Main Walk: 15½ km (9.6 miles). Three hours 45 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8 hours.
Short Walk, omitting Hoath Corner loop: 9 km (5.6 miles). Two hours 5 minutes walking time.
Reverse Walk, from Leigh to Penshurst: 13½ km (8.4 miles). Three hours 15 minutes walking time.
Long Circular Walk, from Leigh Station: 18 km (11.2 miles). Four hours 25 minutes walking time.
Short Circular Walk, via Penshurst only: 8¾ km (5.4 miles). Two hours walking time.
Explorer 147. Penshurst Station (in Chiddingstone Causeway), map reference TQ519467, is in Kent, 7 km W of Tonbridge.
3 out of 10 (4 for the Long Circular Walk, 2 for the Short Walks).
The walks described here have been transferred and expanded from Extra Walk 78 (Cowden to Hever), with much of the sections to and from Leigh being taken from Book 1 Walk 19 (Hever to Leigh) and Book 1 Walk 15 (Leigh to Tunbridge Wells). Some of the Wealden territory around the Eden and Medway rivers will therefore be familiar, but these new routes are judged to be worthwhile because they take in a classic rural pub at lunchtime and some excellent tearooms.
Starting from Penshurst station (almost 3 km away from its village), the Main Walk goes through low-lying farmland in the Eden valley, crosses the river at Vexour Bridge and continues on an undulating route through typical Wealden countryside to the tiny settlement of Hoath Corner. After lunch in its rural pub the walk loops round to the north and east, crossing the outward leg at Wat Stock before descending to the village of Penshurst for tea. The main attraction here is Penshurst Place, a well-preserved medieval manor house with an attractive formal garden, the home of the Sidney family since the 16thC. It is open weekends from mid-February to March, and daily from April to October; admission (2017) is £11, or £9 for the gardens only. The final part of the walk is a shortened version of Book 1 Walk 19.
The Wealden soil does not drain well and parts of the walk can be muddy even after moderate amounts of rain.
As an alternative you could start from Leigh station, following the route in Book 1 Walk 15 through the Penshurst Place Estate and later joining the Main Walk route at Salmans Manor. In mid-afternoon at Hill Hoath you can either stick to the main route to complete a Circular Walk back to Leigh, or divert through Chiddingstone to finish at Penshurst station, a kind of Reverse Walk. The latter route goes past Chiddingstone Castle, a castellated manor house rebuilt in the 19thC which contains an unusual collection of art and curiosities left behind by its recent owner, Denys Eyre Bower. It is open Sun–Wed from April to October; admission (2017) is £9.50.
As both the Main and Circular Walks feature a crossover design you can simply cut out the outer loops to make two Short Walks. Either of these would be a good choice if you wanted to spend time visiting Penshurst Place.
The start of the Main Walk has been changed to avoid a somewhat unappealing route into Chiddingstone and so only the Reverse Walk now goes through this pretty village (although it does feature on several other walks). One result of the revised design is that the routes from Penshurst and Leigh now merge in mid-morning, simplifying the earlier version's bewildering set of route sections.
This walk no longer has a Penshurst Circular option, although in practice you could do this by switching to the Reverse Walk and retracing your outward leg from Vexour. A more satisfying circular route is included as an option in Extra Walk 235 (Tonbridge to Penshurst).
Penshurst and Leigh are adjacent stations on the Redhill–Tonbridge line, which has an hourly off-peak service. At most times there are direct trains from London Bridge via Redhill, but you can also take a fast train from Charing Cross or Cannon Street to Tonbridge and change there. In theory this indirect route is often quicker but you need to leave enough time to be sure of making the connection.
The suggested ticket for the linear walks is a day return to Leigh (Kent) if you travel out via Redhill and to Penshurst if you go via Tonbridge, although it probably makes no difference as the fares from London are the same to both stations and tickets are valid for both routes.
If you want to finish the walk in Penshurst village, Metrobus 231 & 233 combine to give a regular bus service (Mon–Sat) to Edenbridge in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other.
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. There is no car park at Leigh station but roadside parking is available.
Take the train nearest to 10:00 from London Bridge to Penshurst or Leigh as appropriate.
The intended lunch pub for all but the two Short Walks is the attractive Rock Inn (01892-870296) in the hamlet of Hoath Corner, after 6¼ km on the Main Walk or 7½ km on the alternative start from Leigh. This out-of-the-way pub has some outside seating at the front and a small back garden, but it had a long spell when it was not serving food so call beforehand if you plan to stop there.
As all the walk routes go through Penshurst you could get a pub lunch at the up-market Leicester Arms Hotel (01892-871617) or a light meal at the Porcupine Pantry (see below). However, this village is better placed on the two Short Walks and comes relatively early or late on the other walk options.
A late lunch stop is possible at Chiddingstone on the Reverse Walk. The Castle Inn (01892-870371) reopened in April 2017 and first impressions are very favourable: food and service were excellent and it has a lovely beer garden.
On the Main and Circular Walks there are two options for tea in Penshurst. In the centre of the village 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). A good alternative is the Porcupine Pantry (01892-870307), situated just outside the main entrance to Penshurst Place and open to non-visitors; it has indoor and outdoor seating and is open daily to 6pm.
There are also two good places in Chiddingstone on the Reverse Walk. The Tulip Tree (01892-871504) in Burghesh Court, behind the Chiddingstone Stores, is a popular tearoom which is open daily to 5pm. On days when Chiddingstone Castle is open you can visit its equally good Victorian Tearoom (01892-870347) and explore the grounds without necessarily paying to visit the house.
There are conveniently-placed pubs near both stations, but you might find the Fleur-de-lis (01732-832235) closed in mid-afternoon on your way to Leigh station. Across the road from Penshurst station (in Chiddingstone Causeway), the Little Brown Jug (01892-870318) is usually open all day.
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
|Copyright||© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml|
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 | Other )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (15½ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
For the walk options which begin at Leigh station, start at §3.
- Penshurst Station to Wellers Town (3 km)
- Wellers Town to Salmans Manor (1¼ km)
- Leigh Station to Penshurst (3¾ km)
- Penshurst to Salmans Manor (1¾ km)
- Salmans Manor to Hoath Corner (2 km)
- Hoath Corner to Hill Hoath (2 km)
- Hill Hoath to Penshurst (3½ km)
- Wellers Town to Penshurst (2¼ km)
- Penshurst to Well Place (1¼ km)
- Well Place to Leigh Station direct (2½ km)
- Well Place to Leigh Station via River Medway (3¾ km)
- Hill Hoath to Chiddingstone (1¼ km)
- Route along public roads
- Route via castle grounds
- Chiddingstone to Penshurst Station (2¾ km)
- Detour to the Chiding Stone (+250m)
Leave the station on its southern side and take a footpath initially heading west, then turn left onto one leading to Vexour Bridge. Cross the River Eden and continue on the footpath going past Vexour and Chantlers. Turn left onto a lane and follow it through Wellers Town.
If you arrived on a train heading towards Tonbridge, cross the tracks by the footbridge to the westbound platform. Leave the station on its southern side and veer right through a small parking area towards a wooden fieldgate. Cross a stile to its left and go along a farm track, with a tall hedge on your right. Continue in the same direction across the next field.
On the far side turn left along the field edge. In 150m turn right through a metal fieldgate, as indicated by a footpath marker. Go along the left-hand edge of a small field and cross a stile beside another fieldgate into a much larger field. Continue briefly along its left-hand edge, but in 100m go over a stile on your left to head S along the edge of another field, with a line of trees on your right. In 200m go through a gap and keep ahead, now with a wire fence on your right.
At the end of this field go over a stile into another field. If you continue in the same direction you will come to a wide bridge over a stream in a gap in the trees, but a slightly shorter (and less muddy) route is to head for the field corner to its right, where there is a footbridge over the stream. Head SW for 300m across the next field (turning half-right if you crossed the wider bridge), aiming to pass just to the right of a projecting group of trees.
On the far side go over a stile and turn left onto a lane to cross the River Eden1 on the attractive Vexour Bridge. On the other side the lane swings right but you keep ahead into the driveway to Vexour, signposted as a footpath and climbing gently. In 100m turn right off the driveway by another signpost and follow a short path up through a belt of trees into the corner of a large field. Keep left and go along the field edge, still climbing and passing the buildings of Vexour on your left.
