Meopham to Rochester walk

Ancient woodland, landscaped parkland and a nature reserve on the Kent Downs to a riverside town full of historical interest.

History

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, 05-Mar-22 Meopham Circular - A re-post after it was scuppered by Storm Eunice 9 grey and damp
Sat, 19-Feb-22 Saturday Walk - Meopham Circular or to Rochester - a new route in a familiar area storm damage
Sat, 01-May-21 Saturday Walk: Meopham Circular 8 mostly sunny with some cloud and the rain held off
Sat, 26-Oct-19 Saturday walk - Cuxton Circular - North Downs views and beech woods 6 light rain after lunch with sunny intervals in the morning
Sat, 29-Apr-17 Saturday Walk - Cuxton Circular 22 cloud and sun dry
Sat, 06-Aug-16 Saturday Second Walk - a little known corner of the North Downs 11 hot sunny
Sat, 15-Aug-15 Walk 3-173a: Cuxton to Snodland 7 sunny
Sat, 07-Jun-14 Cuxton to Halling 19
Sat, 20-Apr-13 Cuxton to Halling 21
Sat, 05-Mar-22
Meopham Circular - A re-post after it was scuppered by Storm Eunice
Length: 19.5km (12.2 miles), with options from 10.6 miles to 13.8 miles. T=swc.173
9.42 (Gillingham-bound) train from Victoria (9.52 Denmark Hill, 10.05 Bromley South) to Meopham, arriving 10.28
A day return to Meopham is fine if you are planning on the full circular walk. If you might want to finish at Sole Street buy a day return to there, and Rochester ditto. To keep your options open buy a day return to Rochester.
For walk directions click here**, for GPX click here and for a map of the route click here.
** Not many people know this, but if you click on the blue subject headings in the walk directions, you get a summarised version, which is useful for using in conjunction with a map.
This walk was posted two weeks ago, but completely scuppered by train cancellations due to Storm Eunice. So I thought we might try again....
The main walk (12.1 miles), a reworking of the former Cuxton to Halling route with some new twists, takes you from Meopham up onto a chalk ridge and then over the M2 motorway bridge (noisy, but with spectacular views) and on into historic Rochester (12.1 miles). But there are also two circular versions (12 miles and 13.8 miles) which loop back to Meopham through pretty territory that will be familiar to some of you from other Cuxton/Sole Street walks. On the way you pass close to Sole Street station: if you finish there, it saves you 1.4 miles, so 10.6 miles or 12.4 miles, depending on whether you did the extra loop of the circular walk.

Lunch is after 5 miles in Cobham, where there are three pubs - the somewhat over-touristed Leather Bottle (which makes too much of its slight Dickensian connections), the Darnley Arms and the Ship Inn: all three seem from their websites to be open normally. For tea options see the walk directions.
Trains back from Meopham are at 16 and 35 past (the 16 past being faster, at 35 minutes, while the 35 takes 55 minutes, though you can change at Bromley South and cut that to 45 minutes)
From Sole Street there is just one hourly train at 32 past (the nearby Railway Inn should be open to shelter you while you wait).
From the shiny new railway station at Rochester (much closer to town than the old one...) trains go at 05, 23 and 38 past to Victoria, taking around 40 minutes. Slower (1 hour 15 minutes) Thameslink trains go to London Bridge at 12 and 42 past, carrying on to St Pancras etc. There is also a 29 minutes past Southeastern High Speed service to St Pancras, but you need to have pre-purchased a ticket with a high speed supplement for this and it offers zero time advantages over the Victoria ones.
  • 05-Mar-22

    9 on this walk, despite a discouraging weather forecast. In fact it was just grey and damp rather than wet, with one VERY short shower in the afternoon, and more persistent rain only at the very end of the walk (just in time to wash the mud off our boots).

    I had not done the Meopham start before and found it interesting, with a couple of (soon to be) bluebell woods (one also scattered with violets), one very frisky horse, and the nature reserve, where a lark sang and the big wood had more incipient bluebells.

    This brought us to lunch, where at my urging we avoided the Leather Bottle and Darnley Arms and tried the Ship Inn. Not bad: a chain pub, perhaps a bit lacking in decor, but we could order at the bar and the food came quite quickly. No complaints about the fare that I heard.

    We had a vigorous discussion over lunch about whether we would walk to Rochester or back to Meopham. Actually we didn’t. My attempts to raise the subject were met with embarrassed silence. So using techniques I learned when staffing the London Visitor Centre at Victoria station in my youth, I “shut down the options” and suggested that the consensus seemed to favour Meopham. No one dissented.

    Shortly after lunch two walkers branched off at a non-authorised place to do a short cut back to Sole Street. The other seven of us did the longer loop around Ranscombe Farm but - at the urging of one of our number - did it backwards, which worked quite well. It meant the Medway Valley view was in front of us and we avoided doing the same woodland path twice. The farm is actually a Plantlife reserve and over its fields there was a positive cacophony of larks singing (at least four, maybe more) - an incongruously summery sound.

    The walk along the downs ridge and through the woods to Henley Street was very pleasant. There was discussion about stopping at the Cock Inn, but in the end we pushed on to Meopham. There we found the Station Inn rather basic. Possibly the last pub in England which does not serve hot drinks, food or anything but booze, and which offers nothing but wooden seating, though to be fair it seemed popular with locals. We did not linger long and caught the 17.16 express to Victoria (calling at Longfeld and Bromley South only!)

    Group cohesion factor: 88.8% (based on 9/9 keeping together in the morning and 7/9 in the afternoon: do check my maths…)

Sat, 19-Feb-22
Saturday Walk - Meopham Circular or to Rochester - a new route in a familiar area
Length: 19.5km (12.2 miles), with options from 10.6 miles to 13.8 miles. T=swc.173
9.42 (Gillingham-bound) train from Victoria (9.52 Denmark Hill, 10.05 Bromley South) to Meopham, arriving 10.28
A day return to Meopham is fine if you are planning on the full circular walk. If you might want to finish at Sole Street buy a day return to there, and Rochester ditto. To keep your options open buy a day return to Rochester.
For walk directions click here**, for GPX click here and for a map of the route click here.
** Not many people know this, but if you click on the blue subject headings in the walk directions, you get a summarised version, which is useful for using in conjunction with a map.
"Novelty, novelty, novelty!!" is the constant Saturday Walkers's cry, so here is a walk that nearly all of us have not done in its current form. I say "current form" because although it is a new walk, posted only once before, it is actually a reworking of the former Cuxton to Halling route.
The main walk here (12.1 miles) takes you from Meopham up onto a chalk ridge and then over the M2 motorway bridge (noisy, but with spectacular views) and on into historic Rochester (12.1 miles). But there are also two circular versions (12 miles and 13.8 miles) which loop back to Meopham through pretty territory that will be familiar to some of you from other Cuxton/Sole Street walks. On the way you pass close to Sole Street station: if you finish there, it saves you 1.4 miles, so 10.6 miles or 12.4 miles, depending on whether you did the extra loop of the circular walk.
I can't speak to the mud quotient on this walk: some of it may be on low-lying fields and it has been rainy this week... On the other hand some sections are on chalk downland which MAY be better drained. But bring appropriate footwear, gaiters, knee supports, trusses, trekking poles and whatever other accoutrements you find useful. Soon it will be spring and this kind of thing won't matter anymore.

Lunch is after 5 miles in Cobham, where there are three pubs - the somewhat over-touristed Leather Bottle (which makes too much of its slight Dickensian connections), the Darnley Arms and the Ship Inn: all three seem from their websites to be open normally. For tea options see the walk directions.
Trains back from Meopham are at 16 and 35 past (the 16 past being faster, at 35 minutes, while the 35 takes 55 minutes, though you can change at Bromley South and cut that to 45 minutes)
From Sole Street there is just one hourly train at 32 past (the nearby Railway Inn should be open to shelter you while you wait).
From the shiny new railway station at Rochester (much closer to town than the old one...) trains go at 05, 23 and 38 past to Victoria, taking around 40 minutes. Slower (1 hour 15 minutes) Thameslink trains go to London Bridge at 12 and 42 past, carrying on to St Pancras etc. There is also a 29 minutes past Southeastern High Speed service to St Pancras, but you need to have pre-purchased a ticket with a high speed supplement for this and it offers zero time advantages over the Victoria ones.
  • 18-Feb-22

    Is there a short cut that's actually doable please? plus the weather supposed to be back to normal tomo ?

