Hildenborough to Hadlow or Tonbridge walk

Gentle walk through the Kentish Weald to one of the tallest follies in Britain.


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.

Date Post # Weather
Sat, 09-Nov-19 Saturday Walk Hildenborough to Hadlow 7 grey and damp
Sun, 25-Nov-18 Easy walking in the Kentish Weald 1 overcast
Sat, 08-Jul-17 Hildenborough to Tonbridge - gentle Kentish countryside with two nice pubs 22 hot and humid morning becoming sunnier and hotter
Sat, 24-Sep-16 Saturday Second Walk - Gentle Kentish countryside and a tall tower 30 sunny with a light breeze
Sat, 18-Oct-14 Hildenborough to Hadlow 39
Sat, 18-Oct-14 Hildenborough to Tonbridge
Thu, 12-Jun-14 Hildenborough to Hadlow
Sat, 09-Nov-19
Saturday Walk Hildenborough to Hadlow
Hildenborough to Hadlow

Length: 13.3km (8.2 miles) option of 21.5km (13.4 miles) walking on to Tonbridge
2/3 out of 10

Typical Wealden countryside of fields, meadows and the occasional wood. At Shipbourne (pronounced Shibbun) you join the Greensand Way for a short section to the hamlet of Dunk's Green, then head south-east along the valley of the River Bourne to Hadlow. On this last stretch you find yourself heading towards one of the more peculiar sights you are likely to encounter on a Home Counties walk: a multi-tiered Gothic folly, taller than Nelson's Column.

Note: If walking on to Tonbridge. Apparently the route has been updated quite recently, but the new PDF is not yet loaded but the GPX for that section is the new route.

Get the 1000 Tunbridge Wells train from Charing Cross arriving 1042, London Bridge 1007. Buy a return to Tonbridge
Return is by a bus from Hadlow to Tonbridge High Street, Arriva route 7 every 30 mins approx xx17 xx47 from Hadlow College, journey time 18 minutes

Lunch: Halfway through the Main Walk the Chaser Inn in Shipbourne serves food all afternoon. Half an hour further on you come to the Kentish Rifleman, Dunk's Green. It serves homemade food up to 2pm

Tea: Broadview Gardens Tearoom open to 5pm & convenient for the bus

  • Anonymous

    A lovely misty start redolent of old poems like Horses by Ted Hughes.

    .... And I saw the horses:

    Huge in the dense grey — ten together —

    Megalith-still. They breathed, making no move.........

    The mist cleared by the sun never happened as the sun never made it out and the day was grey and damp for the most part.

    Lunch was at Shipbourne during which we dried off shoes and socks by the fire and discussed bailing out with a bus from there but in the end decided to continue to Hadlow.

    For all the the greyness the day was lovely and a thoroughly enjoyable walk and we wouldn't have had any rain at all if it hadn't been for a newbie out of the blue announcing 'Well we seem to have dodged the rain'. Four of us dashed to touch wood which to a great extent nipped the damage in the bud and we only had a few spots of rain. Three of us had tea and the other four took the bus before us 7

    Grey but great day.

Sun, 25-Nov-18
Easy walking in the Kentish Weald
Hildenborough to Hadlow or Tonbridge

Length: 13.3km (8.2 miles) or 21.5km (13.4 miles) Toughness: 2/3 out of 10

09:59 Hastings train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 10:04; Orpington 10:21) arriving Hildenborough at 10:36.
There are no trains from Charing Cross or Waterloo East today, due to engineering works.

Return trains from Tonbridge to Cannon Street are at xx:07, xx:21, xx:37 and xx:49 (journey time 41 – 47 mins) or to Victoria at xx:16 (journey time 54 mins).

This walk mainly covers typical Wealden countryside of fields, meadows and the occasional wood. At Hadlow you will find a multi-tiered Gothic folly, Hadlow Tower, taller than Nelson’s Column, and now used as a luxury holiday rental property. Nearby is another attraction, Broadview Gardens. The walk extension to Tonbridge is mainly alongside the River Medway.

Two possible lunch pubs en route to Hadlow are the Chaser Inn (01732 810360) in Shipbourme, and the Kentish Rifleman (01732 810727) in Dunks Green.

For those finishing the walk at Hadlow there is a half-hourly bus service to Tonbtidge at 26 and 56 minutes past the hour until 17:26, taking 22 minutes.

You will need to download the Walk Directions.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone planning to go?

  • Anonymous


  • 26-Nov-18

    I missed the scheduled train and did catch up with, if any, other walkers. So number of walkers i can report 1

    As I was running late, I didn't stop at either of the recommended pubs, so the rest of the group may have been in one of them. Walking across fields was tough going with mud clinging to the boots.

    At Hadlow I caught the bus to Tonbridge as the light was fading.


Sat, 08-Jul-17
Hildenborough to Tonbridge - gentle Kentish countryside with two nice pubs
SWC walk 219 - Hildenborough to Tonbridge
Length: 13.3km (8.2 miles) or 21.5km (13.4 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

10.00 train from Charing Cross (10.03 Waterloo East, 10.08 London Bridge, 10.26 Orpington) to Hildenborough, arriving 10.42.

Buy a day return to Tonbridge.

For walk directions click here.

This is an easy saunter across a gentle corner of Kent which takes you to a choice of two lunch pubs, both familiar from other walks. One is the lovely Chaser Inn in Shipbourne with its lovely garden by the church; the other is the more homely Kentish Rifleman in Dunk's Green.

