Main Walk: 21½ km (13.4 miles). Five hours 15 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9½ hours.
Short Walk 1, omitting Penshurst village: 15½ km (9.6 miles). Three hours 45 minutes walking time.
Short Walk 2, also omitting Chiddingstone: 14¾ km (9.2 miles). Three hours 30 minutes walking time.
Explorer 147. Penshurst Station (in Chiddingstone Causeway, TQ519467) is in Kent, 7 km W of Tonbridge.
5 out of 10 (3 for the Short Walks).
This walk starts through low-lying farmland interspersed with patches of woodland and eventually comes to one of the few viewpoints over Bough Beech Reservoir, a large body of water which is surprisingly well-shielded from public footpaths in the vicinity. It drops down to cross the causeway at the northern end of the reservoir, the portion designated as Bough Beech Nature Reserve. There are opportunities for bird-watching here and a little further on at the Bough Beech Visitor Centre, which has displays about the history and wildlife of the area; it is open four days a week from April to October (Tue/Wed/Sat/Sun & BH), plus some Sundays in winter.
After a loop around the western side of the reservoir the walk comes to the first of two possible lunch pubs, in the hamlet of Bough Beech. The reservoir was created by damming one of the streams from the Greensand Hills flowing into the River Eden, and the walk now crosses the river several times as it makes its way to the second lunch pub in the picturesque village of Chiddingstone. On days when it is open (Sun–Wed from April to October) you could explore the grounds of Chiddingstone Castle, a castellated manor house rebuilt in the 19thC which contains an unusual collection of art and curiosities; admission (2017) to the house is £9.50.
A stretch along the Eden Valley Walk leads to another attractive Wealden village, Penshurst. Just outside the village Penshurst Place is an even more impressive manor house, the home of the Sidney family since the 16thC. There is still a fairly lengthy final leg through the mature parkland of its large estate and more farmland before you return to Chiddingstone Causeway, with its welcoming pub next to Penshurst station.
This part of the Eden Valley is a popular walking area and this one overlaps with several other SWC walks. The first 3 km more or less reverses the ending of Book 2 Walk 16 (Hurst Green to Chiddingstone Causeway). Most of the stretch between Chiddingstone and Penshurst is the same as Extra Walk 92a (Leigh Circular). Book 1 Walk 19 (Hever to Leigh) goes through both of these villages, while part of this walk's final leg follows the route of Book 1 Walk 15 (Leigh to Tunbridge Wells) in the reverse direction.
There are several ways of shortening the walk. In the morning you can take a more direct route to the first lunch pub which saves 3½ km; this short cut misses out the Bough Beech Visitor Centre (and indeed all views of the water) but would be worth considering if you missed a train and had to start an hour late.
In the afternoon two possible Short Walks are available. The first (which can be combined with the morning short cut) takes a direct route back from Chiddingstone, saving 6 km by omitting the southern loop through Penshurst village. The second takes a direct route back from Bough Beech, reversing part of the morning short cut and also going through an attractive stretch of woodland designated as Chiddingstone Nature Reserve.
If you want to abandon the walk in Bough Beech or Penshurst, Metrobus 231 & 233 combine to give a regular bus service (Mon–Sat) to Edenbridge in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other.
Penshurst station (3 km north of its village, in the hamlet of Chiddingstone Causeway) is on the Redhill–Tonbridge line, with an hourly direct service from Victoria (London Bridge on Sundays) via Redhill taking one hour. Buy a return to Penshurst, which from London is also valid on fast Charing Cross and Cannon Street services, changing at Tonbridge.
If driving, there is a small private car park on the south side of Penshurst station where a sign says the charge is £3 per day, although this may not be enforced at weekends.
Take the train nearest to 09:45 from Victoria (or London Bridge) to Penshurst, or an hour later if taking the morning short cut.
The main choice is between two attractive and relatively up-market lunch pubs, both now run by the same consortium and serving very good food. The first (and only option on Short Walk 2) is the Wheatsheaf (01732-700100) in Bough Beech, after 9½ km (6 km with the short cut). This popular pub/restaurant is likely to be fully booked at weekends but on fine days there should be space in its garden area, set well back from the road.
In a further 3¼ km the equally good Castle Inn (01892-870371) in Chiddingstone reopened in April 2017 after being closed for nearly a year. It is in a quieter location and has a particularly attractive back garden. Another option in this village would be to have a light lunch at the Tulip Tree tearoom.
