Knockholt Circular walk

An enjoyable day out in the country within zone 6, thanks to those who campaigned for and legislated the Green Belt policy.


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, 23-Apr-22 Saturday Walk - Knockholt Circular 28 windy sun and cloud
Sat, 19-Dec-20 Knockholt Circular 20 fairly sunny and always dry
Sat, 27-Apr-19 Saturday walk - Knockholt Circular - first ever outing in bluebell time 15 cool grey cloud
Sun, 06-May-18 Sunday Walk: Knockholt Circular: 9 hot and sunny
Sun, 07-May-17 Sunday Walk: Knockholt. Who's there? Knockholt Circular! 8 cloudy most of the day sunny late afternoon
Wed, 22-Feb-17 Wednesday Walk - Knockholt Circular 20 drizzle with increasing showers
Sun, 31-Aug-14 Knockholt Circular 7
Sun, 27-Apr-14 Knockholt Circular 7
Sun, 14-Apr-13 Knockholt Circular 16
Sat, 12-May-12 Knockholt Circular
Sun, 31-Jul-11 Knockholt Circular
Wed, 16-Mar-11 Knockholt Circular
Sat, 04-Sep-10 Knockholt Circular
Sun, 15-Nov-09 Knockholt Circular
Sat, 28-Mar-09 Knockholt Circular
Sat, 06-Sep-08 Knockholt Circular
Sun, 20-Apr-08 Knockholt Circular
Sun, 07-Oct-07 Knockholt Circular
Sat, 23-Jun-07 Knockholt Circular
Wed, 21-Feb-07 Knockholt Circular
Sat, 23-Apr-22
Saturday Walk - Knockholt Circular
Knockholt Circular
Length: 18.5km (11.5 miles) 5 out of 10
I'm reliably informed (from a previous posting), that this walk has bluebells. It is also in Zone 6, so makes for an easy journey.
Trains: Get the 1004 Sevenoaks train from Charing Cross (Waterloo East 1007, London Bridge 1013) arriving 1049. Return trains at xx13 and xx43.
Lunch: In Downe (7.7km from the start) The Queens Head (01689 852145). Food served all day is the suggested lunch stop. Also The George & Dragon (01689 889030). Food served noon-8.30pm
Tea: Arthur's Coffee Shop Coolings Nurseries, closes 4.30pm Located 2.6km from the end of the walk.

The Cock Inn Shoreham Lane, Halstead, Located 2km from the end of the walk 600 metres off route. The Rose and Crown Otford Lane, Halstead, 600 metres off route

  • 23-Apr-22

    Could someone please update the notes for this walk which were last walk checked in 2017 and the print font is so small it’s unreadable without a magnifying glass. These walk notes are condensed onto 5 pages whilst other walks stretch to 17 pages windows far too much information. We need clear larger print please!!

  • 23-Apr-22

    28 on this walk. The group quickly split into two parts, one consisting of people who wanted to stop and enjoy the bluebells (me) and the other those who sailed through the bluebell woods with barely a sideways glance (everyone else).

    The following paragraph will therefore be of interest to nobody, but the bluebells were in great form, fully out or nearly so. Several new bluebell woods seemed to have appeared since I last did the walk: it is certainly adequately supplied with them.

    Every time I do a Knockholt walk, I am told one of the two pubs in Downe is absolutely to be preferred to the other. Last time it was the Queen’s Head. This time it was the George & Dragon. Its patio has been covered with a marquee, so as many of us as possible had to squeeze into the small remaining sunny section, where unfortunately one of the two tables was kaput. My food came almost as soon as I ordered it. Those who had arrived earlier waited longer. Well, I was happy.

    The weather, I should mention was windy sun and cloud : chilly in the wind or cloud, warmish in the sun. After lunch I went off piste to have a look at the Downe Bank nature reserve, and later took a short cut through Newyears Wood (awash with bluebells) and Birch Grove (an absolute sea of them - one of the best bluebell woods have seen). Beyond the latter I rejoined the walk route and found the group toiling up a hill. I told them of the wondrous floral spectacle just a few hundred metres away and was met with blank stares. (Incidentally, for balance, it later turned out I had missed a floral spectacle too: a field between Downe and Cudham that was thick with cowslips.)

