Lenham to Charing walk

A tranquil walk along the North Downs


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, 09-Dec-23 b Lenham to Hollingbourne 1
Sat, 11-Nov-23 Lenham to Charing 8 sunny cool
Wed, 23-Feb-22 a Wednesday Walk Lenham to Hollingbourne - along the North Downs Way through attractive Kentish villages 17 Initial sunshine turning to thick cloud strong
Sat, 08-Feb-20 Saturday Walk: Lenham to Charing 21
Wed, 20-Feb-19 Wednesday walk Lenham to Charing or Hollingbourne - The North Downs Way and Kentish landscapes 20 bright with sunny periods and mild when sheltered from the wind
Sat, 03-Feb-18 c Saturday Walk - A North Downs Combo: Hollingbourne to Charing (1st part in reverse, i.e. map-led) 16 overcast till lunch drizzle for most of afternoon
Wed, 01-Feb-17 a Wednesday Walk - Lenham to Hollingbourne 11 wet
Sat, 14-Jan-17 Saturday First Walk - Lenham to Charing 14 a crisp winter day cold but sunny and dry
Sun, 15-Feb-15 a Lenham to Hollingbourne 7
Sat, 27-Sep-14 Lenham to Charing 5
Sun, 23-Mar-14 a Lenham to Hollingbourne 9
Sun, 16-Sep-12 Lenham to Charing
Sun, 04-Sep-11 ? Lenham Circular
Sun, 28-Nov-10 Lenham to Charing
Sun, 09-May-10 a Lenham to Hollingbourne
Sat, 06-Feb-10 a Lenham to Hollingbourne
Sun, 09-Aug-09 Lenham to Charing
Sun, 03-May-09 a Lenham to Charing
Wed, 04-Feb-09 a Lenham to Charing
Sat, 24-Jan-09 Lenham to Charing
Sun, 11-May-08 ? Lenham to Charing
Sat, 08-Dec-07 Lenham to Charing
Sat, 13-Jan-07 Lenham to Charing
Sat, 09-Dec-23 : Lenham to Hollingbourne 1
Extra Walk 1 - Lenham to Hollingbourne
Length: 14.5 km (9 miles). Toughness: 3/10
Catch the 09:55 from London Victoria arrives Lenham 11:16. Buy a day return to Lenham.
The proposed walk for today has been impacted by engineering works, however this walk diverts from the Lenham to Charing (walked a month ago) after 2km.
Lunch at the Ringlestone Inn or the Blacksmith Arms.
Return from Hollingbourne: xx:16
Sat, 11-Nov-23 : Lenham to Charing 8
SWC Walk 1 - Lenham to Charing
Length: 13.3 km (8.3 miles). Toughness: 3/10
Catch the 9:55 from London Victoria arrives Lenham 11:16.
Buy a day return to Charing. (Hollingbourne ending: Day return to Lenham.)
For anyone preferring a variation, then after 2.5km you may take the alternative ending to Hollingbourne which adds 1.2km to the walk.
Return from Charing: xx:04

  • 10-Nov-23

    Intend going

  • 10-Nov-23

    This looks like two separate walks that happen to start together for 2.5km, have i understood the map & instructions properly? I'' buy a day return to Charing then i guess I'll have a choice.

  • 10-Nov-23

    Yes that's correct, you can decide after 2.5km.