In 150m a footpath signpost by a large oak tree offers a route off to the right but you keep ahead along the field edge. In a further 150m, however, turn right (with no signpost) and head towards the right-hand edge of some trees surrounding a few houses. On reaching these turn left to go alongside them for 60m, then turn right and make your way past the houses onto a long straight driveway. Follow this out to a lane and turn left onto it.
You now have 600m of road walking, eventually going through the hamlet of Wellers Town. About 75m after passing the last house, turn left off the lane at a footpath sign, going over a stile to the right of a metal fieldgate into a field. Across the hollow to the right you can see what looks like a long low building, but is actually a trompe-l'oeil: the back of a large barn at Wat Stock has been painted to resemble a manor house.
If you are doing the Short Walk, go to §8.
Turn left off the lane onto a footpath leading to Wat Stock. Continue on a bridleway heading south-east and then south to Salmans Manor.
Go across the grass, aiming a little to the left of the building and passing some isolated trees in the field. As you go down the slope you will see a footbridge over a ditch in the line of trees at the bottom. Cross this bridge and go through a metal kissing gate into a field.
For the Main Walk, make your way straight up the field towards the left-hand end of the building. Go through a metal fieldgate and turn right onto a farm track, passing the derelict barn. At the far end of the barn turn left onto a tarmac lane, passing some cottages. The lane goes through a small wood, veering right and left past a large pond, then continues between hedges. At the entrance to Abbotsmerry Barn follow it round to the right and down a long slope.
At the bottom you come to the buildings of Salmans Manor, with a large mill pond opposite a particularly attractive oast-house conversion. Shortly afterwards, where the lane curves left, turn right through a fieldgate (or a wooden side gate) onto a tree-lined track.
Continue the directions at §5.
Head south from the station along the road and turn right onto a footpath. Follow this through the Penshurst Place Estate, veering left after 1½ km to go downhill, past the lake and through Penshurst Park. Pass to the right of Penshurst Place and go through the churchyard to the B2176. Turn right onto the road to enter the village.
This section is the same as the start of Book 1 Walk 15.
From either platform at Leigh station, take the path down to the road and turn left. In 250m, at Paul's Hill House, turn right up a rough track which soon enters the Penshurst Place Estate. Where it comes to an open field, follow a grassy path across it to the far left-hand corner.
Continue in the same direction along a broad tree-lined avenue for 1 km, ignoring a footpath off to the right after 100m and another to the left after 500m. Eventually, where another footpath joins from the right, bear left downhill along another tree-lined avenue towards a lake, with Penshurst Place beyond.
After going through a gate, the right of way continues ahead for 150m and then turns half-right at a footpath signpost, but most walkers bear right onto a clear grassy path cutting off this corner. Go through a gate by the Sidney Oak2 and continue alongside a fence, with the lake and a line of clipped yew trees on the other side.
Follow the grassy path up to a kissing gate in the next fence. Go through this and head S across the parkland towards the right-hand side of Penshurst Place. After passing a cricket pitch on your left, cross a driveway flanked by two metal kissing gates. Continue towards the corner of Penshurst Place's hedge-topped stone wall and keep ahead with the wall on your left-hand side.
At the end of the wall, go through another kissing gate and follow a path through the churchyard of St John the Baptist church3 (which is worth visiting; its entrance is on the south side). Leave the churchyard through an archway4 and go past the picturesque houses in Leicester Square5 to the B2176. Turn right onto the road to enter the village, soon coming to the Leicester Arms Hotel (a possible early lunch stop) on your left.
If you are doing the Short Circular Walk, go to §9.
Head south-west out of the village on the B2188. At the school, turn right into a lane and follow this to the Warren. Keep ahead along a footpath which crosses the River Eden and continues to Salmans Manor.
Continue past the pub and keep left at the road junction in the centre of the village. Go along the B2188 for 200m, passing some attractive old buildings6. Immediately after passing the primary school, turn right into a lane (The Warren). Stay on this lane for 600m, eventually passing a row of cottages.
