Knole Park & Kent's 'rolling, tidal landscape'
|Length||14.5km (9.0 miles), 4 hours 20 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, Knole House and meals, allow 9 hours.|
|Toughness||5 out of 10.|
|OS Maps||Explorer 147 or Landranger 188. Leigh, map reference TQ 546 462, is in Kent, 9km south of Sevenoaks.|
The route of this lovely walk is through what Laurie Lee described as the 'rolling, tidal landscape' of Kent.
The walk starts in the village of Leigh (pronounced 'Lie' from the Anglo-Saxon for 'forest clearing') with its many fine old buildings, goes through the churchyard and past the parkland of Hall Place, and carries on through a few too many potentially muddy fields and past many an oasthouse (the conically roofed buildings used for drying hops) to the church and pub in Underriver, the suggested lunchtime stop.
After lunch, it is sharply uphill to then follow the Greensand Way into magnificent Knole Park, passing the front entrance of Knole and leaving the park on a footpath to arrive in the centre of Sevenoaks.
You need to start this walk in good time if eating at the pub, as the bulk of it is before lunch.
|Walk Options||There are rare buses (two a day Monday–Saturdays) from the lunchtime pub in Underriver to Tonbridge Station, or take a taxi.|
Knole House, built in the fifteenth century (and so huge that it has a room for every day of the year), was visited by Elizabeth I in 1573, who granted it to Thomas Sackville. It remained in the Sackville family and was the childhood home of Vita Sackville-West, featuring in Virginia Woolf's Orlando. The house, with its tapestries, paintings and collection of seventeenth-century furniture, is open to visitors from mid-March to the end of October, Tuesday to Sunday (plus bank holiday Mondays and August Tuesdays) with last entry at 3.30 pm. Admission (2010) is £9.50. The garden is open on Tuesdays only. The house stands in a park of 1,000 acres. There is no charge for walking in the park and in any case the route described in the walk directions follows public rights of way.
Take the train nearest to 9.30am from London Bridge to Leigh Station. Journey time just under an hour. An alternative is to go from Charing Cross, changing at Tonbridge, time just over an hour. On winter Sundays there are no direct trains. There are frequent trains back from Sevenoaks, journey time 35 minutes to Charing Cross, or about an hour to Victoria. Buy a day return to Leigh (Kent).
If driving, there are frequent trains from Sevenoaks to Tonbridge where you change for the one stop to Leigh. Sevenoaks Station is closer to London and the M25. It has several large car parks (Mon-Fri: £6, Sat: £2, Sun: £1), but you can park near Leigh Station for free.
The White Rock pub (tel 01732 833 112), Underriver, some 9 km into the walk, serves food all day Saturday and Sunday, midday to 3.00 pm on weekdays. On Sundays you should book ahead for a table but bar snacks will generally be available. They also prefer to be phoned beforehand if a large group is coming to eat.
The Brewhouse Tearoom (tel 01732 450 608) has an entrance in the north wall of Knole House, without the need to pay an entrance fee. It has the same opening hours as Knole House (see above) and serves cream teas.
There are various options in Sevenoaks including Caffè Nero at 112 High Street (tel 01732 779 050) and Costa Coffee at 2 Blighs Rd (01732 462159).
No major changes. [Pre 2011 editions] Use the online edition - it avoids busy road crossings
Use the online version of the walk, if you have an old (pre 2011) edition of the book.
Help us! After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
-  From Leigh Station platform 2, exit down the tarmac path, your direction 285°, to the road and turn right. (If you have come via Tonbridge you will arrive on platform 1; go down its tarmac path to the road where you turn right and go under the railway bridge.)
- Continue on the road past the garage and the Fleur-de-Lis pub to the main road, B2027.
- Turn right and continue for 300 metres. Just before a bus shelter on your left and with a school on your right, cross the road to turn left northwards to the church on a tarmac lane. (Public toilets are available off the main road; follow the sign to the right.)
- Go through the gate into the churchyard. Follow the path to the right of the church and exit though the lych-gate.
- In 10 metres turn left, taking the footpath indicated with a yellow arrow, direction 345°, past the impressive gatehouse leading to Hall Place on your left and through a wooden fieldgate marked Porcupine House.
- In 80 metres go through a metal kissing gate and straight on with the field fence and ancient trees and parkland of Hall Place to your left. In 300 metres go though another metal kissing gate and straight on through a potentially muddy area, partially alleviated by some bricks.