  • 12-Nov-23

    8 met at Lenham Station on a sunny cool day. 2 set off at some speed and either knowing the way, or correctly following the 55 degree directions, disappeared at the top of the field just below the North Downs Way. The rest of us spent some time scrambling through a very thorny, slippery gap in a hedge, then back again when we realised it was the wrong hedge, before finally finding the correct gap in a different hedge. Another failure further on to take the correct bearing meant we had to retrace our steps a little, and by this stage we started to think about the last-food-orders time at the pub. We reached the Harrow Inn but were either months or years late (shut) so kept going. Still thinking about food we skipped a couple of field footpath sections to walk on the (luckily quiet) road and did reach the Plough in time for 3 to order food, (one of the earlier ones had already finished) others had drinks and one continued on in the hope of getting the 3pm train. (After a wrong turning, then being persistently followed across a field by a flock of 20 sheep – think “Grandmother’s footsteps” - and deciding to take an entirely different but also lovely bridleway into Charing, they missed it). The Charing Tea Rooms is now “micro pub” but was not open until the evening. Except for the 3 later pub eaters, the rest of us all got the 16.04 which was 9 minutes late, held up by the Armistice Kentish Belle steam train, which thundered through Charing Station very fast with lots of black smoke. Some of us worried that we’d miss our connections but luckily they were held up too. Lovely part of the country, lots of mushrooms (?) growing singly in meadows, and toadstools (fly agaric) in the woods. Also, fields with a variety of plants – flax, beans, brassicas – all growing together, we wondered whether it was green manure or “set aside” allowing seeds from different years to grow.

  • 13-Nov-23

    I think your mixed crop fields are what is called “cover crops”. In order not to leave the field bare (not good for the microorganisms apparently) and yes, to fix nutrients back in the soil, fast-growing legume crops are planted after the August wheat harvest. They are then ploughed back in later in the winter before re-seeding with the new wheat crop.

    I got this from a farmers daughter this week, so hope I have reported it correctly. There are also “stubble turnips” which perform the same function and are then grazed by sheep.

  • 13-Nov-23

    Yes, cover crops. Also known as "green manure". They're used routinely on the farm where I occassionally work.

SWC 1 - Lenham to Hollingbourne

Length: 14.5 km (9 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10
London Victoria: 10-25 hrs Southeastern service to Ramsgate Bromley South: 10-42 hrs
Arrive Lenham: 11-45 hrs
Hollingbourne to Victoria: Southeastern services at 15-52, 16-17, 16-52, 17-17, 17-47 and 18-17 hrs

Rail ticket: Buy a day return to Lenham
Today's tranquil walk takes you through some pretty Kentish hamlets and villages. Your recommended lunch stop is in the village of Harrietsham at the Ringlestone Inn, some 6 km into the walk. Lunch should be served today if power has been restored to the pub after last weekends storms. You might wish to check by 'phoning the pub ahead: 01622 859900.
After lunch it's more of the same as you head towards Hollingbourne. For walk-end refreshments please refer to the Walk Directions.
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.1.a
  • 08-Feb-22

    The Blacksmiths Arms at Wormshill is only open in the evenings, according to its website. The Ringlestone Inn opens at midday.

  • 17-Feb-22

    After yesterday's Wednesday walk I believe I need a short break from the routine of both posting and attending the weekly Wednesday walks. So you are on your own today.

    Next week is Ash Wednesday (02 March) and Mr M Tiger is kindly posting a walk for you. The week after (09 March) will be Book 1 Walk 8 - Bures to Sudbury - and you can do that one without me. The following week (16 March) it will be Book 1 Walk 16 - Balcombe Circular - and you are on your own for that one, too. I expect to reappear - if so inclined - on Wednesday 23 March for Book 1 Walk 39 - Manningtree Circular. I will be book checking and keeping a healthy distance from others attending the walk, which will suit me dandy.

  • 18-Feb-22

    My heart went out to you, Marcus – and you of all people, who does so much for the club. Our club’s founder Nicholas would have been most upset that you were left behind as his whole ethos was to be community-minded and inclusive.

    People are splitting into factions more and more on walks, which is okay, I suppose, if you belong to a faction but if you don’t… Well, frankly, it doesn’t feel good to be left behind and no one noticing.

    This ‘every man for himself’ attitude that sometimes happens on group walks simply won’t do, and Marcus’s unfortunate incident has hopefully reminded us that while of course we can do our own thing on walks, we should also be looking out for one another and being kind.

    Come back soon, Marcus!


