18.6km (11.6 miles)
With detour to lunch pub in Sevenoaks Weald: 19.6km (12.2 miles)
6 out of 10: quite hilly in places
OS Explorer 147, OS Landranger 188
The first mile of this walk is on suburban streets in Sevenoaks and then there is a two mile stroll across the deer park of Knole House. A slightly awkward section follows, crossing a busy A road, and then along a bridleway with noise from a nearby dual carriageway, though with fine escarpment views too.
Then the traffic noise ceases and you find yourself in a beautiful area of undulating fields and farms that is as lovely as anywhere in England. One of the two possible lunch pubs is in the village of Sevenoaks Weald, at the start of this section. The route then climbs in stages up onto the Greensand Ridge, with increasingly fine views to the south and a number of fine bluebell woods in late April to early May.
Once on the ridge you are plunged into woods that in late April and early May are awash with bluebells - this is one of the best places in the South East to see them. You end up at the picturesque hill top village of Ide Hill, where the second of the lunch pubs is situated.
After this the route turns north-west, passing through the National Trust's Emmetts Gardens on a public footpath that also runs right past its tea room. The final section of the walk is in the woodlands of The Chart, before a fine descent down a hill into the village of Westerham which has plenty of tea possibilities and London Transport buses back to London.
There are several trains an hour from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge to Sevenoaks, taking 30-35 minutes from Charing Cross, 22 minutes from London Bridge. Which you take depends on where you aim to have lunch. It is 12.8km (8 miles) to the Cock Inn in Ide Hill, and so if you intend to eat there get a train not much later than 9.30am. If aiming to eat in The Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald, you could potentially get a train as late as 10.30am.
At the end of the walk, Westerham is not on the railway, but it is served by a London Transport bus, the 246, which runs at least hourly till midnight seven days a week (twice an hour until 6pm Monday to Saturday). You can use Oyster cards on this bus, and will be charged just the normal single London bus fare for the whole journey. LT travelcards are also accepted. The bus takes 43 minutes to get to Bromley South station, from where there are frequent (20 minutes) trains to Victoria. A day return to Sevenoaks is valid on this service, as Bromley South is on the Blackfriars-Oxted route to Sevenoaks.
You can also get off the 246 bus at Hayes station (31 minutes from Westerham), from where there are trains every fifteen minutes to London Bridge and Cannon Street or Charing Cross, taking 38 minutes, but your Sevenoaks return will not be valid for this.
There is also a 401 bus from Westerham to Sevenoaks station. Currently this goes at 13 minutes past the hour until 19.13 Monday to Saturday, and at 16.32 and 18.37 on Sunday. This bus takes 23 minutes and so would give you about the same journey times to central London as taking the 246.
|Lunch and Tea||
The Brewhouse Cafe at National Trust-owned Knole Park is a possible coffee stop 2.7km/1.7 miles into the walk. It also serves "light lunches" 11.30am-3.30pm and hot food 12-2.30pm.
The Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald (01732 463330),7.8km (4.8 miles) into the walk and requiring a 1km diversion off the main walk route, is a pleasant and comfortable pub, which has a varied and high quality food menu. It has 46 seats inside, 30 on its patio, so it is a good idea for groups of over 10-15 people to ring to book. Food is served 12-2.30pm on Monday to Saturday and 12-4pm on Sunday.
The Cock Inn in Ide Hill (01732 750310), 12.8km (8 miles) into the walk, is a characterful, popular and reasonably capacious pub with a good food menu, served from 12-9pm Monday to Saturday (ie, all afternoon) and 12-7pm Sunday. It has some outside tables, looking out onto the village green.
Ide Hill has a Community Shop at the place indicated in paragraph 68 of the directions. which serves hot drinks, soup and other snacks, and has a couple of outside tables when the weather is fine. It seems to be open daily.
The tea room at National-Trust run Emmetts Garden, 14.7km (9.1 miles) into the walk, is a possible early tea stop or late lunch stop (it serves soup and sandwiches). It is open until 5pm from March to October, and until 4pm in November and early December - see www.nationaltrust.org.uk for details
On the green in the centre of Westerham the Tudor Tea Rooms are open until 5pm daily (in summer at least), while Food for Thought at the east end of the green does cream teas and cakes until 5pm daily. Costa Coffee at the west end of the green, is open till 7pm Monday to Friday and 6pm at weekends. Close to it is the Grasshopper on the Green pub, and Westerham also has other fine pubs.
For picnics, the green outside The Windmill in Westerham is pleasant enough, but a diversion off the main walk route. If you can wait, there are some fine spots in paragraphs 43 (at the top of the field) 52 and 53 of the walk directions. The green at Ide Hill is also very pretty
|Credits||Completely rewritten in 2013 from an original walk © A J Kennedy 2007|
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Out (not a train station)
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk