley Walk? (EVW). Follow the path past a few cottages and continue on a driveway, going through a wooden fieldgate along the way. At the end turn left onto a minor road (Hever Lane).
- Go over the railway bridge to a T-junction and take the signposted footpath opposite, a fenced path to the right of a driveway. After going over a stile the path continues between the attractive Chippens Bank House? and its ornamental lake. The spire of Hever church is visible ahead on your right and later the Walk 1–19 route joins through a gap in the hedge.
- At the end go through a wooden kissing gate and turn right onto Hever Road; you will be walking along this fairly busy road for 500m and need to take care as there is no pavement. In 50m turn left to stay on Hever Road (ahead is Uckfield Lane). Follow this round a right-hand bend and up a slope into Hever village, passing the King Henry Ⅷ inn at a sharp left-hand bend.
Go straight ahead on a signposted footpath through the lychgate of St Peter's church? (which is worth a visit) and follow it through the churchyard. At the back the path swings right and left, crosses a stream and continues between fences, passing the grounds of Hever Castle? on the left.
Through the trees you can sometimes glimpse events taking place in the grounds, but there is no view of the castle or its ornamental gardens from the public footpath.
- In 450m the path turns sharply right into woodland, away from the castle grounds and alongside a driveway. The right of way later crosses it on a wooden footbridge, but at the time of writing the bridge had collapsed and walkers were being directed along the drive. The footpath eventually emerges from the woodland to continue on a broad grassy verge alongside the drive, initially heading SE and then turning left.
- After heading ENE for 250m the path swings right towards a pair of cottages. Go through a wicket gate in front of the left-hand cottage onto a fenced path heading ESE, usually with alpacas and other farm animals in the fields on your left. At the end go straight across a lane onto the continuation of the footpath. In 150m this narrow and potentially muddy path zig-zags right and left, crosses a couple of streams and enters Moor Wood.
- Follow the path up a short flight of steps and through the wood, crossing one or two horse rides along the way. The path bends right and comes to a T-junction with a bridleway in front of a field. Turn left onto this path, which goes gently uphill through a sandstone rock cutting, then descends. Keep ahead on a short unsurfaced lane into the hamlet of Hill Hoath, passing an attractive low-lying house Withers? on the left and coming to a T-junction.
This section is mostly the same as Walk 1–19, but with a different start in order to join up with the Eden Valley Walk on its route from Edenbridge.
- Head south-east through Hill Hoath and follow the footpath across Wellers Town Road, past Wat Stock and along the old coach road into Penshurst, crossing the River Eden along the way. Turn left briefly onto the B2176, then double back on a footpath through Penshurst Park to enter the village via the churchyard.
- At the road junction turn right, leaving the Walk 1–19 route. After passing a few more houses keep left where the lane opens out, ignoring another footpath ahead past some stables. Head E along a farm track and take a surfaced path to the left of some new buildings. Continue on a grassy path and fork right where this splits, onto a clear straight path heading SE.
- In 300m, soon after a narrow path joins from the left, go through a kissing gate into a wood. Continue along the attractive woodland path for 400m, climbing gently at first. At the far end go over a stile to emerge on a minor road (Wellers Town Road).
- Cross the road and continue on a bridleway just off to the right, going through a metal fieldgate to head diagonally across a field on a grassy path. On the far side leave it through another gate and turn left onto a lane, which soon bends left round a large pond. In a further 50m keep ahead on an unsurfaced track past some derelict farm buildings.
You now follow this potentially muddy track (the old coach road) all the way down to Penshurst, with occasional views over the Eden Valley on your left and a huge array of polytunnels behind the line of trees on your right. After a long descent the driveway from Salmans Farms joins from the right and you cross the River Eden? on a brick bridge.
This is the one and only place where the Eden Valley Walk meets the river after crossing it outside Edenbridge at Delaware Farm.