  • 18-Feb-22

    For those of you who like to plan in advance, please note the walk planned for Wednesday 16 March will no longer be the Book 1 Balcombe Circular but the SWC 174 Balcombe Circular via Ardingley. A closed footbridge by Lord Snowdon's lake on the Book 1 route makes the Book 1 walk undoable until the footbridge is repaired (expected by this summer). But you should enjoy Sean's SWC walk.

  • 19-Feb-22

    I completely agree with Anonymous that "it doesn’t feel good to be left behind and no one noticing." One of the joys of walking with the SWC, for me, is its total lack of regimentation, but I have sometimes been surprised to see one member of a group pause to e.g. retie a bootlace and be completely left behind by his/her erstwhile companions. I hope I have not been guilty of this, although I suspect I may have been on occasion. So, yes, let's, in a light-touch kind of way, look out for each other and, especially, be kind.

  • 20-Feb-22

    Following my rather acerbic comment below and my walk report on last Wednesday's walk a number of you have kindly sent private e-mails to me expressing concern that I am walking away from the SWC. Please be rest assured I am not - I am just taking a three week break from attending our mid-week walks during which time I hope to catch-up with my Book One walk checks. During my brief absence Mr M Tiger and I will be posting some good walks for our mid-week walk clientele to enjoy.

    I'm still smiling ! See you all soon !

  • 21-Feb-22

    For the Hollingbourne ending the lunch stop is either The Ringlestone Inn or The Blacksmith Arms. (The Plough is for the Charing ending.)

  • 21-Feb-22

    As Brian previously noted: The Blacksmith Arms is not open for lunch. So it's The Ringlestone. This pub was shut for a few months a year or so back and is no doubt now under new management. Their website is encouraging; it'd be best to check beforehand if they are serving food this Wednesday lunchtime.

  • 23-Feb-22

    Rang the pub this morning and spoke to the landlord. Sadly they are still without power so it’s a picnic today folks.

  • 23-Feb-22

    How about a late lunch at The Dirty Habit, Hollingbourne.

  • 23-Feb-22

    The Plough however is open if taking the route to Charing which I would certainly go for if anyone else would like this option

  • 24-Feb-22

    As far as I know the numbers were not counted, and I would guestimate about 20 walked today. We decided to stick to the planned walk and had sandwiches. Lenham is a lovely village, known also to me as where the Marley Tiles factory site used to be and some relatives of mine used to work there.

    It was a pretty lovely walk I had not done before on a changeable weather day. Little signs of budding or flowering, and the birds could be heard at times. Bluebell plants beginning to grow in the woods. A lot of fields and woods, and some good views, however we passed though little habited land as we began in one village and ended in another.

    We sandwiched outside the Ringlestone Inn in the hamlet where the power had been cut for about five days. A large tree had fallen on a farm roof over the road from the pub.

    It was very muddy in places, and some slopes were not easy, and I did feel the need for company at that time. Appreciating the tricky dynamics of there being no leader to wait to see if people were ok.

    Some of us had a lovely beer or cider in the Hollingbourne, either at The Dirty Habit (me), or The Windmill (others). Gavin

  • 24-Feb-22

    I think we counted 17

    Initial sunshine turning to thick cloud strong wind-and-drizzle

  • 25-Feb-22

    Good thanks Sandy

Sat, 08-Feb-20 : Saturday Walk: Lenham to Charing 21
8.3 miles / 13.3 km

A walk in a quiet area of the North Downs.

Trains: 09:25 London Victoria (09:42 Bromley South), arrives at Lenham 10:38. Return trains from Charing at xx:41. Buy a day return to Charing.

Lunch: The Plough Inn, Stalisfield Green (01795 890256), food served til 2:30pm.

The Mulberry Tea Rooms at Charing are open until 4pm. If you wait until 6pm you can get a drink at the Bookmakers Arms.

  • Anonymous

    You can extend this walk to 9miles as per instruction, more by map.