Where the lane ends, keep ahead down the right-hand edge of a large field. In the bottom corner go through a metal gate and veer right across the grass to a footbridge over the River Eden1. Cross this and continue on an enclosed path.
In 200m go through a metal kissing gate and turn right along a narrow fenced path. This takes you around two edges of a large field, with two more kissing gates along the way. After the second of these, do not continue on the broad grassy track ahead (with a tall hedge on its left), but turn right to head NW on another wide track.
The track soon comes to a tarmac lane by the buildings of Salmans Manor. Turn left briefly onto the lane, but instead of following it round to the right go through a fieldgate (or a wooden side gate) to continue in the same direction on a tree-lined track.
A short detour up the lane would give you a fine view of a large mill pond opposite a particularly attractive oast-house conversion.
Leave Salmans Manor on a footpath heading west, climbing gradually through fields, woods and the edge of Harden Vineyard. Soon after the path joins a track by Oakenden Farm, turn right and take the path through Puckden Wood to Hoath Corner.
Go along the track for 100m, with glimpses of the mill pond on your right. Just before a metal fieldgate leading into a large field, turn left through a kissing gate and climb a short flight of steps. This leads through another kissing gate into the field where you continue up its left-hand edge.
In 150m turn left through a wooden kissing gate into a small enclosure, leaving it by a metal kissing gate in the opposite corner. Bear right and go across a small fenced-in field to another gate. Go through this and turn right along the field edge, soon passing Harden Vineyard on your left. At the end of the field go over a stile and through some trees to a path T-junction. Turn right and follow the path as it bends round to the left.
In 100m you come to the edge of the wood and go over a stile into an attractive large field. Follow the enclosed tree-lined path up the right-hand edge of this field. At the top cross a stile onto a path through some trees, soon joining a driveway by the entrance to “Skipreed”.
The final part of this section needs some care. About 100m along this drive, opposite a house “Oakenden”, turn right up a few steps in the earth bank. Go over a stile and along the left-hand edge of a field (with a distant view of Penshurst Place away to your right). At the end of the hedge, go over a stile on the left into the corner of another field.
Follow the right-hand of two grassy paths across this field (moving slightly away from its left-hand edge). On the far side go over another stile and downhill through Puckden Wood. At the bottom of the slope, the path curves right and soon veers left to leave the wood. Climb a broad grassy path between fences, which leads into a driveway by some houses in the hamlet of Hoath Corner. Keep ahead to join a road and follow this round to the right at a junction to find the suggested lunch stop, the Rock Inn, on the right-hand side.
From Hoath Corner, take the lane heading west for a short distance and turn right onto a footpath which goes via Trugger's Gill to Stock Wood. Turn right at a path junction and follow this footpath through woods and fields to reach Hill Hoath.
From the pub, return to the road junction and fork right onto the narrow lane heading W, towards Markbeech. In 150m, turn right at a footpath sign to go down a path between fences. After passing some gardens and crossing a stream the path continues along the right-hand edge of two meadows, heading NW.
Just before the far corner the path veers right and goes down into a small wooded glen, then back up into the corner of another meadow. Keep right, initially alongside a projecting piece of woodland. Where these trees end, bear slightly right across the meadow to find a path on the far side leading into a large wood.
The woodland path comes to a T-junction with footpath markers where you turn right onto a potentially very muddy path. After it bends left pass to the right of a horse jump and continue on a path between hedges, now with fields on both sides.
At a path crossing near another horse jump, go through a metal kissing gate on the right and continue on a well-trodden grassy path for about 500m, heading NNE. At the end of the field go through another kissing gate, down a short slope to a gap in the hedge ahead and turn right onto an earth track. This leads into a short lane going through the hamlet of Hill Hoath, where you pass some houses (including a renovated half-timbered cottage) and reach a three-way road junction.
If you are doing the Reverse Walk and finishing at Penshurst station, go to §12.
Follow the Eden Valley Walk south-east from Hill Hoath via Wat Stock, eventually crossing the River Eden into Penshurst. Turn right on the B2176 to enter the village.
