Knockholt to Otford walk

A moderately strenuous stroll in the North Downs, taking in the pretty village of Shoreham


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 Option Post # Weather
Sat, 10-Dec-22 Saturday walk - Knockholt to Otford - A fierce little terrier of a walk 14 Sunny and frosty
Sat, 28-Dec-19 Saturday walk - Knockholt to Otford, with possible Shoreham loop afternoon 17 cloudy but mild
Sat, 22-Dec-18 Saturday walk - Knockholt to Otford - a short but vigorous walk in the North Downs 28 A lovely sunny day
Sat, 06-Jan-18 Saturday Walk - Knockholt to Otford 26 grey but no rain
Tue, 27-Dec-16 Bank Holiday Walk - A short but energetic walk in Kent 19 lovely sunshine
Sun, 04-Jan-15 Knockholt to Otford 8
Sun, 29-Dec-13 Knockholt to Otford 7
Sun, 31-Mar-13 Knockholt to Otford 10
Sat, 10-Nov-12 Knockholt to Otford
Sun, 27-Nov-11 Knockholt to Otford
Sat, 08-Jan-11 Knockholt to Otford
Sat, 05-Dec-09 Knockholt to Otford
Sun, 09-Nov-08 Knockholt to Otford
Sat, 16-Feb-08 Knockholt to Otford
Length: 12.9km (8 miles), with possible extensions to 15.9 km (9.9 miles) or circa 20km (12.4 miles)
10.04 train from Charing Cross (10.07 Waterloo East, 10.13 London Bridge) to Knockholt, arr 10.49
If you just miss this, catch the 10.15 Hastings train from Charing Cross (10.18 Waterloo East, 10.24 London Bridge) to Orpington, arriving 10.39, and pick up the above train at 10.43)
For walk directions click here, for GPX click here and for a map of the route click here. T=swc.37
Train tickets
Knockholt is in zone 6 so you can use Oyster/contactless to there (don't forget to touch out, though, as there are no barriers). If you have a pass covering zone six, you only then need to buy a single from Otford to Swanley (if going to Blackfriars/Victoria) or Knockholt (if going via Sevenoaks).
If you don't have zone six coverage, either buy a single from Otford to London Terminals (I think this is valid via Sevenoaks, if you decide to come back by that route, but check...) or a day return to Sevenoaks which is the same price as an Otford return and valid for all the return routes mentioned.
Why this walk?
The 12th of December marks the earliest sunset of the year (see the last section of this page for an explanation of why this is not the same as the shortest day), so what better way to mark it than with this little gem, a fierce little terrier of a walk, which approaches the familiar Shoreham-Otford walking territory from an unfamiliar angle and makes up for its diminutive length with a fair quotient of hills, including big climbs mid morning and just after lunch.
On the descent to Shoreham and Otford the chalk paths can be a bit slippery, so do take care here.
Lunch and tea
Lunch is at one of the pubs in Shoreham - the King's Head is often favoured, but the George Inn has also reopened as the Samuel Palmer. For tea, the Hospices of Hope tea room (at the back of the shop) closes at 4pm, but the Pond View Cafe and Sally's Cake Emporium supposedly stay open till 4.30pm. The Bull or the Woodman are pub options
Extending the walk
The Shoreham Circular walk has a number of onward options from Otford in its walk directions (GPX, map)
- a short circuit of about 1km around the attractions of Otford (paragraph 37: section H in the walk directions)
- a short easy walk back to Shoreham of 3km (1.8 miles) (paragraph 57: section K in the walk directions)
- a 7km (4.3 mile) circuit to Shoreham including another steep hill climb (paragraph 37: sections H, I and J in the walk directions)
Trains back to London
Trains back from Otford are at 26 and 56 past to Victoria (40 mins) and 29 and 59 to Blackfriars (1 hour, but or 52 minutes to Victoria if you change at Bromley South). Or you can get a 18 or 48 minute past train to Sevenoaks and change there for a train to London Bridge/Charing Cross (36 minutes in all)