  • 06-Feb-20

    The 9 mile option (Lenham to Hollingbourne) is really a different walk, as it heads off in the opposite direction after just 2.7 km (40 minutes).

    Another way of extending the posted walk would be to follow it until just before the standard ending in Charing, then return to Lenham along the North Downs Way (a total walk of around 20-21 km). That variation has actually been posted twice in the dim and distant past. There are no written instructions but the NDW is well waymarked and you can simply reverse a short chunk of the outward route when you get near to Lenham.

    Or you could do the Fleet walk...

  • Anonymous

    21 , 18 on the platform and 3 in the car park. 4 University of Ohio students who are on an exchange program in London joined us. They were recommended by their tutor to our walk. A very nice walk especially in the afternoon when sun came out as forecast. The path was a bit muddy and stiles sometimes wobbly. 12 dined at the Plough Inn, really good quality food especially if you opted for specials on the black board. Service here was a bit slow but it was well worth the wait. Fish & Chips also looked good. Afternoon was a short walk. One was determined to get to the Mulberry Tea Rooms before 3:30pm to satisfy the long suppressed desire. Several followed. Tea, Cream tea, pie... we had, then off to catch 4:41 train, the full moon was with us all the way back to London.

SWC 1 - Lenham to Charing or Hollingbourne

Length: 13.3 km (8.3 miles) Option to walk to Hollingbourne adds 1.2 km to walk but no lunch stop serving food
Toughness: 3 out of 10 (more when muddy)

London Victoria: 10-25 hrs Canterbury West service Bromley South 10-42 hrs
Arrive Lenham: 11-38 hrs

Charing to Victoria: 05 and 41 mins past the hour
Hollingbourne to Victoria: 18 and 54 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Charing. If walking to Hollingbourne, buy a day return to Lenham

Today's walk makes for a pleasant, tranquil outing on a winter's day in Kent's classic countryside. Your pub stop for lunch is the Plough Inn in the village of Stalisford, some 8 km into the walk. For tea options at walk end, please refer to the Directions.
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.1
  • 16-Feb-19

    A quick food update for the Charing end of this walk. The Oak pub closed in 2015. There is another small pub in Charing, The Bookmakers Arms, but it doesn't open until 6pm.

    The Rosebud Tea Rooms is now Mulberry's (http://mulberrys.co/) at 42 the High Street.

  • cuppaluvva

    Mulberry's is open until 4. Phone number is 01233 714171.

  • Anonymous

    How do I get rid of the pink pins on the OS map?

  • David

    The normally very quiet Lenham station was uncharacteristically busy this morning as at least 18 walkers got off the train from Victoria. The weather was bright with sunny periods and mild when sheltered from the wind . However, much of the walk is at an altitude of over 400 feet (130 metres), so in exposed places, the wind felt quite cold. One or two stretches were muddy underfoot, but most of the walk was pleasant enough, and the directions were straightforward to follow. Those bringing sandwiches were politely asked not to occupy the picnic tables in front of The Plough, but use the side garden (hidden away from sight) instead. It was a good two-hour walk from Lenham to the pub, so this walk would work best at the weekend, when a train can be caught an hour earlier, without incurring extra expense. The after-lunch stretch took only 75 minutes to the excellent Mulberry's, where six of us enjoyed a reviving cuppa before catching the train back to London. Others might like to comment on the food and service at The Plough.

  • 21-Feb-19

    With two additional walkers arriving at the lunch pub some fifteen minutes after our main cohort, we actually mustered 20 on the day, an excellent turnout for a SWC mid-week walk. Nine of us dined at the Plough Inn where we received friendly service and enjoyed well presented, very good food. Having been informed the kitchen was not functioning to proper capacity when I phoned through in the morning to book, the pub performed very well to look after us. A few of the sandwichers ventured inside the pub for a drink, but most left early, leaving the diners to follow in two waves commencing thirty plus minutes later. Per David's report, the sandwichers had the benefit of arriving at the nice cafe in Charing in time for tea - the caff was well closed by the time my rearguard group arrived in Charing at 5 pm. We caught the 5-05 pm train, whilst I expect most other non-sandwiches were on the train before - and the sandwichers the day before !!