- In 170 metres ignore the next metal kissing gate at the end of the field and fork right over a concrete bridge and stream, your direction 25°. After 100 metres continue on the path on the left hand side of a field, your direction 15°.
- In 260 metres go over a stile to pass through a copse and in 50 metres pass through a gap next to a collapsed stile and turn left down an earth lane, your direction 305°.
-  20 metres before the end of this lane, just before a cottage on your left, follow the low footpath sign to go half right northwards with a field fence on your right.
- In 40 metres this path enters the wood on a wide earth track. 10 metres into the wood, turn half right, following a footpath sign, up a wide path, your direction 345°. In 120 metres bend right with the path, your direction initially 35°, along a bridleway.
- In 200 metres exit the wood over a stile (a potentially muddy area) and go straight on, with the field edge and ditch on your left.
- In 120 metres cross a stream over a concrete bridge and go through a kissing gate to the left of a fieldgate (another possibly muddy area). Carry straight on, your direction 20°, with a stream tributary on your left and an oasthouse (marked as Lower Street Farm on the OS map) further off to your left.
- In 200 metres you come up towards a car road and through a kissing gate to the left of a fieldgate, which may be muddy. Go straight across the road and continue by a public footpath sign over a stile straight ahead, with a field boundary on your right down a large field.
- At the end of this field go over a stile to the right of a fieldgate, another potentially muddy spot, and continue on with the hedge now on your left, direction 345°.
- In 120 metres go over another stile to the right of a fieldgate and then go half right to cross the field diagonally, your direction 35°, towards a stile in the far right-hand corner, 10 metres beyond a pond on your right. Turn right on a car road, going east .
- Continue along the road for 500 metres to the road bridge over the A21 and cross it. Carry on until you come to a T-junction, where you turn left. Continue ahead for 500 metres, passing a house called Oak Trees on your left to reach the B245.
- Turn left and in 70 metres turn right on to Mill Lane.
-  In 180 metres when the road bends slightly to the left and opposite Meadow House, take the footpath to your right over a stile, your direction half left, 65°, aiming at wooden fencing visible in the distance. In 250 metres go over a wooden footbridge and stream.
- Continue ahead, your direction 70°. In 130 metres, go straight on across the field to a stile visible to the right of a fieldgate. In 120 metres, cross this stile, a potentially muddy area, and turn half left to go diagonally across the field.
- In 250 metres exit this field by its far left corner (near the left-hand edge of the copse) over a stile hidden behind trees on your right. Continue on, your direction 70°, heading well to the left of houses visible ahead (with difficulty in summer), across a potentially muddy field. Leave the field over a stile with a yellow arrow about two-thirds down the side you are walking along.
- In 10 metres go over a wooden bridge and through a metal kissing gate to revert to your previous direction, 70°, following the right hand edge of the field. Turn left at the corner and after 100 metres leave the field by a metal kissing gate close to a track.
- Cross the track and turn left. After 10 metres turn right towards a stile marked by a yellow arrow. Cross the stile and continue on the path with the horse training ground on your left. At the end of the path go through a wooden gate and turn left, keeping the breeze-block wall on your left, your direction 50°. After 50 metres go through a fieldgate, along the driveway of Brambles House and out on to the road.
- Turn left on the road, northwards, passing Hadlow College Princess Christian Farm on your right. In 120 metres ignore Vines Lane on the left to keep straight on.
-  After a further 150 metres, turn left at a public footpath sign and a sign saying Woodside, your direction 325°. Continue along the wide path with fences on both sides.
- After 200 metres, when the wide path ends, go through a gap ahead to the right (hidden by vegetation in summer) and then through a wooded area to pass through another gap into a field. Continue with the fence on your left, direction 350°.
- In 400 metres, at the end of this large field, go past a big oak tree on your left and, following a low footpath sign, cross a track to go straight on across a field, your direction due north. In 200 metres, leave the field through a gap to carry straight on into a wooded area.
- After 30 metres cross a stile into a field and turn half left, your direction 270°, following the direction of the mini-pylons westwards, to the edge of the back garden of a house. Here turn right, your direction 320°, keeping the edge of the gardens to your left. In 150 metres, exit the field by a stile and footpath sign on the left, 30 metres before the field corner, to reach a car road.
- Turn right and in 15 metres take the car road to the right, signposted to Shipbourne, gently uphill. In 600 metres, well over the brow of the hill, where a road goes off to the right (again signposted to Shipbourne) you go left over a stile, due west, on a signposted public footpath with a field fence and tennis court on your right.