Trains back from Shoreham are at 02 and 32 past to Blackfriars (57 minutes, or 49 minutes to Victoria if you change at Bromley South). Or you can get a 15 or 45 minute past train to Sevenoaks and change there for a train to London Bridge/Charing Cross (39 minutes in all)
  • 10-Dec-22

    What a glorious day. Sunny and frosty . A day to make you think winter is not so bad after all…

    14 assembled at Knockholt station. Contrary to my fears, no new housing construction has affected the start of this walk. Once we had crossed a busy road or two and navigated a tricky part-broken stile, made worse by slippery frost, we were out in the woods in the slow slanting sunshine.

    Paths might have been gloopy here - had the mud not been frozen solid. The trees were bare, with just some oaks still left golden (they can hang onto leaves well into winter) and dribs and drabs on field maple and hazel.

    After a steep hill climb and descent into Shoreham, eight of us decided to try the Crown for a change. They were super friendly and found us a secluded table in a side bar. It was just a pity the room was largely unheated - in contrast to the cosy saloons with log fires next door. The menu was fairly basic, but the dishes on the whole nice.

    In the afternoon the sun played hide and seek - often hidden by tree or hill, but occasionally popping us to bathe us in gold. In places there was a permafrost, where the sun had not reached all day - cold, mysterious places, like something in a fairy tale.

    The group had split up by this time. If anyone did any of the suggested extensions or had interesting tea experiences, do file a separate report. The group of five I was in descended to Otford just as the last dregs of gold were draining from the western horizon. Four of us went for puds and drinks by the fire in the Bull, and had a lovely walk in the starlit dark to the station. We got the 6.18 to Sevenoaks and from there to London enjoyed Southeastern first class seats on their first day of declassification.

  • 10-Dec-22

    A lovely day out with some wintery scenes some stiff climbs to keep our body temperatures up. Four of us had a picnic in the churchyard at Shoreham where the lack of wind and bright sunshine kept us warm enough. Later on we passed through a field of frisky bull calfs before the hardest climb of the day near Magpie Bottom.

    We arrived at Otford in time for tea and cake at the Hospices of Hope and caught the 15.56 back to Victoria.

Length: 12.9km (8 miles) - with options of 14.6km (9 miles) or 15.8km (9.8 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10: two big hill climbs

10.04 train from Charing Cross (10.07 Waterloo East, 10.13 London Bridge) to Knockholt, arriving 10.49

If you just miss this train, get the 10.15 Hastings service from Charing Cross (10.18 Waterloo East, 10.24 London Bridge) and change at Orpington (arrive 10.39, depart 10.49) onto the above train.

Buy a day return to Sevenoaks, which is valid for both outward and return journeys (and is the same price as a day return to Otford): Knockholt is in LT zone 6

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here. For a map of the route click here.

This little walk seems to be too short to get an outing at other times of the year, but it makes a good post-Christmas outing with a couple of big hill climbs to help you work off those excess mince pies.

I particularly like the morning (5.3km/3.3 miles), which involves an interesting expedition in the woods, and then a steep climb up and over a ridge to descend into Shoreham, whose four pubs should provide you with sufficient lunch stops.

After lunch the main walk (7.6km/4.7 miles) climbs up onto the downs, passing through the pretty valley of Magpie Bottom, to come down into Otford, where, if you can resist the temptation to get the train straightaway, the Hospices of Hope shop, with its tea room, should be open till 5pm, half an hour longer than the Pond View Cafe. (There are also pubs.)

ALTERNATIVE AFTERNOON: For a slightly longer afternoon, you could try one of the loops of the Shoreham Circular walk (SWC walk 289): walk directions here, GPX here, map here:

- The Short walk (north) is 10.5km (6.5 miles), which would make a total walk from Knockholt of 15.8km (9.8 miles). Midway this passes the Lullingstone Cafe, open till 4pm

- The Short walk (south) is 9.3km (5.7 miles), making a total walk from Knockholt of 14.6km (9 miles). Midway this passes the Otford tea options mentioned above. (Don't get lazy after tea and forget to finish the walk, however...)