    Methinks this short(ish) walk makes for a perfect winter outing, mid-week or at a weekend, with lots of variety and some lovely views. Agreed an earlier start today would have worked better for our arrival at the lunch pub, but us oldies have to have regard to our younger walkers whose travel cards do not kick in until 10 am. On reflection, perhaps we could have reversed the walk today - Charing to Lenham - but then I would have had to field complaints from those who do not like to walk the bulk of a walk after lunch (as per last week's walk in Arundel). There you go.......but no matter, I thoroughly enjoyed my day, late start notwithstanding, and I hope a few others did likewise.

Length: 26.2 km (16.3 mi) (or 14.5 km to Lenham)
Ascent/Descent: 485/456m
Net Walking Time: 6 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
Take the 09.22 Canterbury West train from Victoria (Bromley South 09.39), arrives Hollingbourne 10.29.
Return trains from Charing are on xx.47. Buy a Charing return.
SWC 1 comes in two versions, both short: from Lenham, one leads south to Charing, and the other leads north to Hollingbourne. So why not make a proper walk of it by combining the two? Walk the start of the walk from Hollingbourne to where the two routes split map-led (or read the written directions in reverse) and then pick up the Lenham to Charing write-up where the routes meet.
A large section of the walk is to the north side of the North Downs Way and passes along some little used footpaths, making for a tranquil walk. Its attractions include the pretty hamlet of Stalisfield Green and the historic village of Charing for tea. Shorter Walk: finish at Lenham Station.
Lunch: Blacksmith Arms in Wormshill (8.3 km/5.2 mi, no food), Ringlestone Inn in Ringlestone (9.7 km/6.0 mi, food), Harrow Inn (Hotel) in Warren Street (17.1 km/10.6 mi, food to 14.00). Tea: Mulberry’s Tea Room and The Oak (which may or may not now be a Costa Coffee).
For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. t=swc.1.c
  • Karen

    16 overcast till lunch drizzle for most of afternoon

    16 off the train from London. One Rambler who missed the train for her intended walk with the Blackheath Ramblers took the initiative to approach one of our number in Victoria, found out we were doing a similar length walk and joined for her first SWC experience.

    Nicely undulating in the morning with a couple of good ascents. Some nice views. Plenty of mud, so quite hard work. On the upside, used lots of muscles that don’t get a work out very often... Map led until lunch, so a few navigational mishaps.

    8 had lunch at the very quirky Ringlestone Inn where the food was slow to arrive. The picnickers didn’t spend too long outside as the drizzle had started to come down just as we reached the pub. The slow arrival of the food was explained by an incident in the kitchen (said incident didn’t delay food service to the locals who arrived and ordered after our group).

    Us picnickers moved on. More arable fields in the afternoon, but like the morning, with clearly defined paths. Some nice wooded areas. Two of us stopped at the Plough Inn about 5km from the end and found it to be a lovely pub with friendly pleasant staff. 2 of the lunchers caught us up. The rest of the lunch group took various routes to Lenham as they’d had enough of the mud. 4 of us got to Charing Station with a comfortable 5 minute wait for the train, meeting the picnickers who had eschewed the Plough Inn with the hope of refreshment in Charing. What they got was a 50-minute wait at the station as despite its size Charing, is devoid of any refreshment stop at 17:00 on a Saturday. 17:47 train to Victoria. Good day out. Would be interested in doing this walk again on a dry sunny day when the views could be better appreciated.

