Hollingbourne Circular via Thurnham walk

Views from the North Downs ridge on the way out, returning across farm fields and finishing with a circuit through the grounds of Leeds Castle


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
Sat, 15-Jul-17 15

Hollingbourne via Thurnham - the North Downs and a castle or two

SWC walk 221 - Hollingbourne Circular via Thurnham
Length: 16.5km (10.3 miles) to 21km (13 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10

9.22 train from Victoria (9.39 Bromley South) to Hollingbourne, arriving 10.28.

Buy a day return to Hollingbourne. Be aware that Victoria may be busy if the forecast is sunny: allow extra time to buy your ticket or (ideally) buy in advance.

Walk directions are here.

Picking walks is a bit challenging at the moment, what with industrial action on Southern and major engineering works (which will last the rest of the summer) on South West Trains.... But we can turn this to our advantage by scouring the walks database for some neglected gems. This one appears not to have had an outing since summer 2015.

The main walk takes you up onto the downs and across fields and past some castle ruins to a lunch pub, the Black Horse, in the village of Thurnham. It is supposedly a "large free house" (though bring some money just in case...) but as it is the only lunch option it might not be a bad idea to call it from the start of the walk to check it is able to cater for you.

Otherwise, a short cut allows you to loop back to Eythorne Street, which has two other pubs. Here you are actually a short walk from Hollingbourne station. So on either the main or short option you could end the walk here if you wish, cutting 4.3km (2.6 miles) off its length.

The rest of the walk consists of a loop around Leeds Castle. Describing itself as "the loveliest castle in the world", this is well fortified against the rest of the world by the encircling M20, A20 and high speed railway line to the Channel Tunnel. You have to pass all these barriers (via footbridges etc) but your reward is a very scenic walk through the castle grounds on public footpaths. You must not deviate from these unless you pay the £24 castle entrance fee but I have dim recollections of a tea kiosk that was in close proximity to one of the paths. (No inducement to trespass is intended by that last sentence..... ).

Otherwise tea is back at one of the pubs in Eythorne. From there it is a short walk up to Hollingbourne station, from where trains go back at 59 past the hour. T=3.221
As told by someone on today's Whitstable walk...
15 (roughly) and a dog, which caused some consternation with some walkers, many of which did not have directions with them. A couple of difficult to negotiate diversions after lunch meant that Leeds Castle was never passed by this particular walker.
Sun, 30-Aug-15 7

Sunday walk 2

Hollingbourne Circular via Thurnham, SWC Walk 221
13 miles (21 km) including Leeds Castle loop or 10.4 miles (16.75) km without loop
Theres another short (10.3 ml) option that misses out the lunch pub but does the Leeds loop.
Toughness 7/10

Up the North Downs and along the North Downs Way. Through open downland and woods, undulating across sunken lanes and hollows. Past a ruined medieval castle then down to lunch in Thurnham. The return route through fields below the downs is easier, assuming the ground is firm. At Eyhorne Street, the tea stop, you have a choice.
The Main walk (M) continues on a loop that takes you through the grounds of Leeds Castle on a public footpath. Although the castle itself is spectacular, this section also has stretches the author describes as "dreary".
The Curtailed walk (b) cuts out Leeds Castle and makes a bee-line for Hollingbourne Station.
Get the 9:36 from Victoria to Canterbury West, arriving Hollingbourne at 10:49
Return trains to Victoria at xx:07. Get a return to Hollingbourne.
The suggested stop is the Black Horse in Thurnham 01622 737185.
Tea There are two pubs in Eyhorne Street
The upmarket Windmill 01622 889000
The more traditional Sugar Loaves 01622 880220
These would also be your lunch choices if you were to do the short walk (a) omitting Thurnham.
Leeds Castle
Describes itself as " the loveliest castle in the world". Very old, built by someone called Norman. Keep to the public footpath through the grounds.
A proper visit to Leeds Castle will knock you back £24 but the ticket is valid for a year..... and where else can you visit a dog collar museum?
Walk Directions here
Print the whole document to keep your options open
Click the option you prefer if you've decided on one route.
Main Walk (M) all the way round including the castle.
Short walk (a) misses Thurnham, has lunch at the tea stop, then goes on to the castle.
Curtailed Walk (b) goes all the way round except the the castle bit.
The immortal words “the return route should be easier assuming the ground is firm” were penned before this week’s monsoons, and that section may not be as firm as expected. If so, you do have the Pilgrims Way, slightly to the north of the walk route. You could stay on it all the way from the lunch pub, though Broadstreet, to Hollingbourne. Or you could follow the proper walk and keep it in mind as an alternative if the going gets tough. There are several connecting paths. See map http://www.walkingclub.org.uk/book 3/walk 221/map.shtml . Watch out for cars.
Great walk! Beautiful and varied scenery. Thoughtful planning by covering the slopes before lunch and a flatter route after a wonderful lunch at Black Horse. Recommend doing the full walk to Leeds Castle especially if you haven't been.
7 plus 2 independents who were startled to find the Saturday Walkers Club out on a Sunday. They gave us the slip at lunchtime. Most of the footpaths across the farm fields were impeccably marked out but not the last 1km before the railway crossing, causing the over confident author to veer off course. Wading through the knee high crops would have been tough in the rain but thankfully it was cloudy but dry. Bit of a rush to catch the 18:07.
Sat, 14-Mar-15 7 Hollingbourne Circular (long walk, via Thurnham)
Sat, 09-Aug-14 25 Hollingbourne Circular