    I now realised it was touch and go if we would get to Coolings Nursery tea room before it shut at 4.30pm. I shared my concern with others in the group, and was met with shrugs. One said “I can’t get excited about tea and cake”. So I sped up, picking up one fellow enthusiast on the way. We got to the tea room at about 4.15. Curiously about ten others in the group then also turned up, including the not bothered one. A couple of them did not get tea because they arrived too late.

    After tea we rushed for a particular train, only to slow down when we realised we would miss it, only to then arrive at the station not long after it had left so that we had a 20 minute wait for the next one. They are building new houses nearby. Let’s hope they also build a pub.

  • 24-Apr-22

    This walk hillier than I remember with lots and lots of stiles. But there were baby goats

  • 24-Apr-22

    This walk was hilly all day at least 6 out 10 and had a large number of dodgy stiles. The food service was very slow but the skate wings excellent when they arrived at the Queens Head where most of us sat in the sunny garden. Inside tables were scruffy and designed to watch the sports on TV. There is a restaurant section where tables can be booked and a cake shop next door. Only Mr Tiger could read the walk instructions as he had judiciously kept a pre 2017 copy in a larger font. Please arrange for printing in at least size 10 font without the italics otherwise no one is going to use our walk directions which is such a shame after all the hard work that goes into producing them. Nobody wants to wear reading glasses unnecessarily as you cannot see the wood for the trees and is a recipe for tripping over!!

  • 24-Apr-22

    Oh yes, I forgot the baby goats. Lots of baby sheep too. And a Spitfire flying parallel to another plane that was presumably filming it.

  • 24-Apr-22

    I don’t want to have to print out 17 pages but perhaps a different page format would help. There’s an awful lot of unused margin there.

  • 28-Apr-22

    As for below comment:

    "Could someone please update the notes for this walk which were last walk checked in 2017 and the print font is so small it’s unreadable without a magnifying glass. These walk notes are condensed onto 5 pages whilst other walks stretch to 17 pages windows far too much information. We need clear larger print please!!"

    There are 483 Day Walks on the website, the very most of them fully written up. Many of those have various options, so that they are basically several walks in one. There are also 53 Short Walks and 6 City Walks, mostly also fully written up. That's more than 500 text pdf's.

    Way more than 90% of those walks are maintained by just 6 people, 2 of which are also holding down day jobs 'on the side' to pay the bills; 5 of those 6 are also providing the majority of the walk posts every week.

    If any one of the other hundreds of people that consider themselves members of this club think that any of the SWC offerings is sub-par, can they please join the very orderly queue of people volunteering to do some of the work? Feel free to register your interest at saturdaywalkers at yahoo dot co dot uk at any time...

    Failing that, edits to texts can always be submitted as comments to the walk's webpage. That is what many of the non-club walkers do when they have walked our routes independently of the group walks. The walk author will then feed them into the text.

    And no: there is no need for double exclamation marks, Marion

  • 28-Apr-22

    or in other words: this club, like any others entirely living by and off the contributions of unpaid volunteers, is only as good as the contributions of those unpaid volunteers.

    not happy with the level of 'service' you are getting from the club? get involved!

  • 03-May-22

    Many thanks to Mike A for rejiging the font of this walk as requested. Now that the walk notes are readable and only stretch to 7 pages this is most helpful to those that like to read text and not rely on satnav running out of battery power.

Sat, 19-Dec-20
Knockholt Circular
Length: 18.5km (11.5 miles)
10.04 train from Charing Cross (10.07 Waterloo East, 10.13 London Bridge) to Knockholt, arriving 10.49 T=3.7
For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.
Best ticket: Oyster or contactless: don't forget to tap in/out at Knockholt, which is easy to do
Under tier rules we are still allowed to meet outside in groups of no more than six, and to travel within the boundaries of London. This walk starts from a very isolated rural station, which is nevertheless in zone six, and apart from a very short section (which could be avoided by the scrupulous, but which actually goes across a deserted golf course), takes place entirely within the boundaries of the London Borough of Bromley.
We must split into groups of six at the start, and you can expect no lunch facilities, unless the pubs in Downe or Cudham are doing takeaways. Coolings Garden Centre near the end may offer takeaway teas.
Trains back are at 13 and 43 past the hour
  • Anonymous

    Hello. If most of se England is now Tier 3, any reason why we shouldn't walk in bubbles in other Tier 3 territory? Just asking, not criticising. Cheers.

  • 18-Dec-20

    On the Ramblers site the rule for England is stated as follows:

    "Whether you're organising your own walk with friends and family, or joining a Ramblers group walk, the travel restrictions are the same: you should not travel to or from Tier 3 (Very High Alert) areas, including neighbouring Tier 3 areas, either to start your walk or as part of your walk."

    Assuming that's correct, Londoners should stick to walks inside the London boundary.

  • Anonymous

    Understand. Cheers.

  • Anonymous

    I don't know why the Ramblers say that. There's no law (as opposed to "guidance") preventing travel (assuming you haven't got Covid-19) and Tier 3 is one area.

  • Josefine

    Is anyone going on the Haslemere round walk today? And is travel from London’s to Haslemere allowed?

  • 19-Dec-20

    As it turned out, the last day before Tier Four. If you are reading this in the far future and don’t know what tier four is, lucky you... I did count how many came on this walk but forgot to write it down: around 20 . I was soon in a group of three and stayed with it all day, until around dusk we met two others. So social distancing complied with.

    A nice walk in pleasant scenery. Despite rain on the train down and the train home, it was fairly sunny and always dry while we were walking. Picnic lunch, natch. Coolings tea kiosk was shut by the time our little threesome got there: did others have better luck? Back in London, three of us joined the youth in cheerful Christmasy Hays Galleria and cracked a bottle of wine or two. One more defiant gesture against the gloom of this tiresome winter.

Sat, 27-Apr-19
Saturday walk - Knockholt Circular - first ever outing in bluebell time
Length: 18.5km (11.5 miles) T=3.7
Toughness: 5 out of 10

10.05 train from Charing Cross (10.08 Waterloo East, 10.14 London Bridge) to Knockholt, arriving 10.49.

If you miss the above train, get the 10.15 Charing Cross train (10.18 Waterloo East, 10.24 London Bridge) and change at Orpington (arrive 10.39, depart 10.43).

Knockholt is in zone 6, so you can use Oyster, contactless, etc: but don't forget to tap out and tap in at Knockholt - easy to do as it is a rural station with no ticket barriers.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here. For map click here.

This walk has not had a Saturday outing since 2012, and as far as I can see has never been done in bluebell time despite being listed on the Where to find Flowers page as having "several attractive small bluebell woods". This is also fertile territory for other kinds of floral and spring delights, since this is essentially the chalk downland of the North Downs. Just after lunch it passes Downe House, home of Charles Darwin, which can be visited.

For lunch you have a choice of two pubs in Downe - the George & Dragon or the Queen's Head, both 4.8 miles into the walk. Somewhat mysteriously the walk directions do not mention a further choice 1.6 miles further on, which is the Blacksmith's Arms in Cudham, which is only very slightly off the route and seems to do food all afternoon.

If this walk has one weakness, it is that its tea stop, the self-service Arthur's Restaurant in Coolings Garden Centre, shuts at the cruelly early hour of 4.30pm. It is 1.6 miles from the end of the walk, so 5.1 miles from Downe or 3.5 miles from Cudham. Otherwise one is reliant on one of two "locals" pubs nearby (don't ask if they do Earl Grey...).

There is a report that a section across the golf course at the start and end of the walk is being prepared for housing development, with the path across the site fenced.

Trains back from Knockholt go at 13 and 43 past. Don't forget to tap in!
  • Anonymous

    Hi Guys I did this walk back in January and yes the golf course has been sold for housing development. The lovely chest nut trees are gone. Fences everywhere but there is a path but rather restricted path. It was extremely muddy in winter due to the extensive digging etc. Still a very good walk for Boundary 6 with fair bit of hills to challenge you. Should have some good bluebell patches as I recall about 5 years when I did it in blue bell season. Did the Holmwood to Gomshall with Leith rhododenrous extension. Flowers still got a week to go before full bloom. Sorry Marcus I skip your Tring walk. Enjoy the Knockholt walk as I did.


