Length: 16.3km (10.1 miles) or 18.5km (11.5 miles) T=3.21
Toughness: 3 out of 10: gentle gradients
10.00 train from Charing Cross (10.03 Waterloo East, 10.09 London Bridge) to Sevenoaks, arriving 10.35.
For walk directions
. For GPX
You have to go back to the late Middle Ages (OK, September 2010) to find a time when this walk had a Saturday posting in anything approximating to summer. The midweek walkers - no slouches, they - did it in August 2016, however, and described it as a fine summer outing.
To anyone left in SWC-land who does not know it, the walk offers a charming mix of "Garden of England" scenery, including one area just after Stone Street where lavender fields
were in evidence earlier in the year: they may now have been harvested, however. You also pass through the Knole Park
estate out and back, and in the early afternoon have fine views southwards. There is a reasonable amount of shade
- maybe 40-50% of the walk.
The moated manor house of Ightham Mote
is at the heart of the main walk: at this time of year, you could even take time out to visit it, knowing you have infinities of daylight in which to finish the walk. Otherwise, its tea room
is the most convenient lunch stop
For a pub lunch a very early option, 2.4 miles into the walk, is the Bucks Head in Godden Green.
Otherwise, since the Padwell Arms is no no more, an optional new loop to the Chaser Inn in Shipbourne was added to the walk directions in February but has never actually had an outing with the SWC: this is the 18.5km (11.5 mile) version of the walk. Despite (or perhaps because of) a menu groaning in red meat (generous portions too - but vegetarian options so small you need a microscope to see them), this is a very popular pub, so you might want to phone and check they have a table before diverting to it. It does, however, have quite a large (and non-bookable) garden - very pretty, by the church - and serves food all afternoon.
For tea, Knole Park's Brewhouse Cafe closes at 5pm, the Malabar Cafe in Sevenoaks at 6pm, and Caffe Nero in Sevenoaks (if things get that desperate) at 6.30pm.
Trains back to London are very frequent - every ten minutes or so.