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Leeds Castle

04-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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"The Wild Boar Family" sculpture

04-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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St Margaret's church, Hucking

11-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Wildflower meadow, Hollingbourne Meadows

20-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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"The Shepherd" sculpture

31-Jul-16 • Sean O'Neill

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Hook & Hatchet Inn, Hucking

16-Jul-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Hollingbourne Meadows

16-Jul-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Hollingbourne Circular via Hucking walk

An attractive woodland estate at the top of the North Downs and a circuit through the grounds of Leeds Castle to finish

Hollingbourne Circular, via Hucking
Length

Main Walk: 17¾ km (11.0 miles). Four hours 35 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.

Short Walk, omitting Hucking Estate: 13 km (8.1 miles). Three hours 25 minutes walking time.

Curtailed Walk, omitting Leeds Castle: 12½ km (7.8 miles). Three hours 10 minutes walking time.

OS Map

Explorer 148. Hollingbourne, map reference TQ833551, is in Kent, 8 km E of Maidstone.

Toughness

5 out of 10 (4 for the Short Walk, 3 for the Curtailed Walk).

Features

For much of the train journey you can see the North Downs ridge off to your left and from the station you are soon striding across vast farm fields towards this open downland. A fairly steep little climb then takes you straight into the Woodland Trust's Hucking Estate, an unexpected oasis of grassland and woodland in a landscape dominated by arable farming.

The walk continues with a circuit through this attractive estate, going out along grassy rides and woodland paths to the tiny hamlet of Hucking before looping back along a wide open valley. After leaving the estate you join the North Downs Way as it slants down the hillside to Upper Street, one of the three settlements which make up Hollingbourne village.

The walk concludes with a contrasting section on the other side of the village. After going through the deceptively peaceful Hollingbourne Meadows you have to suffer the constant roar of motorway traffic, high-speed trains thundering past and a dreary stretch alongside the busy A20. This dismal link route is the price you pay for some stunning views of a famous castle as you traverse its grounds on public rights of way.

Modestly describing itself as “the Loveliest Castle in the World”, the moated setting of Leeds Castle is certainly spectacular. Built by a Norman knight in 1119, it became a royal residence for 300 years in the Middle Ages, then a private home in Tudor times. Its last private owner was an American heiress who undertook extensive renovations and left it to a charitable trust in 1974. If you want to visit the castle buildings or deviate from the public footpaths in any way you would need to buy an entrance ticket for £25.50 (2018), although this is effectively an annual pass as it allows unlimited repeat visits for a year.

Additional Notes

This walk has been split off from Extra Walk 221 (now Hollingbourne Circular via Thurnham), its alternative route via Hucking having been scuppered when the Hook & Hatchet Inn (see below) closed for two years. This revised walk's option of a later lunch stop in Upper Street has made the attractive section through the Hucking Estate feasible again.

The two walks share the same loop through the grounds of Leeds Castle – there are few viable alternatives as the A20, M20 & HS1 constitute a formidable triple barrier – but for variety it is described here in the opposite direction.

Walk Options

There are many attractive paths and rides through the Hucking Estate and if you pick up the Woodland Trust's leaflet you could easily devise some alternative routes. If you are not stopping at the early lunch pub you can save 1 km by taking the short cut described in the text, while the designated Short Walk cuts out the whole woodland section. These and other short cuts would be worth considering if you started an hour late and wanted to catch up the main group.

For a Curtailed Walk you could omit the afternoon loop through the grounds of Leeds Castle, perhaps replacing it with a longer stroll around Hollingbourne Meadows.

No specific route for a very short “castle-only” walk is given, but you could easily devise your own link route from the station to the walk's afternoon section, either looping out via Upper Street or going directly through Eyhorne Street.

Transport

There is an hourly off-peak service from London Victoria to Hollingbourne (on the London–Maidstone–Ashford line), taking about 1 hour 5 minutes (slightly longer on Sundays).