On the Main Walk, a very late lunch might be possible at the Leicester Arms Hotel (01892-871617) in Penshurst, after a further 4 km.
At the end of the walk the Little Brown Jug (01892-870318) is just a stone's throw from Penshurst station. It is open all day and serves tea and coffee as well as normal pub fare.
For the walk options which go through Chiddingstone and Penshurst earlier refreshment stops are possible as both have good tearooms. In Chiddingstone the Tulip Tree (01892-871504) tearoom is open daily to 5pm, and on days when the castle is open you can visit its equally good Victorian Tearoom (01892-870347) without necessarily paying to visit the house.
In Penshurst the Fir Tree House (01892-870382) tearoom has a large garden and is open from 2.30-6pm, but is closed on Mondays (except Bank Holidays, when it is closed the following Tuesday; it might also be closed on other weekdays in winter).
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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.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Walk Options ( Main | Short )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (21½ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- Penshurst Station to Bushy Wood (3 km)
- Bushy Wood to Bough Beech Visitor Centre (2 km)
- The Visitor Centre to Chittenden Wood (2¼ km)
- Chittenden Wood to Bough Beech (village) (2¼ km)
- Bough Beech (village) to Hale Oak Road (3 km)
- Hale Oak Road to Penshurst Station (2¼ km)
- Bushy Wood to Bough Beech (village) direct (3 km)
- Bough Beech to Chiddingstone (3¼ km)
- Chiddingstone to Penshurst Station direct (2¾ km)
- Detour to the Chiding Stone (+400m)
- Chiddingstone to Penshurst (village) (4 km)
- Penshurst (village) to Penshurst Road (2½ km)
- Penshurst Road to Penshurst Station (2¼ km)
Go out to the B2027 and turn right onto it. In 200m turn left onto a footpath heading north across fields. Turn right onto Camp Hill and then left into Charcott. Take the footpath skirting to the east of Charcott Farmhouse, then turn left and right onto a footpath going past Brownings Farm. Cross Hale Oak Road and take the left-hand of two footpaths opposite. In the far left-hand corner of a field continue through a belt of trees. Follow a permissive path skirting around Bushy Wood Place and go down its driveway.
This section mostly follows the route of Book 2 Walk 16 (in reverse).
Leave the station at the front of Platform 2 (the one for trains to Tonbridge) and go out to the B2027, with the Little Brown Jug opposite. Cross this main road carefully and turn right to go along the pavement for 200m, passing St Luke's church1 and a War Memorial on the other side. Opposite the junction with the B2176 turn left onto a long straight tarmac path between large fields2.
At the end turn right onto a road (Camp Hill), taking care as there is no pavement, then in 75m turn left onto a minor road into Charcott. Where this turns right towards houses (including the Greyhound pub) keep ahead briefly on the driveway to Charcott Farmhouse (a B&B). In 50m turn right through a metal side gate and follow a broad grassy path all the way through a long narrow meadow, heading N and passing the farmhouse off to the left.
On the far side go out through either of two fieldgates (or a new metal kissing gate to their right) and turn left to go along a broad grassy field margin. In 200m turn right in the field corner to head N again, with a wood on your left. In 100m follow the grassy track as it bears left into this small wood, coming out into the corner of another field. Do not continue along the field margin but turn half-right to go diagonally across the field. At the tree boundary turn half-left and cross another field to a lane (Hale Oak Road).
Cross the road and go through a metal side gate just off to the right into the field opposite, with two footpaths signposted. Take the one going directly away from the road (there is no trace of the right-hand one). On the far side of the field bear left to go alongside a hedge to the field corner and follow the path into a long belt of trees. In 250m go past an old wooden gate and keep ahead at a staggered crosspaths. In a further 40m the path comes out of the trees and you continue on a faint grassy path through a narrow field.
As you approach a house on the right (Bushy Wood Place) the right of way goes through its garden gate but it is less intrusive to take a permissive route skirting around it, by carrying on through the field to the left of a tree-lined pond. Go through a new kissing gate in the far right-hand corner and along a short track to rejoin the right of way, away from the house along its driveway. About 40m before it comes out onto a lane at a bend, there is a path on the left into Bushy Wood.
If you are doing the morning short cut, go to §7.