    Thanks👍

  • 18-Feb-22

    I am not sure what you mean by “actually doable”. The short cuts are as described in the walk post, and there is more detail on the home page for the walk (click on the “walk directions” link). If you scroll down on the walk directions page you will see it even includes an interactive map, where you can click on each option and see its route displayed.

    All these options are “actually doable” unless conditions, such as a big storm the previous day, intervene. There is obviously a possibility that a) paths might be blocked by falling trees b) there might be localised flooding (though I can’t think of any specific place this might occur) and c) that the trains might be disrupted. We will just have to wait and see. As for the weather, I suggest consulting the BBC Weather or the Met Office. The latter have a detailed video forecast for the following day from late afternoon onwards.

  • 18-Feb-22

    Ok many thanks Walker, my question was a bit vague, sorry about that. Going to skip tomo as think there may well be leftover damage👍

  • 19-Feb-22

    I am assuming 0 on this walk, as all trains are cancelled due to storm damage . For anyone who got to Victoria and couldn’t find the train on the departure board, it did exist, I assure you: I think there were so many cancelled trains, they just decided not to list them all.

  • 19-Feb-22

    Denmark Hill staff assure me that Meopham is closed. I'm going to Eynsford as I have a walk on my phone. (South Bank Ramblers going from there. )

Sat, 01-May-21
Saturday Walk: Meopham Circular
Meopham Circular 12 miles / 19.25 km (Mid Circular Walk)
This is a walk with a few options:
  • I'm planning to walk one of the circular versions from Meopham - besides the Mid Circular Walk, there's a longer version that adds an extra loop round Ranscombe Farm Country Park making a total of 13.8 miles / 22.25 km
  • Finish in Rochester, the distance is also about 12 miles.
  • Finish in Sole Street to make a slightly shorter outing.
Trains: London Victoria 9:40, arrives at Meopham at 10:13. You will need a return to your finishing point.
Refreshments: Lunch is at the village of Cobham - The Leather Bottle and The Darnley Arms are open.
The Cock Inn at Henley Street looks to still be shut.
Contact Tracing: Please provide contact details just in case... You can pre-register on lwug or provide a mobile number/email address at the start of the walk.
Full walk details are here
T=swc.173

  • 02-May-21

    8 walkers on this new Kent walk. It was mostly sunny with some cloud and the rain held off .

    The route took us through bluebell woods with interesting old trees (mostly "hornbeams" I'm told), open stretches and some beautiful views. 5 did the circular from Meopham, 3 from Sole Street.

    No-one opted for the Rochester ending, hard as it was to resist the route alongside the M2.

Sat, 26-Oct-19
Saturday walk - Cuxton Circular - North Downs views and beech woods
Length: 17.3km (10.7 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10 T=3.173

9.18 Thameslink train from London Bridge* to Strood, arriving 10.24, changing there for the 10.34 to Cuxton, arriving 10.38

* This train also calls at St Pancras Thameslink at 9.02, Greenwich 9.27

OR

9.55 Southeastern High Speed train from St Pancras International to Strood, arriving 10.28, to connect with the Cuxton train as above.

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

According to the dusty tomes of the SWC archives this walk has not had an outing since April 2017. The sharp-eyed among you will notice that the main walk ending is in Halling, but I think at this time of year the Cuxton ending is preferable, since it goes along a lovely ridge of beech woods. It would be a brave man who predicted significant leaf colour on this, since autumn colour seems to be dragging its heels a bit this year, but there may be a bit.

Otherwise this walk includes some pleasant downland views, a mausoleum in the middle of the ancient estate, and the village of Cobham for lunch, where there are three possible lunch pubs (the Leather Bottle making rather too much of its very slight Dickens connections, but otherwise quite nice). The ancient tombs in Cobham church are also worth a glance.

Your tea stop is the White Hart in Cuxton, which is very handy for the station. It serves a full range of hot drinks and food all afternoon ("please ask about today's selection of delicious desserts"), and promises "roaring fires".