If driving, there is a small free car park at the station.

The only bus service on the walk route is Arriva 13, which runs infrequently from Hollingbourne church through Eyhorne Street to Maidstone (Mon–Sat).

Suggested Train

Take the train nearest to 09:30 from Victoria to Hollingbourne for the Main Walk, or the train an hour later for the Short Walk. The later train would also be suitable if you plan to stop at the first lunch pub (see below).

Train Times

Lunch

The first pub on the Main Walk route (after 6 km) is the Hook & Hatchet Inn (01622-880272) in Hucking, which reopened in 2016 after being closed for nearly two years. This refurbished country pub has a particularly attractive garden and serves “simple and delicious” home-cooked food all day. It would be a good choice after a late start, and is near the middle of the Curtailed Walk.

The more up-market Dirty Habit (01622-880880) in Upper Street (Hollingbourne) is more conveniently placed as a lunch stop, after 10 km on the Main Walk (9 km with the short cut) and 5¼ km on the Short Walk. It has a quiet patio area at the back and serves excellent though rather pricey food to 2.30pm weekdays, all day at weekends.

The other pubs on or near the walk route are closer to the end of the walk and are listed below as tea places, but most claim to serve food all day so might serve as alternative lunch places.

Tea

Near the end of the walk, there are two pubs in Eyhorne Street for refreshment before the journey home. The Windmill (01622-889000) is an up-market pub/restaurant, while the Sugar Loaves (01622-880220) is a more traditional village pub, serving food all day. Both have back gardens away from the road.

On the way back from the castle grounds a short detour down the A20 would take you to the Park Gate Inn (01622-880985), a Vintage Inns pub. This “country pub & dining” establishment normally serves food all day and has a large (though not quiet) beer garden.

It is tempting to suggest the refreshment places inside the grounds of Leeds Castle but that would entail leaving the public footpaths and there are prominent notices stating that walkers are not entitled to do this. However, there may be kiosks on the paths and no doubt their vendors would be happy to sell you food and drink en passant.

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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Apr-18

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Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Hollingbourne Circular, via Hucking

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map: Hollingbourne Circular, via Hucking Walk Map

Walk Options

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (17¾ km)
  1. Short Walk, omitting Hucking Estate (13 km)
  2. Curtailed Walk, omitting Leeds Castle (12½ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

  1. Hollingbourne Station to Broad Street (1¾ km)
  2. Leave the station via an unmarked path behind the station building and turn right to come to a crossing point over the tracks. Cross over and turn left to go down to the field corner. Cross a stream in the hedge and turn right to follow the footpath northwards, all the way to the hamlet of Broad Street.

    The start of this walk might change because in early 2018 there was a proposal to replace the nearby footpath crossing over the railway tracks with a new right of way across the station footbridge. If there is a new footpath from Platform 2 leading directly to the north side of the old crossing point, take this and pick up the directions at [•] below.

    For the time being, cross the footbridge (when arriving from London) and go into the small station car park. Do not leave down the station approach road but go round to the back of the station building and take an unsigned path up a tree-lined bank. At the top go over an awkward stile and turn right onto a potentially muddy farm track. This comes out into a field where you bear right towards a crossing over the railway line, 75m ahead. Cross the tracks with great care (trains not stopping at the station will be going very fast) and turn left on the far side.

    [•] Go along the field edge, with the railway on your left. In the bottom corner go through a gap in the tree boundary and across a ditch on a plank footbridge into the bottom corner of a field. Turn half-right to head diagonally across this large irregularly-shaped field, heading N.

    When last checked the farmland for the next 1 km looked very neglected and the field paths had not been marked out.

    Aim for the left-hand end of a distant line of trees 250m away, passing to the left of another projecting group of trees along the way. At this second set of trees bear slightly right and head for a clump of three trees in front of the left-hand edge of a wood (with the houses of Broad Street a further 1 km ahead).

    Keep ahead at a footpath marker in the clump and then continue alongside the wood, ignoring a footpath branching off to the left along the way. At the far corner of the wood bear slightly left, aiming for the the right-hand end of another wood 400m away and still heading N.

    At this wood bear slightly right towards the corner of a hedge 200m away. Bear right to go alongside it, then halfway along go through a gate in the hedge into a meadow. Turn half-right and follow a grassy path to another gate, which leads out onto a lane (Pilgrims Way1) in the hamlet of Broad Street.

  3. Broad Street to Bolton's Wood (1½ km)
  4. Continue on the footpath a little way off to the right on Pilgrims Way. Where this comes out onto the foot of the downs, turn half-left to reach a lane (Broad Street Hill). Cross it and turn right to climb steeply up the downs, turning right at the top onto the North Downs Way (NDW). Go back across Broad Street Hill and continue briefly along the NDW, then turn left to enter the Hucking Estate. Follow the signposted NDW Link across the grassland, past a viewpoint to a gap between Bolton's Wood and Forestall Wood.

    Turn right briefly onto the lane, then in 25m turn left at a footpath signpost. Go over a stile and follow a rather awkward narrow path as it zig-zags between hedges and fences for about 250m. At the end go over a stile into the bottom of a field at the foot of the downs. Turn left as indicated, go over another stile and continue in the same direction towards a double wooden fieldgate in a gap in the trees 200m ahead, climbing gently.

    Go over a stile to the left of the fieldgate, across a lane (Broad Street Hill) and through a wooden kissing gate onto another part of the downs. Turn right and make your way up the side of the downs, staying fairly close to the trees and lane on your right. After climbing steadily for just over 300m (with increasingly fine views off to your left) you reach the top right-hand corner. Go over a stile and turn right onto the North Downs Way2 (NDW). Go down a few steps, across Broad Street Hill and up steps on the other side to continue briefly on the NDW.

    You soon come to a path junction where you turn left onto the signposted North Downs Way Link, entering the Hucking Estate3. Turn right by a Woodland Trust information panel onto a grassy path, parallel to the NDW. At the end go through a kissing gate onto open grassland and bear slightly left, as indicated by a yellow waymarker. In 150m turn half-right at another marker post by some gorse bushes, now also on the Woodland Trust's Landscape Trail (a green waymarker).

    A faint grassy path leads you to a fine viewpoint with a wooden sculpture “The Shepherd”4 gazing out over the Wealden Greensand. Continue along the grassy path, passing an information panel about the sculpture. Shortly before the grassland narrows there is a marker post where the yellow waymarker points slightly right and the green waymarker slightly left.

    The Main Walk features a circuit around the Hucking Estate, initially along the Landscape Trail, whereas the Short Walk simply continues on the North Downs Way Link. If you are cutting out this circuit, therefore, bear right as indicated by the yellow arrow and go to §6 to continue the Short Walk.

  5. Bolton's Wood to Hucking Bank (2 km)
  6. Hucking Bear left and go through a gate into Bolton's Wood. Turn right at a path junction and follow the Woodland Trust's Landscape Trail on a long straight ride through Bolton's Wood and Smokes Wood, then on a woodland path through Stubs Wood. Join a bridleway leading out to Church Road and turn left to go through the hamlet of Hucking. In 200m re-enter the Hucking Estate via a track on the left.

    Hucking Estate Bear left as indicated by the green arrow and go up to a gate in the wire fence on your left. Go through this and across a small patch of grassland into Bolton's Wood. In 175m turn right at a path junction, following the green waymarker.

    The path swings right and comes out into a more open area, where you turn left and then take the left-hand of two broad grassy rides, heading NNE. In 350m you come to a path crossing with the second wooden sculpture, “The Living Log”. Keep ahead to continue through Smokes Wood.

    In a further 350m keep ahead at the next path crossing (with a small tree in the centre), into Stubs Wood. The woodland path swings left and right through a dip, then straightens out. The path eventually bends right and you leave the wood through a gate.