Head west along the lane for 250m. Take the footpath to the left of “The Old Forge” heading west to Batfold Wood. Instead of continuing down to the minor road, follow the Bore Place Field Trail between points #14 & #16 and then veer left onto another footpath leading down to the road. Turn right and follow the road across the causeway at the northern end of Bough Beech Reservoir, then turn left into the Visitor Centre.
Ignore the path, go down to the lane and continue along it in the same direction for 250m, where it bends left. Immediately after passing the driveway to Bore Place (the Book 2 route) and a large house “The Old Forge” go over a stile in the hedge on the right into a narrow field. Go across it to the far side, over a stile and along a short path through some trees. At the end go over another stile and keep ahead on a fenced-off grassy track, with a wood on your right.
At the end of the wood go over a stile and continue in the same direction across a large field, aiming for a tall wooden post topped with yellow and red bands in the hedge a little way to the left of a wide gap. At this marker post (for the Bore Place Field Trail3) go over a stile in the hedge and carry on across the next field, aiming roughly for the centre of the wood ahead, 150m away. As you approach the trees you will see another marker post indicating a path into the wood.
In the unlikely event that this permissive path on the Field Trail has been closed, simply keep ahead down the slope (staying on the public footpath) and turn right onto the road at the bottom, rejoining the route in 250m; continue the directions at [•] below.
Go over a stile by the post ⑭ into Batfold Wood, passing an information panel Valley view about the history of Bough Beech Reservoir4. At the end of the wood ⑮ continue across the top of a field, finally with a view of the water. As you approach the corner ⑯ veer left down the slope (leaving the Field Trail, which turns right) and go through a small metal gate onto a tree-lined public footpath. At the bottom go over a stile and turn right onto the pavement beside a minor road, heading N.
[•] In 200m the road starts to bend left and becomes a causeway across the reservoir (a popular bird-watching spot), with an information panel on the far side about Bough Beech Nature Reserve5. Continue along the pavement for a further 250m and then turn left into the signposted entrance to Bough Beech Visitor Centre, squeezing past a locked metal fieldgate if necessary (this route is a right of way and always open to walkers).
On days when it is open snacks are available from the small shop on the ground floor of the converted oast house, and you can visit a small exhibition on the upper floor. There is an observation point in front of Rushy Meadow, and a bird hide overlooking the Roy Coles Flood behind the barn.
Take the footpath behind the Visitor Centre heading south and follow it through woodland around the north-western edge of the reservoir. Head south-west to Ide Hill Road and take a footpath heading west to Chittenden Wood. Continue along its southern edge to a footpath junction.
Go up a short slope and through a wooden gate behind the oast house into the corner of a field. Turn left to head S along its edge. Continue in much the same direction on a path through a lightly wooded area and then across a small field, going through more gates along the way. On the far side of the field go through another gate into a wood (Longbroom Shaw) and turn right to follow the path around its edge, gradually curving down to the left.
After briefly going alongside a high wire fence guarding the reservoir the path comes to a wooden gate in the hedge on your right. Go through this and turn half-left to go up across a field, heading SW (if there is no clear path, aim for the left-hand end of the wood at the top). In the corner turn half-right to go along the top of the next field, with the wood on your right and views of the water off to your left.
At the end of the field turn left onto a lane (Ide Hill Road) and go along it for 175m. Opposite a house turn right through a small metal gate onto a signposted footpath, along the right-hand edge of a field and heading W. At the next corner go through a small gate in the hedge on the right and turn left to continue in your previous direction, with a hedge on your left. In 250m turn left through an easily-missed small metal gate in the hedge.
Make your way across a field (with no clear path) to the far right-hand corner, 150m away. Follow a short path into a belt of trees, across a stream and out through a gate. Bear right and go along the edge of two very large fields for 600m, soon with Chittenden Wood on your right and climbing gently. At the end of the second field there is a wide gap ahead into a third field.
Turn left at the corner of the wood to head south on field edges and along a short stretch of Furnace House Lane. Turn left onto a footpath heading east and follow it along the edge of a meadow, through Clinton Wood and along more field edges to Ide Hill Road. Turn right and go along the lane to its junction with the B2027. Cross the railway bridge and Hever Road to the Wheatsheaf pub.
In the field corner turn left in front of the gap to head S along the field edge, with a tall hedge on your right (this is the right of way, although local dog walkers prefer to avoid a couple of kissing gates by taking the grassy field edge on the other side of the hedge). After going through these gates the two paths merge and you keep ahead across a patch of grass towards a fieldgate.
