Staplehurst to Headcorn or Cranbrook walk

An easy walk through fields in the Kentish Weald, with some fine bluebell woods en route, and an option to visit Sissinghurst Gardens (NT).


Bluebell wood


07-May-06 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

nature walkicon swcwalks aprilbluebellbluebellswoodsspring swcwalk80 16602100290

Wood anenomes Staplehurst to Headcorn

Wood anenomes

Staplehurst to Headcorn

04-Apr-09 • moontiger on Flickr

book3 walkicon swcwalks staplehurstheadcorn walk80 3412192623

Celandine Staplehurst to Headcorn


Staplehurst to Headcorn

04-Apr-09 • moontiger on Flickr

book3 walkicon swcwalks staplehurstheadcorn walk80 3413010622

Oilseed rape Staplehurst to Headcorn

Oilseed rape

Staplehurst to Headcorn

23-Apr-11 • moontiger on Flickr

book3 walkicon swcwalks walk80 5649088918

Bluebells Staplehurst to Headcorn


Staplehurst to Headcorn

23-Apr-11 • moontiger on Flickr

book3 walkicon swcwalks walk80 5649103220

Bluebell wood in Kent MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Bluebell wood in Kent


07-May-06 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk80 16088675212

Wood anenomes Staplehurst to Headcorn

Wood anenomes

Staplehurst to Headcorn

04-Apr-09 • moontiger on Flickr

book3 swcwalks staplehurstheadcorn walk80 3412194509


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.

Updated: Sat, 22-Jan-22

Date # Post
Sun, 30-Jun-19 4

Sunday Walk: Staplehurst to Headcorn ... or Sissinghurst .... or both

SWC Walk 80, Difficulty 2 out of 10
Staplehurst to Headcorn 12.8km (7.9 miles)
Staplehurst to Sissinghurst 12.6km (7.8 miles)
Staplehurst to Headcorn via Sissinghurst 19.8km (12.2 miles)
An easy walk in the Kentish Weald. The basic walk is Staplehurst to Headcorn but you can divert to Sissinghurst Castle, famous for the gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West. If you want to spend time in the gardens, there’s a bus back to Staplehurst every two hours - or - you can complete a longer walk to Headcorn.
Trains: Get the 9:40 Dover Priory train from Charing Cross (London Bridge 9:49) arrives Staplehurst 10:44.
Return to Charing Cross from Headcorn at xx:14 and xx:44. Get a return to Headcorn.
The Camra-recognised Bell and Jorrocks, Frittenden (01580 852415) for the basic walk. The village once sought fame for its non-existent treacle mines.
Or, the National Trust Restaurant at Sissinghurst Castle (The restaurant can be accessed without paying the entrance fee).
Tea: In Headcorn you have the George and Dragon and the Village Tea rooms (closes 4:30), both on the High Street.
Sissinghurst. Entry to Sissinghurst Castle's gardens costs £13.80 unless you're an NT member. If you want to get the bus back, it's a 30 minute walk to the stop, following paragraphs 86-97 in the directions. The two-hourly number 5 bus leaves for Staplehurst at 13 :12 15:12 and 17:12 (last one). These arrive at the station at xx:25 to meet trains at xx:48. You can also walk a further 1.6 miles from Sissinghurst to Cranbrook and catch the same bus at 13 :04, 15:04 and 17:04.
Walk Directions here
With no visible group gathering on the platform at Staplehurst it was only a chance glimpse of a couple looking at walking notes that ensured a group of 4 walkers set off. Much cooler than Saturday our group benefited from a mix of bright and hazy sunshine with the occasional cloud. We made good progress to the lunchtime pub where we were met with friendly service and good quality food (though a longish wait). Despite the best efforts of the whole group we just couldn't initially work out the later section of the walk from point 49 onwards and had to ask some locals who were kind enough to show us a map. Though we didn't add much distance to the walk we did lose a lot of time. Tested but not testy we eventually got back on track (with the help of a fancy phone) and made it to Headcorn just after 17:00 for a restorative drink (and cake) in the George and Dragon before just making the 17:44 train back. An enjoyable walk in good company. (Thanks due to the walk poster and all the public spirited volunteers that maintain the SWC.)
Sun, 29-Jul-18 1