    Turn left (leaving the Landscape Trail) and follow a broad grassy track towards Hucking church. At the end turn left onto a lane (Church Road), where St Margaret's church5 is worth a quick visit, if open.

    Continue along Church Road for 200m, with glimpses of the Isle of Grain 16 km away to the right. Shortly after the lane bends left and starts to descend, fork left onto a track going back into the Hucking Estate, emerging in the top corner of a valley.

  7. Hucking Bank to Hucking Valley (1½ or ½ km)
  8. If you are not stopping for an early pub lunch you can simply go down the valley for 500m, but for the main route go straight across it and up the other side. Go round a wood on the left to emerge onto an open plateau. Turn right and go along its edge to the next corner, with the Hook & Hatchet Inn just outside on a lane. Return to the plateau and go diagonally across it to the opposite corner. Follow a winding path through Calves Wood, later dropping down to a gap between two valleys.

    There is a choice of routes for this section. The main route loops around the north-western corner of the estate where there is a pub (and the third wooden sculpture). If you are planning to visit the later pub in Upper Street you can take the short cut in §4b.

    1. Main route (1½ km)
    2. Go straight ahead across the valley floor and up the other side, aiming for the right-hand end of the wood on the far side. At the top go around the right-hand side of the trees and along a broad strip of grassland. At the end go through a gate on the left into the corner of a grassy plateau. Turn right and make your way across the grassland towards the right-hand corner; if you move slightly away from the edge you will pass another wooden sculpture, “The Tranchet Axe”.

      The continuation of the walk is back across this plateau, but to visit the early lunch pub leave through the gate in this north-western corner and turn right onto a lane to come to the Hook & Hatchet Inn.

      To resume the walk, return to the plateau and go diagonally across it to the opposite corner. Ignore a gate leading out to a lane and go through another gate to its left. Continue on a potentially muddy path between a wood and a hedge, parallel to the lane on the right. Ignore another exit to the lane and stay on the woodland path, which zig-zags left and right. Soon after this second turning, the path goes down a short flight of wooden steps to a T-junction where you turn right.

      Follow the path as it winds its way through Calves Wood, gradually turning more to the left. In 150m you pass a large semi-cleared area on your left. At the end of this ignore a fork to the left and go down a narrow path alongside a belt of trees. At the bottom go through a gate into a gap between two open valleys, where the walk continues to the right.

    3. Short cut (½ km)
    4. Turn left and go along the side of the grassy bank, gradually dropping down towards the valley floor. The valley curves gently to the right and leads you towards a wide gap in the trees with a double fieldgate, where the main route rejoins from a path on the right.

  9. Hucking Valley to Bolton's Wood (1¼ km)
  10. Go along the grassy valley for 600m, gradually curving to the right. At the far end turn left by a wooden sculpture and go through a gate into Bolton's Wood. Follow a grassy path heading south-east through the trees, eventually retracing your outward route for a short distance.

    There is a right of way along the enclosed path to the left of the valley (also part of the Landscape Trail), but unless the double fieldgate ahead is locked you could choose to walk along the centre of the valley; from the path you will need to go through a side gate into the valley after 300m, as indicated by a green waymarker. Either way, continue along the valley floor for a further 300m, gradually curving to the right. At the far end you come to the final wooden sculpture “The Wild Boar Family” in front of a fence.

    Turn left at the sculpture and go through a gate in the corner of the valley, under a large tree. Continue in the same direction on a long grassy path through a wood, heading SE. Ignore side paths, eventually including the one on the left you took at the start of this circuit. Retrace your steps out of Bolton's Wood and back onto the open grassland.