Go past the gate and bear right onto a lane, still heading S. In 200m, just before it turns sharply right, turn left through a squeeze gate and go along the right-hand edge of a large meadow for 300m. In the corner turn right through a gate onto a path through a conservation area, Clinton Wood. The woodland path goes over a small rise and then drops down to cross a stream on a narrow footbridge.
At the end of the wood continue in much the same direction for 600m: along the right-hand side of a field, through a belt of trees and then along the edge of a much larger field. In the far corner veer right through a wide gap in the hedge and across a potentially muddy patch of ground to a lane (Ide Hill Road again), with trees opposite screening a water treatment plant. Turn right and go along this quiet lane for 450m, eventually going past some houses and coming to a junction with the B2027.
The route goes over the narrow bridge ahead (across the Redhill–Tonbridge railway line) and although the traffic is slow moving because of the sharp bends at each end you obviously need to take great care as there is no pavement. Cross the bridge on the right-hand side of the main road and go across a side road to the Wheatsheaf pub.
If you are doing the Main Walk or Short Walk 1, go to §8.
Cross the B2027 and take the footpath heading north-east, across the railway and then below the retaining wall of the reservoir. Continue past Bough Beech Sailing Club, across a minor road and another field to reach a lane in front of a house (Hickens). Go along the house's driveway to a footpath heading east, which has been diverted to the south of the property shown as Polebrook Farm on the OS map. Follow this well-waymarked new path along field edges to Hale Oak Road.
The Short Walk 2 route continues on a footpath on the other side of the B2027 from the pub's car park, just beyond a bus stop off to the right. Cross this main road with great care, looking out in particular for traffic coming over the railway bridge and turning sharp left. Follow this footpath down through a belt of trees towards the railway line. At the bottom cross the tracks carefully and turn right along the edge of a field.
In 150m turn half-left to go across the field. In the tree boundary go over a footbridge and continue in the same direction across the next field, aiming just to the left of the far corner. Go through a narrow gap in the trees onto an enclosed path between hedges and follow this for 700m, climbing gently below the sloping retaining wall of the reservoir. At the end of this long path go over a stile and keep ahead across a field, now almost level with the dam wall (but with no view of the water from the right of way).
On the far side of the field go over another stile and past a pond in a belt of trees. Go straight across the access road to Bough Beech Sailing Club and over another stile. Continue in the same direction across two more fields separated by another belt of trees, to reach a minor road. Cross this carefully and take the footpath 10m off to the right, a faint path heading E across a triangular field. On the far side go over a stile onto a lane, with an attractive tile-hung house “Hickens” opposite.
Cross the lane and take the footpath opposite, along the house's driveway. At the far end go through a wooden gate, over a stile and along the left-hand edge of a large field. In 100m a “Private” notice indicates that the original footpath (just visible in the trees) has been diverted so you continue along the field edge for a further 200m as it bends to the right, eventually heading S. Turn left through a new wooden gate, cross a footbridge and a driveway and veer right through another small wooden gate.
Continue along the right-hand side of a small field. Go through another new gate in the corner and turn left along the edge of the next field, now heading E. Keep ahead through a wide gap in the trees to the next field corner. Go through a gate and a belt of trees into another field (rejoining the original right of way) and continue in the same direction, ignoring a footpath off to the right.
In the next corner a short path past a pond in the trees leads into another field, with farm buildings visible ahead. Two rights of way cross in the middle of this field but unless the paths have been marked out the simplest route is to turn right and go around the field edge, heading SE towards a lane on the far side. In the right-hand corner go through a black metal gate with a footpath waymarker onto a short path through the corner of a wood to a lane (Hale Oak Road).
Cross the road and take the footpath heading south-east and then south through a wood (Chiddingstone Nature Reserve) to the B2027. Cross over and continue on a farm drive going back over the railway line to Beckett's Farm. Turn left in front of the farm buildings onto a footpath and head east along the right-hand edge of a large field, then north-east across some smaller fields to Penshurst station.
Turn right briefly onto the lane, then in 15m turn left across a plank bridge and through a black metal gate in the hedge into a field. Turn half-right and follow a faint grassy path across the field to a similar gate in the tree boundary on the far side. Go through this and follow a clear woodland path for 500m, heading SE and then S, with the central section designated as Chiddingstone Nature Reserve6.