At the junction turn right, now on the Eden Valley Walk7 (EVW). Follow the lane as it heads S past a few more cottages and then bear left towards some farm buildings, ignoring another farm track going straight on past stables. After passing Hill Hoath Farm, keep to the left on a narrow path alongside a wire fence. Continue over a stile and briefly join a farm track, then veer right in front of some trees onto a faint grassy path, which soon becomes a clear straight path heading SE.
In 300m, soon after a narrow path joins from the left, go through a kissing gate into a wood. Continue along the attractive woodland path for 400m, climbing gently at first. At the far end go over a stile to emerge on a minor road. Cross the road and continue on a bridleway just off to the right, going through a metal fieldgate to head diagonally across a field on a grassy path. On the far side leave it through another gate and turn left onto a lane.
At a fieldgate on the left after 100m there is a view of the painted barn at Wat Stock (the trompe-l'oeil seen earlier on the Main Walk).
The lane bends to the left round a large pond. In a further 50m it turns right but you keep ahead onto an unsurfaced track past some derelict farm buildings, briefly reversing the outward route of the Main Walk.
You now follow this potentially muddy track (the old coach road) all the way down to Penshurst, with occasional views over the Eden Valley on your left and a huge array of polytunnels behind the line of trees on your right. After a long descent the driveway from Salmans Farms joins from the right and you cross the River Eden. In a further 500m you reach the B2176, with Penshurst Place visible in the grounds ahead. Turn right onto the road to enter the village.
In 150m you come to the Fir Tree House tearoom on your right, the first of several possible tea places. The walk route continues round to the left at the road junction in the centre of the village, where the Leicester Arms Hotel is on your right (the Porcupine Pantry is 600m further on, in the next section).
Continue the directions at §9.
Turn left off the lane onto a footpath heading towards Wat Stock, but in the hollow turn left to join the Eden Valley Walk further along. Follow this bridleway eastwards, eventually crossing the River Eden into Penshurst. Turn right on the B2176 to enter the village.
For the Short Walk, turn left along the bottom of the field. In the corner go through a belt of trees via a couple of stiles and turn half-right to go gently uphill across a field. In the middle of the far side two more stiles and a footbridge take you into another field where you follow a faint grassy path up the side of the slope, past a projecting group of trees and up to the top edge of the field. Go over a stile in the trees and turn left onto a broad track, joining the Eden Valley Walk7 (EVW).
In 150m you pass the Fir Tree House tearoom on your right (which is usually closed at lunchtime). Keep left at the road junction in the centre of the village to come to the suggested lunch stop on your right, the Leicester Arms Hotel.
Head east out of the village and go along the access road to Penshurst Place, signposted as the Eden Valley Walk. Continue on a private road towards Well Place Farm, which you skirt by taking a footpath up a field to its left.
This section picks up the route taken by Book 1 Walk 19.
Head E out of the village on the B2176 (ie. turn right if leaving the pub), briefly reversing the outward route of the Circular Walks. After passing Leicester Square5 the road turns right but you keep ahead through a stone and brick archway, now on Cycle Route 12 as well as the Eden Valley Walk.
As you go along the driveway to Penshurst Place you get a glimpse of its formal gardens through a locked gate in the high brick wall on your left. At the end of the wall the Porcupine Pantry is 200m off to the left, behind the large car park; if you are not visiting the tearoom or the manor house simply keep ahead on the tarmac drive (shown as a private road to Well Place, but still a public footpath). 400m after passing the car park exit and before the road starts to ascend, turn left through a squeeze gate into a field, leaving CR 12.
Go along the field edge parallel to the road, then through another squeeze gate. Follow a broad grassy path diagonally up the next field, heading NE (with a fine view of Penshurst Place over your left shoulder). At the top of the field there is a fieldgate leading out to a track.
If you are doing a Leigh Circular Walk (or want to do a longer ending on the Main Walk), complete the directions at §11.
Leave the Eden Valley Walk and head north for almost 1 km on the right-hand side of several large fields. At the end turn right and go along a tree-lined avenue and across a field to a minor road. Turn left and follow the road down to a bridge under the railway, with the station on the right.
Do not go out onto the track at the top of the field but instead bear left in front of the fieldgate, leaving the main branch of the EVW. Follow a grassy path along the right-hand edge of several large fields (interrupted by a short stretch through a wood) for almost 1 km. At the end of the last field bear right onto a broad grassy path heading NE.
For the final 1½ km you now follow (in reverse) the start of Book 1 Walk 15.
Continue in this direction for just over 1 km: initially along a tree-lined avenue, then across an open field and finally down a rough track to a road. Turn left and go down the road for 250m to a bridge under the railway, with two tarmac paths (one on each side) leading up to the platforms of Leigh station. On this side, Platform 1 is for trains to London via Redhill, but you can also return to London from Platform 2, changing at Tonbridge for a fast service via Sevenoaks.
There is no footbridge linking the two platforms, so check the timetable displayed here before deciding which platform to head for.
If you want some refreshment before the journey back, the Fleur-de-lis pub is 225m further along the road, where it meets the B2027.
Head north-east along a track. At Killick's Bank, turn right to go down to the River Medway and continue alongside it to Ensfield Bridge. Cross the river and continue on the Eden Valley Walk for a further 700m. Turn left to cross back over the river and take the footpath heading north towards Leigh. Go round the village green and turn left onto the B2027. At the Fleur-de-lis pub turn left and go along Lower Green to a bridge under the railway, with the station on the left.
This section continues the route taken by Book 1 Walk 19.
For the longer finish, go through a squeeze gate to the right of the fieldgate and head NE along a track. In 80m keep ahead where it joins a concrete lane, rejoining CR 12 for the next 600m. After passing an isolated house at Killick's Bank, veer right across a lane junction and go through a squeeze gate (or over a nearby stile) into a field. Follow a faint grassy path downhill, heading E. At the bottom of the field cross a wooden bridge over a backwater and go across the grass to the River Medway.
Turn left and walk along the riverbank until you reach a road at Ensfield Bridge. Turn right to cross over the river, rejoining CR 12 again. On the other side of the bridge turn left and follow the cycle route for about 400m. Where it bends left down a slope veer right through a wooden squeeze gate and continue in much the same direction for 250m, near the left-hand edge of a field.
If instead you choose to remain on the cycle route, turn left at a path crossing after a further 300m and resume the directions at [•] below.
On the main route you eventually go over a stile and a ditch into another large field, and now need to head back towards the cycle route you left earlier. Bear left across the field corner towards a gate, 25m away. Go through this onto a short path through some trees, then keep ahead at a path crossing (leaving the EVW, which continues with CR 12 on the long straight path off to the right, towards Tonbridge).
[•] Cross a bridge over a backwater and fork left on the main path, which soon comes to a substantial bridge over the main river. Cross this and go straight across a large field, heading NW. On the far side go through a wide gap in the hedge and continue along the left-hand side of the next field, aiming for a broad track which you can see going over an embankment up ahead. Leave the field through a kissing gate to join this track, which takes you through a tunnel under the railway.
Stay on the track for 100m, up a slope. Where it swings round to the left, go out onto a residential street (Green View Avenue) to continue in the same direction. This leads to Leigh's village green, with St Mary's church visible on a knoll on the far side. Turn left and make your way around two sides of the green to the B2027. Turn left and go along this main road for 250m, passing some attractive almshouses, the Village Stores, a restored water pump and several other interesting buildings.
Just after the Fleur-de-lis pub, turn left down a side road (Lower Green). In 225m you come to a bridge under the railway, with two tarmac paths (one on each side) leading up to the platforms of Leigh station. On this side, Platform 2 is for trains to Tonbridge, where you can change for a fast service to London via Sevenoaks; Platform 1 is for trains to London via Redhill.
Take the lane heading north to the entrance to Chiddingstone Castle. If the the castle grounds are open you could go through them to the village, otherwise continue along the road and turn right at the crossroads to reach the village.
At the junction keep left to head N on this quiet country lane. In 300m you pass a corner of Chiddingstone Castle's grounds on your right (with a locked gate), then in a further 400m come to its main driveway. The route through the grounds in §12b is not a public right of way but you could take this if they are open (there is an Honesty Box for donations).