In the afternoon you come to Hadlow, whose strange tower (a 19th century folly) dominates the landscape but is frustratingly hard to get close to. Hadlow's other attraction is Broadview Gardens, free to enter, created by students of the adjacent horticultural college. It has a tea room, with nice outside tables. There are also two tea places in the village open to 5pm, though I have never tried either.

If all those cream cakes have robbed you of your will to carry on, buses run from Hadlow to Tonbridge railway station at 16, 36 and 56 past till 18.16, then 18.43, 19.11, 19.41, 20.11, 20.41... This is the 13.3km (8.2 mile) version of the walk

Or fortified by tea you can continue the walk to Tonbridge (the 21.5km/13.4 mile version of the walk), across flat fields and along the banks of the River Medway.

Trains back from Tonbridge are very frequent: just turn up at the station and one will be imminent. T=3.219
  • 09-Jul-17

    22 departed from Hildenborough station. A hot and humid morning becoming sunnier and hotter as the day wore on. Most of us opted for lunch at the Kentish Trooper where we sat in the garden. Despite initially being somewhat overwhelmed by a sudden influx of walkers and locals, the pub coped admirably, delivering our food with commendable speed and good grace. After a longish break (it was that sort of day) 15 or so of us set out together on the afternoon leg. Five(?) decided to finish at Hadlow and were last seen heading for the Broadview Gardens tea room. The rest of us decided to press on to Tonbridge where one of our number, acting on a hunch found an excellent little tea room (Beyond the Grounds - http://beyondthegrounds.com/ ) overlooking the river and castle on the other side of Big Bridge. The two staff here dealt with our incessant demands for tea (in copious quantities), cake (very nice) and hot and cold water with good humour. Thus refreshed we departed for the train back to the London.

Sat, 24-Sep-16
Saturday Second Walk - Gentle Kentish countryside and a tall tower
SWC walk 219 - Hildenborough to Tonbridge
Length: 13.3km (8.2 miles) or 21.5km (13.4 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

10.00 train from Charing Cross (10.08 London Bridge) to Hildenborough, arriving 10.42

Buy a day return to Tonbridge.

For walk directions click here.

We have so many walks these days that some are created, debuted and then forgotten in our mad rush to try ever-newer walks. (The fact that some walk creators go on to research further walks in the same area does not help....)

According to the database this one has not had an outing since October 2014. After a bit of road walking to start it rises into gentle Wealden countryside and offers a choice of two pubs - the Chaser in Shipbourne and the Kentish Rifleman in Dunk's Green - for lunch.

You might recognise these from SWC walk 41 Yalding to Sevenoaks and relentless seekers after novelty could switch to the afternoon of that walk after lunch if they wanted. But the official route is to carry on to Hadlow, with its tall tower (a folly, which is easily visible but frustratingly inaccessible at ground level) and - perhaps more to the point - Broadview Gardens which has a nice tea room, open till 5pm.

This is the 8.2 mile version of the walk and from here you can catch the 7 or 77 bus to Tonbridge at 02, 24 and 42 past until 17.42, then 18.35, 18.47, 18.55, 19.43, 20.46, 21.46.

Alternatively it is a flat five miles, initially across fields with good views of the Hadlow Tower, latterly along the River Medway, into Tonbridge - the 13.4 mile version of the walk.

Trains back from Tonbridge are very numerous - every ten minutes or so.

  • Anonymous

    After Hadow Tower, you could also detour to the PM of the Tonbridge Circular walk, passing Tudeley Church and it's fabulous Chagall windows: http://www.tudeley.org

    It's open until 6pm over summer (until the clocks go back).

  • 18-Sep-16

    Tudeley church is on the morning of the Tonbridge Circular walk, not the afternoon. You could do this section in reverse to return to Tonbridge, but even if you took the short cut at Five Oak Green this would more than double the length of the walk, from 13¼ km to about 27 km.

    The Tonbridge Circular was posted on two Saturdays in 2015 and I'm rather pleased to see that Walker has chosen to give an outing to its relatively neglected cousin.

  • 24-Sep-16

    A curiously slow and gentle day out.

    Out of 30 people on the walk there was 1 who got an earlier train and 2 arrived on a later train Train dropped us into a sunny with a light breeze day so excellent walking weather and dry under foot which made for ankle breaking journeys across several fields of ploughed hardened mud though as far as I know the day was without incident.

    Incident free ( even for the sock and sandal crew ) the walk is nice and gentle with no real slopes and very green views throughout.

    Throughout there are excellent foragong options for the last knockings of blackberries and a patch of plentiful hedgerow damsons which delayed a few walkers who seemed to be trying to make this their lunch

    Lunch at The Kent Rifleman was good though service slow but ameliorated by a friendly barman and server and nice food at reasonable prices.

    Prices for tea at the Hadlow Garden Centre were standard but don't bother with the chocolate cake ( toooo dry ) and a poor selection of teas and extremely slow service, served I would guess by students from Hadlow Agricultural College but otherwise it was fine ?

    Fine for most of us to get the bus at Hadlow but 6 people or so did the extra 5 miles to Tonbridge with one miraculously being on the station at Tonbridge when we got there.

    There were loads of orchard and windfalls on the last part of the walk acording to the walker who beat us to Tonbridge where it turns out though it is a fair size twon there is no cinema

    Cinema beckoned to a couple of the walkers who spent some time sussing out the cheapest Bridget Jones Baby and ended choosing Shepherds Bush which seemed to fit the bill

    Bill wasn't on the walk this time

    Time – too much on my hands