At the end go through a metal kissing gate onto the B2027. Cross this main road carefully and continue on the farm drive to the left of the house opposite, signposted as a footpath. In 200m this takes you back over the railway line (with Penshurst station 800m off to the left) and on towards the buildings of Beckett's Farm. Where the drive splits in front of the farm buildings go over a stile on the left into a large field.
Go alongside the boundary of the farm buildings for 40m, then bear right across a patch of rough ground (with no clear path) to find a stile in the hedge 100m ahead. Go over this stile and continue along the right-hand edge of a large field for 300m, heading E.
In the corner go over a stile to the right of a metal fieldgate and continue up to another. Go through this gate and turn left along the edge of another large field. About 100m before the railway embankment which you can see up ahead, turn right by a footpath marker post to go straight across this field, heading E again. On the far side go through a metal fieldgate to continue along a grassy track on the left-hand edge of a field. At the end go over a stile beside a wooden fieldgate into a small parking area for a timber yard.
Penshurst station is at the back of the car park, with Platform 1 on this side for trains to London via Redhill. For some refreshment before the journey back, or to take a train to Tonbridge, cross the footbridge to Platform 2. The Little Brown Jug (which you passed at the start of the walk) is on the other side of the B2027, directly opposite the station.
Just before reaching a lane turn left onto a permissive path into Bushy Wood and follow the waymarked Bore Place Field Trail from points #9 to #12. Turn left onto a lane to come to a house (Hickens) in 175m. Take the footpath heading west and then south-west, past Bough Beech Sailing Club and below the retaining wall of Bough Beech Reservoir. At the end cross the railway and go up to the B2027; the Wheatsheaf pub is on the right by the junction with Hever Road.
For the next 800m you will be following part of a Field Trail, waymarked with tall wooden posts topped with yellow and red bands. In the unlikely event that this permissive path has been closed, go down to the lane and head west and then south-west along it for 900m to reach Hickens; continue the directions at [•] below.
Turn left off the driveway onto the permissive path into Bushy Wood, joining the Bore Place Field Trail3 at point ⑨. Follow the meandering woodland path for 300m to a field, Wood Piece. Keep ahead on a faint grassy path, gradually approaching its right-hand side. Just before the corner ⑩ the path veers into the trees and you follow it through a small wood, crossing several streams on footbridges. Go out over a stile into Wilson Field ⑪.
Bear left along the field edge and turn right in the corner to go gently uphill on a grassy track for 200m. Go over a stile to the right of a metal fieldgate and turn left onto a lane, leaving the Field Trail just before ⑫. Follow the lane as it swings right and left and goes gently downhill, in 175m reaching a tile-hung house “Hickens” on the left.
[•] Opposite the house's driveway turn right over a stile in the hedge and follow a faint path heading W across a triangular field (the footpath signpost was slightly awry at the time of writing). On the far side go over another stile in the hedge and out to a minor road. Cross this carefully and take the footpath 10m off to the right, through a belt of trees into a field. Follow the footpath across the field to the far corner, going through several gates and heading SW.
Go over stiles in a belt of trees and straight ahead across another field, passing Bough Beech Sailing Club off to the right. On the far side of the field go straight across the club's access road and past a pond in a belt of trees. Keep ahead across the next field, with the retaining wall of Bough Beech Reservoir4 off to your right (but no view of the water from the right of way). On the far side of the field go over another stile and follow a broad grassy path between a hedge and a low wire fence for 700m, parallel to the sloping dam wall.
Towards the end the path turns sharply left to head S and eventually comes out through a narrow gap, where you turn three-quarters right to go across a field. In the tree boundary go over a footbridge and continue across the next field, slightly to the right. On the far side bear right to go most of the way along its edge, then cross a stile on the left towards the Redhill–Tonbridge railway line. Cross the tracks carefully and follow a short path sloping up through some trees, coming out onto the B2027 by a bus stop.
Although there is a pavement on this side of the road it is better to cross the road with great care at this point (if you cross further along there is limited visibility for traffic coming over the bridge and turning sharp left). Turn right to walk carefully along the other side to the road junction and the Wheatsheaf pub. If you are not visiting this pub the walk continues up the driveway just before the entrance to its car park.
Take the driveway heading south from the road junction by the pub. In front of the entrance to “Gravelpits” turn left onto a footpath heading south-east to Mill Lane. Go along the lane for 200m, crossing over the River Eden, then take a footpath heading east across a meadow. Cross back over the river and turn right onto a track going down through Somerden Green. After crossing the river for a third time take the right-hand of two footpaths up into Chiddingstone.
Take the unsurfaced driveway beside the entrance to the pub's main car park, climbing gently and heading S (if its overflow car park is being used you can also go out through the field behind its beer garden). Ignore a footpath off to the left of the driveway and continue for a further 75m, then fork left in front of the entrance to a house “Gravelpits”. Immediately bear left onto a narrow path between hedges, which leads out through a small metal gate into a field.
Turn right and follow a path around the field edge. This curves round to the left and then veers right to go down the edge of a large field, with a low hedge on the left. At the bottom follow the path round to the left, then veer left and right as indicated to continue in much the same direction on the other side of a hedge. In the field corner go through a squeeze gate to the left of a metal fieldgate and turn right onto a minor road (Mill Lane).
In 200m, shortly after crossing the River Eden7, turn left onto a signposted footpath. Go over a stile and follow a grassy path across a large meadow, heading E. On the far side go back over the River Eden on a long footbridge, negotiating some awkward metal poles at each end. Follow the path through some trees and bushes and then up a sloping field, passing a large oak tree in the middle. On the far side turn right onto a long driveway (Somerden Green), passing several cottages and gradually descending.
After the last set of cottages the driveway peters out and becomes a grassy path between hedges. In 200m cross the river for a third time on a new footbridge and continue on the path for a further 125m. At the start of a wood on the left turn right at a three-way footpath signpost and follow a grassy path curving round to the left across a field. In the opposite corner veer right through a gap in the tree boundary and continue along the left-hand side of some small fields. At the end turn left onto a lane (Chiddingstone Road), crossing the outflow from a lake on a stone bridge.
After passing the church tower up on the left the lane turns sharply left by a pedestrian entrance to Chiddingstone Castle. On days when it is open you could wander around its grounds and perhaps visit the Victorian Tearoom (at the back of the house). The Castle Inn is the first house on the right of the picturesque village street8, and a little further up (opposite St Mary's church9) the Tulip Tree tearoom is up a short driveway behind the Chiddingstone Stores.
If you are doing the Main Walk, go to §10.
Head east along the road to Larkin's Farm and continue along a footpath across the brow of Hampkin's Hill. Turn left in front of Vexour and go downhill to rejoin the road, crossing the River Eden at Vexour Bridge. Take the right-hand of two footpaths, heading north-east across meadows and fields to the station.
Follow the street out of the village, heading E. After passing the village hall and primary school there are two paths off to the right: one signposted to the Chiding Stone10 and then a public footpath.
Turn right and follow the signposted path for 200m, round the back of the school and village hall. There is an information panel by the large sandstone boulder. Return the same way.
The Short Walk 1 route continues along the lane, climbing gently and with good views of the Greensand Hills on your left. In 400m fork right at a road junction in front of Triangle Oast (with Larkin's Farm11 on your left). Almost immediately turn left at a footpath signpost onto a broad grassy path heading E across the brow of Hampkin's Hill, with fine views on both sides.
At the far end of the field, turn left along its edge. In the corner veer right down a narrow path through a belt of trees and turn left onto a tarmac driveway. At the bottom rejoin the minor road you left at Triangle Oast, crossing the River Eden (for the last time) on the attractive Vexour Bridge.
On the other side turn right off the road at a footpath signpost, going through a metal fieldgate. Take the right-hand of two faint grassy paths to head NE across a large field, going past a loop of the river. The path heads towards a metal fieldgate where there is a wide bridge over a stream in the trees, but the correct (and potentially less muddy) route is to aim for a narrow gap about 30m to its left where a concealed footbridge takes you over the stream.
Either way, head roughly N across the next field (turning half-left after crossing the footbridge, or straight ahead from the wide bridge) towards a gap in the trees on the far side, 125m away. Go over a stile into the right-hand field and continue in much the same direction for 400m along the left-hand edge of two fields, at first with a wire fence and then a line of trees on your left. At the end of the second field go over a stile into a large field and turn right to head E along its edge.
Take the footpath heading south out of the village, which soon merges with the Eden Valley Walk (EVW). Follow this south-east via Wat Stock, eventually crossing the River Eden into Penshurst. Unless you want to go directly into Penshurst Park, turn right onto the B2176 to enter the village.