Trains back from Cuxton are at 22 and 52 past, arriving at Strood at 26 and 56 past, connecting there with:
- 32 and 02 past Southeastern High Speed trains to St Pancras (34 minutes)
- 45 and 15 past trains to London Bridge (1 hr 9 minutes) and on to St Pancras Thameslink: these trains also call at Greenwich, so the 17.22 from Cuxton = 17.45 from Strood would get you to Greenwich at 18.47



  • 25-Oct-19

    It is not mentioned in the walk directions, but after lunch on this walk you are very close to Sole Street station and could take a train back from there, if the weather turns out very inclement. Trains at 01 past to Victoria - a Cuxton return would be valid - and at 31 past to St Pancras changing at Rochester - Cuxton return with high speed supplement would probably be accepted. Both take about an hour (the Victoria train being actually a bit quicker).

  • 27-Oct-19

    6 on this walk, 1 on the high speed train, 4 on the Thameslink and 1 who drove to the lunch pub and walked back to meet us. Once again the rest of you were fooled by an over-gloomy forecast. In fact we had fairly light rain after lunch with sunny intervals in the morning . At times, indeed, it was quite pleasant before lunch: mild, breezy and bright.

    Autumn colour is definitely ticking up. Some trees - field maples, Norway maples - were showing quite a lot of yellow, and there were glorious red tones on some wild cherry, along with gold and maroons in the hedgerow. I might stick my neck out and predict good autumn colour for the next two weekends.

    For lunch one went to have sandwiches and was lost to history. The rest went to the Dickens-laden Leather Bottle where food was tasty and quickly served. After lunch we spent quite a while exploring the medieval tombs and brasses in interesting Cobham church, and the almshouse behind, which I had been in before.

    The car driver then left us and four of us plodded on in the light rain. Around Luddesdown vast areas of vineyard have been planted and on the ridge to Cuxton there was more autumn colour, though still far from its best. We had interesting and wide ranging conversations.

    The White Hart provided nice puds and tea for two of us, beer for the others, and we caught the 5.22 train home.

  • 27-Oct-19

    Oh, and we also saw two ENORMOUS “fairy rings” of fungi on the last stretch through the woods. A shame it was raining more persistently here, so I could not take a photo.

Sat, 29-Apr-17
Saturday Walk - Cuxton Circular
Saturday Walk: Cuxton Circular

Length: 11 Miles (17.5km) 6 out of 10

This is a variant of the Cuxton to Halling walk, and for the last third of the walk, gives a different perspective on the start of the Cuxton To Snodland (which you do in reverse to create the circular walk. The walk instructions include how to do this). T=3.173

Trains: The 1022 from St Pancras International. Change at Strood (arr 1057 depart 1104 on the Tonbridge train) arr Cuxton at 1108. There is also a slow train from Charing Cross at 0939 London Bridge 0946 to Gillingham arr Strood 1049.
Return trains at xx22 & xx52

Lunch: There are three pubs in Cobham, 4.5 miles (7¼ km) into the walk. The suggested place is the Leather Bottle (01474-814327), which serves a good selection of home-made food and has a large back garden. Earlier you pass the Ship Inn (01474-814326) and the Darnley Arms (01474-814218). If you want to eat slightly later you could make a short detour to the Cock Inn (01474-814208) in Henley Street.

Tea: Cuxton has the White Hart pub (01634-711857) at the top of Station Road, while a short detour will take you past a mini-market in the village.
  • 26-Apr-17

    There are lots of areas of bluebells along the last ridge to Cuxton on this walk.

    A glance into the White Hart in Cuxton the other week suggested it was rather nice, despite its slightly unpromising location

  • Ian T
    30-Apr-17

    22 cloud and sun dry Great swathes of yellow to start as we walked alongside rapefields. Only a smattering of bluebells till mid afternoon .The final section was awash with the little devils. There was also an impressive display of wild garlic at one point. Leather Bottle was fine The two I was with had a posh wild mushroomy thing that seemed to go down well. Later the White Hart was OK too. Amazingly, I found myself with a group even slower than myself. But we got there.

  • Anonymous
    30-Apr-17

    I don't think the group I was with would share the feeling that the Leather Bottle was fine. Everything came within a very few minutes, plainly much assisted by a microwave. Mashed potato was instant. Given that there are three pubs in Cobham, I'd be up for trying the others next time.

  • Anonymous
    30-Apr-17

    A few had the idea to have lunch at the Cobham festival, Munchies on the Meadow which was just past the pub.

    Reports that for lunch it was very good and some of us had a wander around after lunch and picked up bread and jams etc.