Trains back from Otford are at 29 and 59 (Thameslink stopping service - 1 hour to Blackfriars or 52 minutes to Victoria with a change at Bromley South), or at 20 and 46 past to Victoria (34 or 38 minutes).

Trains back from Shoreham are at 02 and 32 (Thameslink stopping service - 57 minutes to Blackfriars or 49 minutes to Victoria with a change in Bromley South).

  • 28-Dec-19

    17 , I guess. 16 at the start (including two newbies, who we hope had a good day) and one met mid afternoon going the other way. She had apparently missed the outward train and decided to do the Otford Circular instead, so I think that counts.

    It was cloudy but mild . There was mud, inevitably, but the thin slippery stuff over chalk was more of a problem than the deep gloopy stuff, producing one or two falls. To my surprise everyone seemed happy enough to do the main walk, so the Shoreham loops were not needed. We finished at dusk, so today at least 8 miles was enough.

    After our first big climb of the day we got to Shoreham at 12.30 or so, early enough to squeeze into the King’s Arms, which otherwise had lots of reserved tables. Most ate here, including some who had tried the George and been told they would not even be allowed to order for 45 minutes. The food at the King’s Arms might not qualify for a Michelin star, but its staff served us quickly, it let us rearrange the furniture without complaint, and its portions were large, so it gets three stars in my book.

    Arriving in Otford at 4pm a whole bunch of us had an earnest intent to go to the Hospices of Hope for tea, but one walker was already ensconced on the sofa at the Pond View Cafe and it seemed rude not to join him. Some of us then walked in the dark via the churchyard to the station to get trains at around 5pm.

Length: 12.9km (8 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10 - two steep hill climbs

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

If you miss the above, get the 10.15 from Charing Cross (10.18 Waterloo East, 10.24 London Bridge) to Orpington and change there for the above train, but this is a tight connection - arriving 10.39, departing 10.43.)

Buy a day return to Sevenoaks which is the same price as a day return to Otford and valid for both outward and return legs of the journey. Since Knockholt is in LT zone six, you could instead use Oyster to it (don't forget to tap out, though - easy to do at this rural station), but on the way back you need to buy a single from Otford. You could buy this just as far as Swanley, get out there, tap in using Oyster and get the next train into London, but this seems a bit of a faff....

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

This is a brisk short walk in the North Downs, with two good hill climbs to help make room for some mince pies, but not too long so you can get back to town early if you wish to do your last minute Christmas shopping.

Lunch in in Shoreham, Kent, where most walkers seem to rush to the Kings Head and its fairly basic food: but more upmarket options are available in the shape of the Two Brewers and the Crown. It is possible if you are feeling ultra lazy to get the train back from Shoreham, but then you will only have walked 5.3km (3.3 miles).

After lunch it is over the hills to Otford, dreaming as you pass through Magpie Bottom of summer butterflies and downland flowers. The Hospices of Hope is a nice place for tea in Otford.

Trains back are at 26 and 56 to Victoria, taking 42 minutes, or 29 and 59 to Blackfriars, taking an hour. (All these services stop at Swanley. The Blackfriars trains also stop at Shoreham at 02 and 32 past.) You can also get 18 and 48 trains in the other direction from Otford to Sevenoaks and get fast trains from there to London Bridge and Charing Cross (46 minutes in all). T=3.37
  • Anonymous

    The George in Shoreham on the other side of the river near the church also does a good ginger beer...

  • 22-Dec-18

    28 on this walk, including two who joined us during the morning having started walking from other places. A lovely sunny day at last, perfect for walking. Pleasant scenery with two big hill climbs to get the blood pumping.