    P/S Walker saw 2 types of violet common dog violet and wood violet.

  • 28-Apr-19

    I belatedly realised that the best ticket for this walk would have been a six zone travelcard purchased with a Network Card - £8.60 or so: a big discount on the £12.80 daily cap for zone 1 to 6 on Oyster. Oh well...

    14 assembled on the platform for this walk and one late starter caught us at lunch, so 15 in all. Odd spots of rain early on and a teensy bit of brightness in the early afternoon apart, the weather was cool grey cloud . A bit disappointing. Only one inert butterfly seen and birdsong was very muted: a big contrast to last weekend.

    The fenced bit across the now abandoned (yippee!) golf course was just a line of fence posts, which helpfully indicated the path. If there are indeed plans to build housing here, there is no sign of any progress being made. In truth more housing might cheer the rather nothing-y area around the station up. Any chance that the development could include a cafe open to 7pm, do you think?

    In Downe the George & Dragon had five frowning locals: the Queen’s Head was much more inviting and served nice food cheerfully. Its most famous regular (a former leader of UKIP) has not been seen for a while, apparently.

    Thus far we had had some nice-ish patches of bluebells and an encounter with three cheerful goats, plus two dogs who had a trick of throwing their toy over the fence for passers-by to throw back. But as the walk poster I worried that we might not get any big-hitting bluebell woods. But mid afternoon we came upon a stunner - just by Let’s Green. Two walkers did a short cut at this point.

    For the rest of us - well, OK, mainly for me - the big anxiety after this was whether we would get to tea in time, but we did, arriving at 4pm and managing to penetrate the vast and extravagantly well- stocked labyrinth that is Coolings Garden Centre to find its lovely self-service tea room. Nice cakes, big pots of tea. Then down to the station to get whatever train we got. Perhaps they could also add a pub to that housing development so the walking day does not have to end so abruptly.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the ticket advice, will be useful for future walks.

Sun, 06-May-18
Sunday Walk: Knockholt Circular:
SWC Walk 7, 20km 12.3 miles
Difficulty 5/10 (some say 6 or 7)
A pretty, rural walk teetering on the edge of zone 6. It has hilly bits and some good views. In spring, parts of this walk are good for wild flowers and there are bluebell woods. Shortly after lunch, you pass Down House, once home to Charles Darwin and now open to visitors.
Trains: Get the 9:55 Tonbridge train from Victoria ( Brixton 10:02, Herne Hill, 10:04, West Dulwixch 10:06) arriving Knockholt at 10:45.
Trains return at xx:47 and xx:17.
Get a return to Knockholt. It is within London Zone 6, so a 1-6 travelcard would do.
Lunch: The Queens Head, Downe (01689)852145 or the George and Dragon (01689) 889030 across the road.
Admission to Down House £11:80.
Tea: Arthur's at Coolings Garden Centre is almost on the route. It closes about 4.
A diversion to the Cock Inn (see text) is another possibility.
The station is about 45 mins from Coolings and 30 mins from the Cock Inn.
Walk Directions here.
  • Anonymous

    Ok thanks Mr M Tiger for your message. Just wondering since there's no booking system etc I may change my mind and do the Knockhold Circular. Are you doing this walk too?

    Pleas let me know as soon as you can, sorry this is SO late

  • 06-May-18

    Yes, and as often as you like!

    Our walk's don't have leaders, so the walk poster doesn't necessarily do the walk. As we don't do prior reservations, its pot luck how many turn up.

    Saturday's walks has 14, 16, 30 (a holiday) & 10

  • 18-May-18

    My extensive network of spies has notified me there were 9 (+ 1 woofer) on this walk. Some, apparently, were refugees from the hot and sunny conditions expected on the Deal-Dover walk.