SWC Walk 1a - Lenham to Hollingbourne

Length: 14 5 km (9 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

London Victoria: 10-22 hrs Canterbury West train (Bromley South 10-39 hrs)
Arrive Lenham: 11-35 hrs

Return: Hollingbourne to Victoria: 23 & 59 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Lenham

I have little recollection of this walk (the only time I ventured out on it was in February 2009) other than during the morning our group of nine was knee deep in fresh, drifting snow. Otherwise, my notes just state it was a nice walk - so there you go - it must be worth another winter's outing.......

The original suggested lunch pub (the Blacksmiths Arms) appears no longer to serve lunch on weekdays (just Sundays) so your lunch stop today should be The Ringlestone Inn in Harrietsham, some 6 km into the walk which from write ups sounds good. Best 'phone ahead with numbers: 01622-859900.

Other than that, I leave it to you all to read the Directions and notes on what I hope is a pleasant walk in Kent.
Directions here: L=swc.1

Next Week, Wednesday 08 February: Book 2, Walk 9a - Kintbury Circular
  • Marion

    11 off the train 5 booked for lunch all hoping that the forecast would be optimistic for a break in the rain and mist. Sadly the ground was so sticky in the unrelenting drizzle we were glad to reach the lunch stop after 1.30pm and I for one refused to continue. 3 others set off before me to walk by road to Hollingbourne station but i was offered a lift by a couple who took pity on me and we 4 caught the 4pm train to Victoria. Quite the earliest i've ever returned from a Wednesday walk. How did the others get on who walked in the afternoon?

  • 02-Feb-17

    I believe our 5 sandwichers continued the walk in the rain to Hollingbourne, with 2 others taking the road to Harrietsham (I hope they made it OK) and our independent walker doing her own thing, per usual.

    I continued with one other on the main walk - open fields, some woods, and more large fields. Briefly, around 4 pm, the rain stopped and mist/fog descended, making route following tricky. The final descent from the fields above Hollingbourne was on nasty, slippery, muddy paths and I for one had difficulty remaining upright. My younger companion found this going easier. Our walk through the village was by now in the dark and we made the station in good time for the 17-59 hrs train.

    The company today - eleven regular mid-week walkers - was, as always, most enjoyable, with plenty of good chat in the rain. We also enjoyed the cosy, quirky Ringlestone Inn which served nice, home cooked meals. And despite the weather, it was pleasant to breathe in clear, country air after London's recent polluted conditions. As for the walk, it is exactly eight years since I last did it, and I would be quite happy to leave it another eight years before venturing out on it again.

  • Anonymous

    11 wet

  • Anonymous

    In spite of adverse weather conditions the morning walk was enjoyable . After lunch at the lovely oldie worldy Ringlestone Pub with its roaring fires I departed by road for Hollinbourne in the mist. En route I encountered q full aniseed type hunt with the

    collection of hounds and horses. It was a wonderful sight to see in the English countryside.

    I had to get get back a bit earlier than some to attend my book club followed by my two hour Scottishcountry dance class. jfk

    Saw 3 of the others on the train

Lenham to Charing - SWC Walk 1
8.3 miles / 13.3km
A tranquil walk along the North Downs

Trains: take the 9:22 Canterbury West service from London Victoria (9:39 Bromley South), arriving at Lenham at 10:35. Return trains from Charing to London Victoria at xx47. Buy a day return to Charing.

Lunch: The Plough, Stalisfield Green (01795 890256), food served til 2:30.

The refreshment options listed in the walk notes for Charing have not fared too well. The Rosebud Tea Rooms at 42 High Street has closed down but is due to re-open as Mulberry's. The Oak has also closed down.

Click here for full details and walk directions

  • Ian T

    14 on this, on a crisp winter day cold but sunny and dry There was ice and snow underfoot - mostly a light dusting of the latter but occasionally deeper. One or two slopes were tricky. The Plough was welcoming and people seemed content. Some even stayed for pudding. And so on to Charing where the Mulberry was open and the Oak was shut. All 14 arrived at the station within minutes of each other (is this a record?) and got the 15:47. Enjoyable walk, good day out.