    For lunch we seem to have spread out among three of the four pubs in Shoreham. The Crown received good reports and I believe some went to the George. The King’s Arms was actually nearly fully booked but was nearly empty when we arrived at midday and found space for five of us.

    Leaving lunch about 1pm it looked as if we might finish the walk too early but in fact the light was fading by the time we got to Otford. Some went to the Pond Cafe and some to the Hospices of Hope tea room (nice Christmas cake and scones).

    Several set off at dusk to walk to Sevenoaks and two of us headed off towards Shoreham, where we stood in the middle of the solar system and watched a dramatic full moon rise over the ridge. It somewhat played cat and mouse with us as we continued northwards but eventually we got up onto the ridge and had a nice moonlit walk along back lanes before descending to Otford again, just catching the 18.59 Thameslink train for a fascinating tour of obscure south east London stations. (Ravensbourne?)

  • 23-Dec-18

    Re obscure stations in south east London: They are not so obscure for those for whom this line is the local (albeit slow) one. Ravensbourne is the name of the nearby river that flows into the Thames at Deptford. You can follow its upper reaches all the way to its source next Saturday on the pretty Hayes Circular walk. Also, between the stations Ravensbourne and Beckenham Hill is Beckenham Place Park, a large expanse of green space in south east London with a beautiful Grand House and some ancient woodland. Lewisham Council is currently building a lake at the very location of the original lake according to the 19th century design of the park's architect. It is scheduled to open in 2019 and will provide another option for a wild freshwater swim in London. Maybe a new SWC summer evening walk through this park is called for ...

  • Anonymous

    The 4 of us who walked on to Sevenoaks under moonlight came across a small outdoor community gathering, offering mulled wine and home made mince pies in return for a donation to the local residents association fund. The smell of the spiced wine was just too good to pass by so we joined them for a quick tipple before carefully making our slightly merry way along the lakeside path into town. There was definitely brandy in that mulled wine.

Knockholt to Otford
Length: 7.9 miles (12.5km) (or 3.6 miles to end at Shoreham station)
Difficulty: 7 out of 10 (two steep hill climbs: otherwise not over-hilly)

A relatively low cost option for the New year, with Knockholt in zone 6.
This walk approaches the familiar walking territory around Shoreham and Otford in Kent from an unfamiliar angle, passing at first over wooded hills, then climbing up and over a steep ridge to get down to Shoreham.
In the afternoon the route largely reverses the morning of the Otford Circular walk (Book 1, walk 43 on this website), though with one twist that introduces the lovely hidden valley of Magpie Bottom, now a nature reserve, with fine downland flowers and butterflies in the summer.
In winter the walk is not over-afflicted with mud, but the descents into Shoreham and Otford can be a bit slippery. Make sure you have the December 2016 instructions.
Travel: 1005 Sevenoaks train from Charing Cross (1012 London Bridge) arrives 1049. Fastest returns are xx:00 and xx:32 direct to Victoria plus trains at xx:07 and xx:37 via Sevenoaks to Blackfriars or Charing Cross (you need to check what the options are for each train). Tickets are a return to Sevenoaks, but Knockholt is in zone 6, so a single from Otford to zone 6 (St Mary Cray) is an option for some.
Lunch is at Shoreham after 3.2 miles (5.1km), with a number of options.
Tea is 400 metres beyond the station for several choices in Otford itself.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    So am I

  • 05-Jan-18

    I'm starting from Otford and will aim to meet the group at lunchtime in Shoreham

  • Anonymous

    23 off of the train at Knockholt and then 3 who started from Otford and met us in Shoreham so 26 on the walk in total

    This was truly the muddiest day of 2018 - it was unbelievable - this was one tough mudder -anyone would think that we were mud skippers ( alright that is enough about mud - ed )

    Other than the mud it was a lovely day though somewhat grey but no rain thankfully and cold.