- In a further 500m you reach the B2176, with Penshurst Place visible in the grounds ahead. To stay on the EVW turn left onto the road, briefly heading away from the village. In 125m go through a metal kissing gate into Penshurst Park and take the right-hand of two signposted footpaths (almost doubling back), a faint grassy path heading directly towards the church tower.
- In the corner of the parkland go through a kissing gate onto a path through the churchyard of St John the Baptist church? (which is worth visiting; its entrance is on the south side). Leave the churchyard through an archway? and go past the picturesque houses in Leicester Square? to the B2176.
- The walk continues through the entrance arch for Penshurst Place off to the left (with the Porcupine Pantry 500m further on), but if you want a pub lunch turn right to come to the Leicester Arms Hotel on your left.
If you are doing the Main Walk to Tonbridge, go to §E.
- Retrace your steps through Leicester Square and the churchyard. Take the footpath heading north and then north-east through Penshurst Park. At the top of a slope fork left onto a footpath towards Park Farm, eventually coming out onto Penshurst Road near its junction with Cinder Hill Lane. Turn left briefly onto this road, then turn sharp right to go along Cinder Hill Lane for 500m. Continue on a footpath along field edges past Little Moorden to the B2176 at Moorden. Turn right onto this road and fork left onto the long station approach road to reach Penshurst station.
- For Short Walk 1 retrace your steps through Leicester Square and the churchyard. On entering the parkland take the right-hand of two grassy paths ahead. The path stays close to the hedge-topped stone wall guarding the manor house and then curves gently to the right. Cross the estate's driveway via two metal kissing gates and continue along a tree-lined avenue, in 75m merging with another grassy path from the left.
- Follow a track through the right-hand line of trees. Continue on a broad grassy path heading N, at first alongside the avenue and then moving slightly away from it. In 300m go through a kissing gate in a fence and turn right to continue across the parkland, soon alongside a wooden fence with a line of clipped yew trees on the other side.
- After going through another gate the path turns left past the lifeless trunk of the veteran Sidney Oak? (with a plaque recording that it expired in 2016). Follow the grassy path up a gentle slope, through a gate and then up a broad tree-lined avenue.
- At the top keep ahead at a three-way footpath signpost to go through a wide gap in the trees (unless you want to make for Leigh station, 2 km away along the avenue to the right). After going through the trees do not continue on the broad grassy path ahead but immediately fork right onto another grassy track. Follow this through the parkland for 500m, heading NE.
- At the bottom of a dip go straight across an estate track to continue on a grassy track climbing through a lightly wooded area. In 250m the track passes a huge oak tree and turns half-left, dropping down to a T-junction at the edge of the estate. Turn left to come out onto Penshurst Road.
- Turn left briefly onto Penshurst Road, cross over carefully and almost immediately turn sharp right into Cinder Hill Lane. Follow this narrow country lane down a slope, past a few houses and between fields and a wood for 500m, making several turns to the left.
- Where the lane turns right to cross over the railway line, keep ahead briefly on the driveway to Little Moorden, signposted as a footpath. In 100m, where it bends left and there is a fieldgate ahead, go over a stile between them to continue along the left-hand edge of a large field, parallel to the drive on the other side of a hedge.
- In 400m keep ahead through a fieldgate and continue along the edge of another field. In the next corner follow a grassy farm track into the trees on the left. In 100m go past some outbuildings and veer left onto a driveway going up a short slope and then round to the right, coming out onto the B2176.
- Turn right and go along this road for 125m, taking care as there is no pavement. Where it bends right after passing a converted oast house “Moorden” fork left onto a long straight lane (Station Hill). In 400m this leads into the parking area for a timber yard.
Go across the parking area onto Platform 1 of Penshurst station. Trains to Redhill leave from this side; cross the footbridge to Platform 2 for a train to Tonbridge and/or the pub.
- If you want some refreshment before the journey back the Little Brown Jug is on the other side of the B2027, directly opposite the station.