Sun, 07-May-17
Sunday Walk: Knockholt. Who's there? Knockholt Circular!
Knockholt Circular: SWC Walk 7
20km 12.2 miles
Difficulty: 5/10
A pretty, rural walk, teetering on the edge of zone 6. Hilly bits, good views and, in spring, wild flowers and bluebell woods. Shortly after lunch, you pass Down House, once home to Charles Darwin. It is open to visitors (Admission £11:80).
Trains: Get the 10:06 Sevenoaks train from Charing Cross (10:13 London Bridge, 10:23 Lewisham, 10:29 Hither Green) arriving Knockholt at 11:00.
You can also get the 10:25 Hastings train and change onto the above at Orpington (platform 5) but the connection is a bit tight (arr 10:50, dep 10:54).
Trains return at xx:28 and xx:58. You can save 12 minutes by changing to a faster train at Orpington (platform 2). It is within London Zone 6, so a zones 1-6 travelcard would do. Otherwise, get a return to Knockholt.
Lunch: The Queens Head, Downe (01689)852145 or the George and Dragon (01689) 889030 across the road.
Tea: Arthur's at Coolings Garden Centre is almost on the route but closes early (4:15 on the dot).
A diversion to the Cock Inn in Halstead (see text) is another possibility.
To get to the station, allow 45 mins from Coolings and 30 mins from the Cock Inn.
Walk Directions here
  • Anonymous

    8 attended. Cloudy most of the day, sunny late afternoon.

  • Anonymous

    8 cloudy most of the day sunny late afternoon

Wed, 22-Feb-17
Wednesday Walk - Knockholt Circular
Length: 19.6 km (12.2 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 390m
Net Walking Time: 4 ½ - 5 hours
Toughness: 5 out of 10
Take the 10.06 Sevenoaks train from Charing Cross (W’loo East 10.09, LBG 10.14, Hither Green 10.24, …, Orpington 10.43), arrives Knockholt 10.49. [If you miss the 10.06, take the 10.15 Hastings train to Orpington and you have 3 minutes there to change trains…] Knockholt is within London Transport Zone 6, so a one-day off-peak Travelcard is an option.
Return trains are on xx.12 and xx.42.
Despite its starting point being within London Travelcard Zone 6, this is a completely rural walk, passing through a succession of lovely open fields, and through a number of woods. After lunch there is the opportunity to visit Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, the naturalist.

This walk has not been posted for 2 ½ years, and not been walk-checked for 6 years, we’ll take the opportunity…
Lunch is either at the The Queens Head (food to 16.00) or at The George & Dragon (food all day), both in Downe (8.1 km/5.0 mi).
For tea, it’s either Arthur's Coffee Shop & Restaurant in Rushmore Hill (2.9 km from the end, open to 16.45),
or The Rose and Crown in Halstead (2.5 km from the end, 500m off route and under new management, now with more emphasis on Real Ales apparently).
For walk directions, map, height profile, some photos, a video and gpx/kml files click here.t=swc.7
Next Week: Book 2 Walk 12 ab Guildford Circular with Hog's Back Start
  • 22-Feb-17

    20 on this walk including one late starter and one who parked somewhere and was with us at lunch and for a while after. There was a brief flicker of sun as we got off the train, but alas, it was not to be. Instead we had drizzle with increasing showers , the latter after lunch. On the plus side it was mild and really nothing like as muddy as it ought to have been.

    Springlike signs were there for the sharp-eyed and eared. I was almost certainly the only person to be excited by seeing dog's mercury shoots in the woods but a large flock of bleating and very pregnant ewes being led to the lambing shed promised happier times to come. Larks also sang along with song thrushes and one blackbird.

    The George and Dragon in Downe was surprised to get a dozen of us for lunch - "All I served yesterday was one cheese sandwich" the landlady was heard to say. But the kitchen still produced tasty food with decent despatch and at rock bottom prices. Some also tried the Queen's Head, though if its most famous local (one N Farage Esq) was there, I do not know.

    In the afternoon I got left behind and so took a short cut to tea. Five or six others penetrated the many zones of Cooling's Nursery to join me in its very nice cafe. Later some tried both the Cock Inn and the Rose and Crown in Halstead. Both are locals pubs, though not unfriendly. The R&C is a 1970s time warp but had good beer, the cognoscenti tell me. A nun at the next table seemed to be enjoying it too. The four of us who sampled its wares walked in the dark across the golf course to get the 18.43 train, the extraordinary glow of London on the horizon producing an effect a little like pale moonlight.