    It was great to see a lot of the old faces and catch up on what had happened over the Christmas / New Year holidays for everybody. And all the talk was about such things and I didn’t hear any deep and meaningfull discussions throughout the day - we can start them again soon. Possibly this was because the walk was hard work with all the steep ups and downs ( though stepped in many places ) and continual slipperiness causing a lot of panting and phewing.

    The pubs in Shoreham shared us out amongst themselves and 9 of the group ate at the Kings Arms who looked after us wonderfully ( though it was noticed that no Vegan option was to be had ) and I think that the food was well received by all and at a very reasonable price.

    After lunch we were off out into the woods and fields and aiming to prove the listing note ‘ in winter the walk is not over-afflicted with mud ‘ was far from the truth and still inaccurate and we succeeded with flying colours ( Enough Already )

    Some of the chat in the afternoon was spent reminiscing about the copious amounts of mulled wine that had been enjoyed pre Christmas and that seems to have whetted our appetite for more so some of us finished in Otford with an alcoholic beverage ( or 2 ) and off course there were a few people that we saw in the cafe, presumably having tea and calories.

    So an uneventful but very enjoyable day though one of the crew took a tumble in the road and bloodied his nose - I am sure we all wish him well and for no long lasting effects - he did not seem unduly perturbed during the day after the fall.

    I hope to see you all again soon

    Miss Chief

SWC Walk 37 - Knockholt to Otford
Length: 12.5 km (7.9 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10

9.58 train from Victoria (10.07 Denmark Hill, 10.15 Lewisham, other stops in SE London, 10.38 Orpington) to Knockholt, arriving 10.44.

Best ticket: the simplest option if you don't have a season ticket or Freedom Pass is to buy a day return to Sevenoaks - £7.75 with a Network Card. This will cover you for both outward and return journeys (and is the same price as a day return to Otford, which does not cover the outward journey).

However, Knockholt is in zone 6, so you can use Oyster or contactless to get there - but don't forget to tap out. You would then need to buy a ticket to Swanley, St Mary Cray or Bromley South on the way back, change trains (not such a mad idea: these stations have frequent services), and tap in with Oyster for the rest of your journey.

For walk directions click here.

This is a little terrier of a walk, the perfect brisk winter outing. It may not be long, but it has two steep hill climbs (one in the morning, the other after lunch) to work off all those mince pies and covers some beautiful hilly territory after a slightly ho-hum start from Knockholt. Bits of the walk will be familiar to you from other SWC walks in the area, but it also has big chunks that are all its own.

Lunch is in Shoreham, which has at least three pubs, one of which hopefully will be able to squeeze us in. Tea in Otford requires a 500 metre walk down a road, which you can skip if you want (boo hiss if you do, though).

The fastest trains back from Otford are the 00, 32, 47 past to Victoria, though the 07 and 37 trains to Blackfriars may have better connections for some. All trains stop at Bromley South.
  • Maria

    Can I meet you directly at Knockholt at 10:44? I am a but uniformed since this is my first walk.

  • 22-Dec-16

    Maria, yes indeed: either get the specified train, or if you come by other means, meet us at Knockholt station at 10.44. It is a fairly small and isolated station so the group will be obvious.

    You are very welcome. It is a nice walk to start on.

  • 22-Dec-16

    Incidentally, in case you have not seen it, this walk explains how the walks work

  • 27-Dec-16

    19 on this walk on a day of lovely sunshine . A happy cheerful group and I think all enjoyed the walk, which though short has some steep hills and fine views to excite the leg muscles and spirit respectively. The main phalanx got to The King's Head a little after midday and were served ultra quick. Two of us in the rear decided to try the Two Brewers which is more upmarket but not that much more expensive - a nice lunch option. It was not that slow serving either but eating there meant we did not catch the main group till tea, which most/all took in the cafe by the pond (leaving copious amounts of mud on its floor in the process: "Well, at least it was not at 9am," said a staff member when I apologised on your behalf). There was then a big rush for a train circa 4pm, but two of us had an atmospheric walk to Sevenoaks in the crepuscular gloom.