    More info here

    http://www.munchiesfestival.com/

    Stephen

  • Anonymous
    30-Apr-17

    As well as the Cobham festival there was the annual Rochester Sweeps festival

    http://www.medway.gov.uk/leisurecultureandsport/events/sweepsfestival2017.aspx

    if you still had the energy for more eating, drinking and dancing...

Sat, 06-Aug-16
Saturday Second Walk - a little known corner of the North Downs
SWC Walk 173 - Cuxton to Halling
Length: 18km (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10

9.55 Southeastern High Speed from St Pancras International to Strood, arriving 10.27, changing there (down under the underpass to the opposite platform usually) there for the 10.34 to Cuxton, arriving 10.38

ALTERNATIVELY, the 9.09 from Charing Cross (9.12 Waterloo East, 9.27 Lewisham) to Strood arrives at 10.19 and connects more comfortably with the Cuxton train.

Get a day return to Halling (pronounced "Hauling")

For walk directions click here.

This varied Kentish walk has not had an outing for two years, as far as I can see. It revisits territory familiar from the Snodland to Sole Street and Cuxton to Sole Street walks, but with plenty of surprises and twists all of its own.

Attractions include a reserve managed by the charity Plantlife, which may have some interesting flowers, a neo-classican mausoleum, and the pretty valley of Luddesdown, with its organic farm.

Lunch is in the village of Cobham, where you can choose between the Leather Bottle, with its somewhat slight connection with Dickens (it gets a very brief mention in Pickwick Papers) or the less touristy Ship Inn and Darnley Arms.

In the afternoon the standard walk descends to the river Medway at Halling and there is an optional loop through marshes along the river (again, interesting flora may be present). Or you can talk an alternative ending back to Cuxton, which is slightly shorter.

In both cases your tea stop will be a fairly rough and ready pub. The one in Halling I remember as friendly but a bit stuck in the 1970s.

Trains back from Halling are at 18 and 48 past (22 and 52 from Cuxton) with connections at Strood getting you to St Pancras in about 50 minutes or Charing Cross in 1hr 25 minutes


  • 05-Aug-16

    Will I need my sun lucky hat??

  • 06-Aug-16

    Or lucky sun hat!

  • 06-Aug-16

    Train delays, missed connections, stuck on platform, we all are 30min behind you, I think my old hat need a good old washing!!

  • Ian T
    07-Aug-16

    11 Most arrived 30 minutes late thanks to the HS1 leaving St P 6 minutes late (no driver!) and missing the connection by 1 minute, despite it having been asked to wait. 2 got there on time on the Charing X train. It were a tough walk on such a hot sunny day. Lots of up and down bits (I’m sure there were more ups than downs). Still, mustn’t grumble. Good views etc

Sat, 15-Aug-15
Walk 3-173a: Cuxton to Snodland
Length: 19.5km (12.1 miles), Toughness: 6/10

Features: Cobham Park, Luddesdown

Trains: 9:39 from Charing Cross changing at Strood (arr. 10:49, dep. 11:04) to Cuxton arriving at 11:08. Buy a day return to Snodland. Alternatively, 10:22 from St. Pancras changing at Strood (arr. 10:57, dep. 11:04). Return trains from Snodland are at xx:22, xx:52. Change at Strood for Charing Cross or St. Pancras.

Options: Walk length can be reduced by 1.5km by finishing at Halling; or reduced by 2km by finishing at Cuxton.

Lunch: The suggested lunch stop is The Leather Bottle (01474 814 327) in Cobham about 7.5km into the walk - it has a pleasant garden. There are two other pubs in Cobham.

Tea: There are a couple of pubs in Snodland.

Directions: For more information including directions, maps, GPS etc. see SWC.173

  • 16-Aug-15

    7 sunny

    6 off the scheduled train, 2 of which announced immediately that they were slow walkers, which inevitably lead to them forming a separate group after a while. the rest where joined at lunch by the walk poster, who had missed the scheduled train. nice walk on a splendid day with a healthy mixture of woods, fields, far views, valleys and nice churches (we visited them all, and got a guided tour and bell-ringing demo in one of them in return). The only downside was the end of the walk: a bit tarmacky anyway, and then the ending in Snodland didn't really work: the route along the Medway is blocked due to the works for building a new river crossing, necessitating quite a bit of A-road side walking. That ending probably best avoided until the bridge is finished. Minor quibbles though. 17.15 train.