  11. Bolton's Wood to Upper Street (2 km)
  12. Leave the Hucking Estate in its south-eastern corner and turn right onto a byway. In 125m turn left to rejoin the NDW, initially heading south-east through a lightly wooded area, then out onto open downland. After skirting a large depression (Eden's Hole) stay on the NDW as it slants down across the face of the downs, then turns right. Continue alongside a sunken lane (Hollingbourne Hill), eventually dropping down onto it to reach the Dirty Habit pub in Upper Street.

    Head SE across the grassland towards a fieldgate on the far side. Leave the Hucking Estate through a wooden side gate and turn right onto a potentially muddy byway. In 125m you come to a NDW Link signpost and a Woodland Trust information panel, meeting the NDW coming up from the opposite direction. Turn left through a wooden gate, rejoining the NDW.

    Follow the winding grassy path through a lightly-wooded area, heading roughly SE. In 200m the path passes under overhead cables and later emerges onto open downland (with Leeds Castle just visible in the trees, 3 km ahead). Follow the NDW round to the left as indicated. In front of you there is a large wooded depression (Eden's Hole) and the NDW has to swing left to get around it, with a stretch along a fenced grassy track beside a huge farm field.

    The track eventually swings right to re-emerge onto the downs. The NDW now descends gently for 250m; the right of way includes a slightly awkward stretch through a copse, but there is also a well-trodden alternative path skirting around it to the right. The path then goes through a gate and levels off, curving round to the left.

    In 200m turn right at a footpath marker to go down to the bottom corner of the field and through a belt of trees. Go through a side gate and along the left-hand edge of a field, with a sunken lane (Hollingbourne Hill) down to your left. In 200m veer left to continue on a short narrow path above the lane. After joining the lane you soon come to a crossroads with Pilgrims Way, with the Dirty Habit pub at the top of Upper Street in the village of Hollingbourne6.

    The station is 1½ km away. If you want to abandon the walk go down Upper Street, passing some attractive old houses. After a left-hand bend, turn right into Church Lane and go through a lychgate into the churchyard of All Saints church. Take the surfaced path going past its right-hand side and then across a large field. At the end go past a primary school and turn right onto a road. The long station approach road is on the right, just after the railway bridge. Platform 1 on the near side is for trains to London.

  13. Upper Street to Hollingbourne Meadows (1½ km)
  14. Continue briefly along the NDW and turn right onto a footpath going round the eastern edge of the village, then along a belt of trees beside a road. Follow the road round to the right and turn left onto a footpath going under the railway. Go through Hollingbourne Meadows and up a slope on a permissive path to a smaller meadow.

    From the crossroads outside the pub take the narrow lane heading SE, passing the pub's patio garden and main car park on your right. In 125m, at the end of the houses, turn right onto a fenced path to the left of a driveway, signposted as a footpath and leaving the NDW. After passing some gardens this zig-zags right and left and comes out onto a driveway, bringing you back to the road at a sharp bend.

    Instead of joining the road veer left onto a signposted footpath into the wide belt of trees alongside the road and go all the way along it. At the far end cross Greenway Court Road to continue on the roadside path opposite. After passing a school playground join the pavement as it goes round a right-hand bend, then turn left onto a signposted footpath. Follow this between houses and across Culpeper Close.

    Go through a metal kissing gate beside a fieldgate and under a railway bridge into Hollingbourne Meadows7. Unless you want to detour off to the left and explore this large meadow, keep ahead along a broad grassy avenue lined with memorial trees, passing a grazing enclosure (Godfrey Field) on your right. At the end of the avenue keep ahead through a gap in a hedge, going across a plank bridge over a ditch into a wildflower meadow.

    Once again you could detour off to the left in this smaller meadow, but for a direct route keep ahead on a grassy path. This goes up a short slope and then curves round to the right-hand corner. Leave the meadow and turn left to go up the edge of a large field, with a hedge on your right. At the top of the slope bear left towards another hedge, where there is a small metal gate with a yellow footpath marker.

    This footpath will take you on a clockwise loop around Leeds Castle grounds, eventually returning on a second footpath 100m ahead. If you are cutting out this loop, therefore, take the broad grassy path ahead across a small meadow, bear right onto a farm track and go to §10 to complete the Curtailed Walk.