- Head south from the station along the road and turn right onto a footpath. Follow this through the Penshurst Place Estate, veering left after 1½ km to go downhill, past the lake and through Penshurst Park. Pass to the right of Penshurst Place and go through the churchyard to the B2176 in the village.
- From either platform at Leigh station, take the path down to the road. Turn left and walk along it for 250m, taking care as there is no pavement. At Paul's Hill House turn right up a rough track which soon enters the Penshurst Place Estate. Where it comes to an open field, follow a grassy path across it to the far left-hand corner.
- Continue in the same direction along a broad tree-lined avenue for 1 km, ignoring a footpath off to the right after 100m and another to the left after 500m. Eventually, where another footpath joins from the right, turn left downhill along another tree-lined avenue towards a lake, with Penshurst Place beyond.
- After going through a gate, the right of way continues ahead for 150m and then turns half-right at a footpath signpost, but most walkers bear right onto a clear grassy path cutting off this corner. Go through a gate by the lifeless trunk of the veteran Sidney Oak? (with a plaque recording that it expired in 2016) and continue alongside a fence, with the lake and a line of clipped yew trees on the other side.
- Follow the grassy path up to a kissing gate in the next fence. Go through this and head S across the parkland towards the right-hand side of Penshurst Place. After passing a cricket pitch on your left, cross the estate's driveway via two metal kissing gates. Continue towards the corner of the hedge-topped stone wall guarding the manor house and keep ahead with the wall on your left-hand side.
This section is the same as the start of Walk 1–15.
- Head east out of the village on the access road to Penshurst Place. Continue on the private road towards Well Place Farm, which you skirt by taking a footpath up a field to its left. Head north-east along a track to Killick's Bank. Turn half-right onto a footpath going down to the River Medway and continue alongside it to a road. Cross the river on Ensfield Bridge and turn left onto a path along the other bank. Continue alongside the western part of the Straight Mile into Haysden Country Park.
- From the centre of the village return along the B2176 and go past the houses in Leicester Square. Where the road turns right keep ahead through the stone and brick archway for Penshurst Place, signposted as Cycle Route 12 (which you will be following intermittently into Tonbridge).
As you go along the driveway a locked gate in the high brick wall on your left affords you a glimpse of the formal gardens. At the end of the wall you pass the large car park for Penshurst Place on the left.
- The Porcupine Pantry is at the back of this car park. If you are stopping there for refreshment, return to this lane afterwards.
- Continue along the driveway for 400m (shown as a private road to Well Place, but still a public footpath). Shortly before it starts to ascend, turn left through a squeeze gate into a field, temporarily leaving CR 12. Go along the field edge parallel to the road, then through another squeeze gate. Follow a broad grassy path diagonally up the next field (with a fine view back to Penshurst Place).
- At the top go through a squeeze gate to the right of a fieldgate and head NE along a track. In 80m keep ahead where it joins a concrete lane, rejoining CR 12 for the next 600m to Killick's Bank. After passing this isolated house veer right across a lane junction. Go through a squeeze gate (or over a nearby stile) into a field.
- Follow a faint grassy path downhill, heading E. At the bottom of the field cross a wooden bridge over a backwater and go across the grass to the River Medway. Turn left and walk along the riverbank to Ensfield Bridge. Turn right onto the road to cross over the river, rejoining CR 12 again.
- On the other side of the bridge turn left and follow the cycle route for about 400m. Where it bends left down a slope go through a wooden squeeze gate in the fence to maintain direction near the left-hand edge of a large field. On the far side go over a stile and a ditch into another field. Bear left across its corner towards a nearby gate and go through it onto a short path through the tree boundary to a path crossing.
- Turn right at this path crossing onto a long straight tree-lined path with a water channel on the left (the western part of the Straight Mile?), rejoining CR 12 for another 500m but finally leaving the Walk 1–19 route. Just before a footbridge over the channel ignore a path off to the right (signposted as the cycle route through the country park) and cross the James Christie Bridge into Haysden Country Park?.