- Go straight on and in 350 metres go over a stile with a metal fieldgate to its left and straight ahead up an avenue, your direction 305°. In 200 metres go over a stile and straight on. After 250 metres across a potentially muddy field go over a stile and cross a stream to carry straight on slightly uphill, your direction 315° with a stream on your right. After 50 metres exit the field through a metal kissing gate on to an earth car lane . , With Green Lane Cottage on your right, continue ahead.
-  At a T-junction with a tarmac road, turn right due north, in 65 metres passing St Margarets Church, Underriver. In a further 75 metres you come to the White Rock pub, the suggested lunchtime stop.
- Coming out of the pub after lunch, turn right on the road and in 130 metres ignore the footpath on the right to continue gently uphill. In a further 100 metres, opposite a road to the right signposted Shipbourne, take the wide lane signposted public bridleway to your left, direction 305°.
- In 100 metres you pass Black Charles House on your right to continue up a slightly narrower path. In 320 metres turn right up a restricted byway with an oasthouse barn visible ahead to your left, your direction 345°. Continue steeply uphill on a potentially very muddy path overarched with trees.
- In 500 metres, near the top of the hill, you pass a path on the right marked Greensand Way. 20 metres after this, fork upwards to the left. In 10 metres cross a stile marked Greensand Way to the right of a metal gate.
- In essence you now just follow the Greensand Way until you come to a car road, but in more detail: Continue on, initially due west, with the field edge on your left. In 130 metres bear right at the corner of the field, your direction 340°. 100 metres on from this bend turn left across a stile, your direction 290°, into a wood. In 200 metres you exit the wood at a car road.
-  Cross the road to enter Knole Park by a fenced kissing gate; (ignore the fenced kissing gate to your right just inside the park).
- Continue straight ahead in your previous direction with the fence on your right. In 100 metres you come to a junction of tarmac roads and take the one straight ahead, your direction 325°. In 750 metres, at the top of a rise, at a tarmac path T-junction, continue ahead through an opening slightly to the right, direction 315°. In 20 metres you see fences on the left and your path becomes wider. Follow it towards the walled garden of Knole House, soon visible ahead.
- About 100 metres from the walls, fork left on to a wide grassy path that runs parallel to the walls, your direction 305°. You can get a good view of the side of Knole House through the second set of metal railings along the wall. At the end of the wall, turn right to reach the main entrance of Knole House.
- If you want tea now, go right and right again to the Brewery Teahouse.
- Otherwise continue ahead (or turn right on leaving the house if you have visited it) on the curved driveway, due north. In 85 metres from the entrance cross another road and immediately turn half left on the grass with no clear path uphill, heading for a clump of trees at the top of the rise, your direction 315° (on a line that is a continuation of the line of the side wall of Knole House behind you). You may need to weave your way round parked cars.
- Once there, following a footpath sign to the right go downwards, your direction 310°. In 150 metres keep a crater depression on your right. You are now on a clear path marked by a footpath sign that leads to a tarmac drive. Cross it to carry straight on, along a clear path initially downhill, your direction 300°.
- In 200 metres leave Knole Park by a fenced kissing gate to go steeply uphill, your direction 265°. In 5 metres you pass the entrance to Sevenoaks Environmental Park on your right. (If the park is open, a pleasant alternative route is to wend your way up through the park, always choosing the left hand fork to come out at the car park.)
- In a further 200 metres keep to the tarmac path as you pass the Sevenoaks Leisure Centre car park on your right. Continue past the end of the car park with a wall on your right and railings on your left, coming out opposite Waitrose.  Cross the road and continue to the right of the public toilets (Akehurst Lane) your direction 255°. This leads out to Sevenoaks High Street.
- Alternatively cross the Sevenoaks Leisure Centre car park diagonally to the opposite corner where you turn left, following the sign for the Tourist Information Office. After 50 metres you come to a road; cross it and carry on straight ahead past the bus stops to arrive at Sevenoaks High Street.
- There are various possibilities for tea in Sevenoaks. For Caffè Nero turn right down the High Street. For Costa Coffee, cross the High Street, turn right and continue to Blighs Road.
- After tea you will need to get to London Road which runs west of the High Street for the station. From Costa Coffee cross the car park to the far side where steps lead down to London Road; then turn right downhill. From Caffè Nero carry on along the High Street to the traffic light junction where you turn left along Pembroke Road; when you reach London Road, turn right.
- Continue for about 1km down London Road to reach Sevenoaks Station on the left for frequent trains to London.