  15. Hollingbourne Meadows to Leeds Castle grounds (2¼ km)
  16. Turn left onto a footpath heading south-east through Coombe Wood and Warren Wood. Turn right onto Greenway Court Road and turn right again to go alongside the A20 for 500m, under HS1 and the M20. Shortly before a lane on the left (Broomfield Road) cross the busy main road and go across the lane into Leeds Castle grounds.

    Go through the metal gate onto a fenced path heading SE, between a hedge and a paddock. Later you pass a small wood, then go along the edge of a farm field. Where the hedge ends bear slightly right across a gap and continue with a wood on your left. At the end of the field veer left past an old stile onto a potentially muddy path through the wood. In about 250m the woodland path turns half-right, then back to the left before coming out onto a lane (Hospital Road).

    Turn right onto the lane. In 100m, shortly after passing an isolated house on the right, turn left onto a signposted footpath. Once again you follow a clear woodland path for about 350m, finally emerging in the corner of a field close to the high-speed railway (HS1) and the M20 motorway. Turn left and go alongside the wood to the next corner, then turn half-right across the field to a lane (Greenway Court Road). Turn right and then right again at its T-junction with the A20.

    You now have to endure 500m alongside this busy main road, passing under HS1 and the M20. Where the road bends right (and you have a clear view in both directions) cross the A20 with great care and continue on a grassy path in the verge. This soon rises and veers left, goes around the back of a golf tee and drops down to a lane (Broomfield Road). Cross the lane carefully and take the path opposite into the castle grounds.

  17. Leeds Castle grounds to Hollingbourne Meadows (3 km)
  18. Leeds Castle Veer left through woodland and turn right onto a broad tree-lined avenue, alongside an estate road. Continue alongside the castle moat and round to its gatehouse. Turn left and follow the tarmac drive south-west away from the castle. Where this comes out into parkland fork right and follow the right of way in a long sweeping curve to the right, eventually heading north-east. Continue on the footpath past a lake and through patches of woodland to return to the A20. Cross over and take a footpath through woodland and back across the M20 and HS1 on footbridges. Turn left along a field edge, follow the path down to the right and turn left onto a farm track along the edge of a small meadow.

    You should be especially careful in this section, where the directions follow rights of way. Leeds Castle Foundation charges for entry to its grounds and you are not entitled to stray from these public footpaths.

    Leeds Castle Go down a short flight of steps and turn left in front of a golf green at the bottom. Follow a short path through some trees, coming out at the end of a broad tree-lined avenue. Turn right to go along this avenue, heading W with an estate road on your left; later you need to take care where the road crosses a golf fairway. You soon have a fine view of the Maiden's Tower and other castle buildings ahead on your right, across a moat.

    Where the road forks keep ahead, soon passing a restaurant up on your left. At its entrance turn right to stay alongside the moat, now with a lake (the Great Water) on your left. In front of the castle gatehouse follow the drive round to the left. Ignore paths off to the right and continue past the end of the lake, gently uphill.

    Shortly after the drive bends slightly to the left veer right through a wooden gate onto a broad grassy path across a meadow, staying fairly close to the drive (which itself swings round to the right). In 250m the path almost meets the road but turns slightly right up a slope. On the brow of the hill you come to a path junction and turn right onto another broad grassy path, now heading N.

    The path merges with another from the left and continues alongside a fence. At the end bear right again to go down a slope, passing to the left of a clump of trees. Go out through a kissing gate and bear left past a large cedar tree onto a path alongside a lake, with a view of the castle beyond it, 400m away.

    You cross the outflow from the lake and come to a path junction. Ignore the “Exit” sign and keep ahead up a slope between rhododendrons. At the top go straight across an estate road and past a plantation of young trees. The path soon comes out onto another part of the golf course; once again you need to take care as you continue across a couple of fairways.