Just after the path to the Chiding Stone, turn right off the village street onto the public footpath, heading S. This tree-lined path goes gently uphill past fields and a sports ground, emerging into the top of a large field. Follow a clear path slightly to the right down the field.
The pink house which you might be able to see through the trees 1 km ahead on your left is not what it seems, as you will discover later.
The path comes to the corner of a copse and bears left to go alongside it. In 50m follow it into the trees and immediately fork left onto a path along the edge of a lightly wooded area, still heading S. In 225m this merges with the Eden Valley Walk12 (EVW), a broader path coming in from the right; you will be following this waymarked route into Penshurst.
In 50m go through a kissing gate into a wood and continue along the main path for 400m, climbing gently at first. At the far end of the wood go over a stile and turn right briefly onto a minor road (Wellers Town Road). In 30m veer left onto a bridleway, going through a metal gate and across a field on a grassy path. On the far side leave through another gate and turn left onto a tarmac lane.
In 100m the view from a fieldgate on the left reveals that the ‘pink house’ seen earlier is a trompe-l'oeil, painted on the back of an old barn at Wat Stock.
After the lane bends left round a pond keep ahead past some old farm buildings (including the trompe-l'oeil). You now follow this potentially muddy track (the old coach road) all the way to Penshurst, with views over the Eden Valley on your left and later with a huge array of polytunnels behind the trees on your right. After a long descent the track merges with the driveway from Salmans Farms and you cross the River Eden for the last time. In a further 500m you reach the B2176, with Penshurst Place visible in the grounds ahead.
If you wish you can bypass the village, saving 500m. For this short cut, turn left and go along the road for 125m, crossing over at some point. Go through a metal kissing gate into Penshurst Park and take the left-hand of two footpaths, a grassy path going through a line of trees and then across the estate's private driveway via two more kissing gates. Carry on towards a tree-lined grassy avenue, merging there with the main route. If you take this short cut, continue the directions at [•] in the next section.
For the main route, turn right onto the road to enter the village. In 150m you come to the Fir Tree House tearoom on your right, the suggested tea place if you want to break for refreshment. The walk route continues round to the left at the road junction in the centre of the village, where stronger fare is available at the Leicester Arms Hotel on your right.
Briefly head east along the B2176 and turn left through Leicester Square and the churchyard into Penshurst Park. Head north past Penshurst Place and across its private driveway via two kissing gates. Follow the footpath north and then north-east through the estate, eventually coming out onto Penshurst Road near its junction with Cinder Hill Lane.
The first part of this section follows the route of Book 1 Walk 15 (in reverse).
From the centre of the village briefly head E on the B2176. Before the road turns right in front of the stone and brick archway for Penshurst Place, turn left into the picturesque Leicester Square13. Go under an archway14 at the back into the churchyard and take the path round the left-hand side of St John the Baptist church15 (which is worth visiting).
Leave the churchyard through a metal kissing gate and take the right-hand of two grassy paths ahead, staying close to the hedge-topped stone wall guarding Penshurst Place. After passing the manor house keep ahead on the main path, which then curves gently to the right. Cross the estate's private driveway via two metal kissing gates and continue along a tree-lined avenue, in 75m merging with another grassy path from the left (the short cut route).
[•] Where the two paths merge, follow a track through the right-hand line of trees and continue on a broad grassy path heading N, at first alongside the avenue and then moving slightly away from it. In 300m go through a kissing gate in a fence and turn right to continue across the parkland, soon alongside a wooden fence with a line of clipped yew trees on the other side. After going through another gate the path turns left past the lifeless trunk of the veteran Sidney Oak16 (with a plaque recording that it expired in 2016).
Follow the grassy path up a gentle slope, through a gate and then up a broad tree-lined avenue. At the top there is a three-way footpath signpost where you keep ahead through a wide gap in the trees, leaving the Book 1 route (Leigh station is 2 km away, along the avenue to the right). After going through the trees do not continue on the broad grassy path ahead but immediately fork right onto another grassy track. Follow this through the parkland for 500m, heading NE.
At the bottom of a dip go straight across an estate track to continue on a grassy track climbing through a lightly wooded area. In 250m the track passes a huge oak tree and turns half-left, dropping down to a T-junction at the edge of the estate. Turn left to come out onto Penshurst Road.
Turn left briefly onto Penshurst Road, then turn sharp right into Cinder Hill Lane. Follow this for 500m, then a footpath along field edges past Little Moorden to the B2176 at Moorden. Turn right onto this road and fork left onto the long station approach road to reach Penshurst station.
Turn left briefly onto Penshurst Road, cross over carefully and almost immediately turn sharp right into Cinder Hill Lane. Follow this narrow country lane down a slope, past a few houses and between fields and a wood for 500m, making several turns to the left. Where it turns right to cross over the Redhill–Tonbridge railway line, keep ahead briefly on the driveway to Little Moorden, signposted as a footpath.
In 100m, where it bends left and there is a fieldgate ahead, go over a stile between them to continue along the left-hand edge of a large field, parallel to the drive on the other side of a hedge. In 400m keep ahead through a fieldgate and continue along the edge of another field. In the next corner follow a grassy farm track into the trees on the left. In 100m go past some outbuildings and veer left onto a driveway going up a short slope and then round to the right, coming out onto the B2176.
Turn right and go along this main road for 125m, taking care there is no pavement. Where the road bends right after passing a converted oast house “Moorden” fork left onto a long straight lane (Station Hill). In 400m this bears right and leads into a small parking area for a timber yard.
- St Luke, Chiddingstone Causeway was built in 1898 in late Gothic style, replacing a small chapel when the village grew in size. It was constructed in Bath stone and has a particularly fine Altar window designed by the Impressionist British artist Wilfrid de Glehn.
- The large fields between Chiddingstone Causeway and Charcott are the site of Penshurst Airfield, which operated in WWⅠ and was also used as an emergency landing ground in WWⅡ. Between the wars it hosted a few air shows and took some civilian flights when Croydon Airfield was fogbound.
- Bore Place is a large organic dairy farm and also the site of a group of rural enterprises and educational trusts under the name Commonwork. Its 4¼ km Field Trail contains information panels describing how its varied landscapes and settlements have changed over the generations.
- Bough Beech Reservoir was created in the late 1960s by damming one of the many streams flowing down from the Greensand Hills to the River Eden. One of the displaced properties in the valley (Bayles Farmhouse) was rebuilt at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton, near Chichester.
- Bough Beech Nature Reserve is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. The partly-flooded woodland and patches of scrub around the shallow water at the northern end of the reservoir support a wide variety of wildlife, with up to 150 species of birds being recorded every year.
- Chiddingstone Nature Reserve is a small area of wet woodland managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. The only public access is on the footpath running through it.
- The River Eden has its source in the North Downs near Titsey and flows into the River Medway just outside Penshurst.
- The Streatfeild family sold the buildings of Chiddingstone village to the National Trust in 1939. As a consequence it remains largely unspoilt and has been used as a location in period films, eg. A Room with a View.
- St Mary, Chiddingstone contains many memorials to the Streatfeild family. On display is a Vinegar Bible of 1717, so called because in St Luke's Gospel, Chapter 20, “The parable of the vineyard” is written as “The parable of the vinegar”!
- The Chiding Stone is a large sandstone boulder after which the village is named. Nagging wives or wrongdoers were supposedly brought here and told off (chided) by the other villagers.
- The buildings at Larkin's Farm include a brewery, producing beer and cider. It was established in 1986 and moved to the family's farm a few years later.
- The Eden Valley Walk runs for 24 km, linking the Wealdway in Tonbridge with the Vanguard Way to the west of Edenbridge. There are only short stretches with convenient rights of way close to the River Eden and at its eastern end much of the route is actually alongside the River Medway.
- Some of the half-timbered and tile-hung houses around Leicester Square (named after a favourite of ElizabethⅠ) are Victorian imitations, like the post office house of 1850.
- “My Flesh also shall rest in Hope”, inscribed above the archway leading out of Penshurst churchyard into Leicester Square, is from Psalm 16:9.
- St John the Baptist, Penshurst dates from the 12thC, with the tower added in the 15thC. The Sidney Chapel contains many memorials and a fine armorial ceiling, restored in 1966. By the side altar is the Luke Tapestry (in Greek), made by Penshurst's former village doctor: it honours the partnership between medical science and Christianity.
- The Sidney Oak was reputedly planted in 1554 at the birth of Sir Philip Sidney, but is now believed to be many hundreds of years older. Acorns from this ancient tree have been taken all over the world, and cloned saplings are being planted around the Penshurst estate.
» Last updated: October 16, 2017