Apart from the last 500m, this section is the same as Walk 1–19.
Follow the perimeter path around three sides of Haysden Water, then go under the A21 viaduct and over the flood embankment to continue alongside the eastern part of the Straight Mile. Turn left to cross the channel on Straight Mile Bridge, joining the Wealdway (WW). Go under the railway line, cross the New Cut on Friendship Bridge and head north-east alongside the water channel for over 1 km. On the far side of the country park turn right at a T-junction and follow the path under the South Eastern main line. Go around the edge of large playing fields and past Tonbridge Castle to Big Bridge in the town centre. Turn right onto the High Street to reach the station.
- On the other side of the bridge an inconspicuous path on the right makes a loop through the trees to a viewpoint across Haysden Water, but there are soon good views of this sailing lake from the main path. Ignore all side paths and follow this perimeter path for 500m around three sides of the lake, eventually heading SSE parallel with the elevated A21.
- Where you can see the path rising up a slope 50m ahead, veer left across a patch of open ground underneath the viaduct. This leads to a grassy track with some plastic matting which crosses a stream at Botany Bridge.
- Climb up the flood embankment ahead, from the top of which you can see several paths into the trees ahead. Make your way onto the path just to the right of some low metal railings, which you will find are protecting a water channel flowing out of a culvert (the eastern part of the Straight Mile).
- Follow the path alongside the channel for 300m, then turn left to cross it on the elegant Straight Mile Bridge, joining the Wealdway? (WW) for the remainder of the walk. Ignore Rainbow Bridge on the right (signposted to the Car Park) and keep ahead under the low brick bridge carrying the Redhill–Tonbridge railway line?.
- Follow the path round to the right by the entrance to Heusenstamm Wood?, then in 50m turn left to cross the New Cut? on Friendship Bridge. On the far side turn right onto a tree-lined path parallel to the wide water channel, with large farm fields on the left.
- In 1 km you pass a white-painted latticed metal bridge (Lucifer Bridge) and rejoin the cycle route which diverted away before the country park; there are parallel pedestrian and cycle paths for much of the remaining route into Tonbridge?, so avoid those marked CR 12 where there is a choice.
- After passing a WW Ⅱ pillbox and crossing a couple of bridges over side streams the path comes to a T-junction. Turn right onto a broad woodland path alongside a water channel, the outflow from the Powder Mills? site. In 250m follow the path under a low railway bridge carrying the South Eastern main line and continue between playing fields and meadows.
- The path eventually swings right and comes to the access road to some car parks. Keep ahead through a small car park, passing an outdoor model railway? on the right. Veer left in front of Tonbridge Swimming Pool to cross a footbridge over a stream.
Turn right onto a tarmac path, with the tall Motte (mound) of Tonbridge Castle? beyond the ditch on your left. Where the path continues alongside the River Medway, there is a path up to the left.
- You might like to detour up this path for a closer look at the imposing Gatehouse, or to climb the Motte.
The riverside path comes out onto Tonbridge's High Street by the town's Big Bridge.
This is where the Eden Valley Walk leads into the Medway Valley Walk, although the prominent “Recreational Walking Route” information panel here chooses to celebrate the Wealdway (which follows the river for 6 km before heading north to the Kent Coast at Gravesend).
- There are several cafés and pubs nearby, on both sides of the river. Tonbridge station is nearly 600m away to the right, so unless you want to look for places on this side of the river, cross the bridge to walk along the High Street.
- The beer garden you might have noticed across the river belongs to The Humphrey Bean, one of the first buildings on the right. The Finch House Café is 300m further on, on the left-hand side of the High Street at the front of the Pavilion Shopping Centre.
To complete the walk cross back to the right-hand side of the main road and follow it up the slope beyond the roundabout. The station entrance is at the top; trains to London usually leave from Platform 2 (down the steps on the left).
» Last updated: April 7, 2021