The grounds are not very large but include a tearoom, an attractive lake and some pleasant woodland paths beyond the lawn at the back of the house.
Continue along the lane to a crossroads and turn right. In 250m this road bends right and crosses a stone bridge, with a view of the castle beyond the lake. In 150m there is a pedestrian entrance to the castle on the right (the exit for the alternative route) and the road turns sharply left.
Turn sharp right off the lane to go up the castle's driveway, which curves gently round to its main entrance. To go directly to the Victorian Tearoom without visiting the house and its collections, continue past the entrance and go all the way round the back of the house to find the shop and tearoom in the far corner.
Afterwards, return to the front of the house and turn right. Continue across an arm of the lake on a footbridge and follow the path as it curves round and leaves the grounds through a gate in the castle walls, emerging on a bend in the road.
At the bend in the road the Castle Inn is on the right, the first building on Chiddingstone's picturesque village street8. Opposite St Mary's church9 the Tulip Tree tearoom is up a short driveway behind the Chiddingstone Stores.
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. Cross Vexour Bridge and take the right-hand of two footpaths, heading north-east. After crossing a footbridge bear left to go across a field, then along the left-hand edge of two more. Turn right at a path junction and head alternately east and north across a few more fields to Penshurst station.
A little further along the village street, just before the primary school, you could make a short detour to see the Chiding Stone10.
Turn right towards the Village Hall and take the path between it and the school leading to the village's Community Garden. At the back of the garden go through a gate in the wooden fence and turn right onto a footpath to find the Chiding Stone, where there is an information panel. On the way back stay on the footpath to return to the street on the other side of the school.
Continue to head E along the road, climbing gently with good views of the Greensand Hills on your left. In 400m you pass Larkin's Farm11 on your left and the road forks in front of Triangle Oast.
If you are in a hurry you could take the left fork and stay on this road to Vexour Bridge (continuing the directions at [•] below), but the route described below is only slightly longer.
For the main route take the right fork briefly, then turn left at a footpath signpost onto a ridge path heading E across Hampkin's Hill, with fine views on both sides. At the far end of the field, turn left along its edge and go down to the bottom corner, where you veer right down a narrow path through a belt of trees. Turn left onto a tarmac driveway and follow this out to rejoin the minor road you left at Triangle Oast.
[•] Cross over the River Eden on the attractive Vexour Bridge. On the other side bear right off the road, going over a stile to the left of 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 usually less muddy) route is to aim about 30m to its left where there is a footbridge over the stream.
Either way, head roughly N across the next field (turning half-left after crossing the footbridge, or straight ahead from the wider 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. In the next corner go over a stile to the right of a fieldgate and continue up to another metal fieldgate. Go through this 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 wide gap to continue along a farm track, with a tall hedge on your left. At the end go over a stile beside a wooden fieldgate and through a small parking area to reach Penshurst station. On this side, Platform 1 is for trains to London via Redhill, but you could also cross the footbridge to Platform 2 and change at Tonbridge for a fast service to London via Sevenoaks.
If you want some refreshment before the journey back, cross the footbridge and go out to the B2027. The Little Brown Jug is directly opposite.
- The River Eden has its source in the North Downs near Titsey and flows into the River Medway just outside Penshurst.
- 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.
- The Sidney Chapel in St John the Baptist, Penshurst 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.
- “My Flesh also shall rest in Hope”, inscribed above the archway leading out of Penshurst churchyard into Leicester Square, is from Psalm 16:9.
- Some of the half-timbered and tile-hung houses around Leicester Square (named after a favourite of Elizabeth I) are Victorian imitations, like the post office house of 1850.
- The large horseshoe-shaped doorway in the quaint shop/garage is a relic of its days as the village smithy.
- The Eden Valley Walk runs for 24 km, linking the Vanguard Way to the west of Edenbridge with the Wealdway in Tonbridge. At its eastern end much of the route is actually alongside the River Medway, whereas there are only short stretches with convenient rights of way close to the River Eden.
- 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 Larkin's Brewery, which was established in 1986 and moved to the family's farm a few years later. Chiddingstone Cider is also produced here.
» Last updated: May 26, 2017