    Observe the warning notices as golfers on the second fairway are playing over the brow of a hill from the left and might not be able to see walkers on the public footpath.

    On the far side go back into the trees and follow a short woodland path to the edge of the grounds. Go out through an old kissing gate onto a grass verge in front of the A20. Unless you want to visit the Park Gate Inn (150m down the main road to the right), turn left onto the grass verge and cross this busy main road with great care when you have a clear view in both directions. On the other side of the road continue on a tarmac path, then turn right onto a signposted footpath heading NE along the edge of a wood.

    Follow this potentially overgrown path as it zig-zags left and right to cross both the M20 and HS1 on footbridges. At the end go over a stile and turn left along a field edge. Cross another stile and turn half-right to go down the side of a small field. At the bottom go over a third stile and along a narrow overgrown path between a wooden fence and a hedge, which comes out into a small meadow (100m away from your outward route). Turn left onto a farm track along the edge of the meadow.

  19. Hollingbourne Meadows to Hollingbourne Station (1 km)
  20. Follow the farm track across a stream, past farm buildings and along a driveway into Eyhorne Street, coming out by the Windmill with the Sugar Loaves pub 100m off to the right. Take the footpath off the north side of the village street, between the two pubs. At the end of the fenced path turn half-left to go across two fields. Cross a farm track and retrace your outward route down a short path to the station.

    Follow the farm track down a slope and round to the right in front of farm buildings. Go through a gate and pass to the right of a barn, then keep right to continue on a driveway. After passing the Village Hall and its car park you come to the beer garden for the Windmill, the first of two possible refreshment places in Eyhorne Street; the Sugar Loaves pub is about 100m along the street to the right (which is also the continuation of the walk).

    To complete the walk take a signposted footpath on the north side of the village street, between the two pubs (nearer the Sugar Loaves and opposite the Village Shop). Keep right to continue on a fenced path along the side of Magnolia House.

    At the end go over a stile into the corner of a field and turn half-left, aiming for a gap in the hedge 75m away (not a gap in the opposite field corner). Go through the hedge and bear slightly right up a larger field, passing to the right of an isolated tree. At the top cross a farm track via a couple of awkward stiles and retrace your outward route down a narrow path to the station. Platform 1 on the near side is for trains to London.

Walk Notes

  1. Pilgrims Way is a fanciful name which was added to OS maps by a 19thC surveyor. There is no real evidence that this 192 km route between Winchester and Canterbury was used by medieval pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas Becket, but the legend was embellished by Hilaire Belloc and other writers. Much of the route actually follows an ancient trackway on the southern slopes of the North Downs, linking the narrowest part of the English Channel to the sacred sites of Stonehenge and Avebury.
  2. The North Downs Way runs for 246 km along the length of the North Downs (with two sections at its eastern end), from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent.
  3. The Hucking Estate was bought by the Woodland Trust in 1997. They have gradually been reversing the changes to the landscape brought about by modern farming practices, restoring large areas of woodland and chalk grassland.
  4. The Shepherd, The Living Log, The Tranchet Axe and The Wild Boar Family were designed and carved in 2012 by two local artists, Nick Speakman and Rob Dyer. They were commissioned by the Woodland Trust to illustrate the Hucking Estate's habitat and heritage.
  5. St Margaret, Hucking dates from the 12thC, but it was substantially rebuilt in 1878 and there are few traces of the medieval church.
  6. Hollingbourne is made up of three settlements, with the main part (around the church) being called Upper Street to distinguish it from Eyhorne Street (near the station) and Broad Street (on Pilgrims Way). The village is a conservation area and contains many historic properties.
  7. Hollingbourne Meadows were bought by a local trust in 2004 to protect the village from “inappropriate or insensitive use”. A large area to the east of Eyhorne Street is managed as a wildlife haven with broad grassy paths to encourage use by walkers.

» Last updated: April 25, 2018

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