Sunday Walk: Staplehurst to Headcorn with Sissinghurst option

SWC Walk 80
Staplehurst to Headcorn 12.8km (7.9 miles)
Staplehurst to Sissinghurst 12.6km (7.8 miles)
Staplehurst to Headcorn via Sissinghurst 19.8km (12.2 miles)
Difficulty 2 out of 10
An easy walk in the Kentish Weald. The walk can be extended to Sissinghurst Castle, famous for the gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West. From there you can either complete a longer walk to Headcorn or, if you want to spend time in the gardens, there’s a bus back to Staplehurst every two hours.
Trains: Get the 9:40 Dover Priory train from Charing Cross (London Bridge 9:49) arrives Staplehurst 10:42.
Return to Charing Cross from Headcorn at xx:14 and xx:44. Get a return to Headcorn.
The Bell and Jorrocks, Frittenden (01580 852415) for the basic walk.
Or... The National Trust Restaurant at Sissinghurst Castle (The restaurant can be accessed without paying the entrance fee).
Tea: In Headcorn you have the George and Dragon and the Village Tea rooms (closes 4:30), both on the High Street.
Sissinghurst. Entry to Sissinghurst Castle's gardens costs £13.15 unless you're an NT member.
To continue to Headcorn from Sissinghurst, follow the Sissinghurst to Bubhurst section (p10) then Bubhurst to Headcorn (p5). (see comments below)
If you want to get the bus back from Sissinghurst, it's a 30 minute walk to the stop, following paragraphs 86-97 in the directions. The number 5 leaves for Staplehurst at 13 :13 15:13 and 17:13 (last one). These arrive at the station at xx:26 to meet trains at xx:48. If you walk on to Cranbrook, a further 1.6 miles, the same bus leaves there at 05 past the same hour.
Walk Directions here
The route from Sissinghurst to Headcorn (just this particular option: not the rest of the route and not the Frittenden to Headcorn direct route) is a bit difficult in places. I suspect that some of the paths are rarely used and I have thought of removing this route from the directions altogether as a result. As it is, it stays in but I recommend that if you want a longer walk from Sissinghurst you go to Cranbrook or even Goudhurst as described in the walk document. This caveat apart, this is an excellent walk and I recommend it.
There don't seem to be any buses from Goudhurst on a Sunday, so probably best not to finish there.

Oh yes. I knew there was another reason I kept the Sissinghurst to Headcorn directions. Thanks for reminding me.
Well, in that case, I reverse my former advice. The Sissinghurst to Headcorn route is mostly straightforward, but with just a couple of tricky bits where the route is a bit indistinct. In one place just before Bubhurst a stile has got completely overgrown and another is missing. I have indicated an alternative that involves hopping fieldgates but the legality of this is questionable. Are you entitled to take a nearby route that is not a right of way when the right of way has become overgrown? Any lawyers please comment.
If you stray off the right of way then technically you are trespassing but the advice from the Ramblers is "if you can easily go round the obstruction without causing any damage, then you should do so".

The correct long term course of action is to report problems with rights of way (obstructions, needing maintenance, etc) to the local authority, either directly or through the Ramblers "Pathwatch" scheme. It might not be fixed quickly but if the authority doesn't know about it, then nothing will ever happen. See report path features and problems.aspx.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sorry, me again. If you are using the GPX, note that there is a new housing estate being built just at the start of this walk. The early part of the path therefore currently crosses the building works. Details of the situation a couple of months ago are given in the walk directions pdf (dated 7 June: PLEASE USE THIS LATEST VERSION OF THE DIRECTIONS, not one you printed off three years ago). You are soon free of this and the rest of the walk is very nice.

I'd had the roofers in on Saturday (just in time) so I decided to nip down to Staplehurst and give Mr. T's Sunday offering a go.
Just me (1) on this blustery and drizzly day (what a difference a day makes).
The housing development at the start of the walk has become immense: now AKA The Redrow "Woodlands Green" development.
Whilst there appears there has been some effort to divert the public footpath, it is impossible to find a way through as fencing panels have been placed too close to thickets.
I will raise a case on the Ramblers Pathwatch app and write to the local Council to see what their intentions are for the footpath's long term future.
In the mean time may I suggest the following diversion:

Section 3

In 100 metres turn right into Newland Drive. In 60 metres, ignore the left hand turning to Fischers Close, but in a further 60 metres follow the road as it turns left.
In 80 metres turn right into Hurst Close.
After a further 400 metres at the junction with Headcorn Road, turn left.
In 400 metres pass the The Redrow "Woodlands Green" development on the left and Pile lane (now closed to traffic)

Continue the walk at Section 10

While this diversion isn't through open countryside, it goes through a reasonably mature housing estate. As Walker points out, well worth it as the remainder of the walk is very pleasant, and the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle can be spectacular (free to NT Members)

Sat, 12-May-18 14

Saturday Walk: A Saturday stroll through the Kentish weald from Staplehurst to various destinations

SWC Walk 80: Staplehurst to Headcorn, Sissinghurst, Cranbrook or Goudhurst T=SWC.80
Distance: Various lengths on offer:
Staplehust to Headcorn: 7.9 miles/ 12.8 km
Staplehurst to Sissinghurst: 7.8 miles/ 12.6 km
Staplehurst to Cranbrook: 9.4 miles/ 15.2 km
Staplehurst to Goudhurst: 13.6 miles/ 22 km

Difficulty: 2 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:40 AM Dover train from London Charing Cross (stopping at Waterloo East at 9:42 and London Bridge at 9:48), arriving at Staplehurst at 10:39. Return trains from Headcorn are at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour until 21:45; from Staplehurst (for the Cranbrook or Sissinghurst endings) 20 and 50 minutes past the hour until 21:50 and from Marden (for the Goudhurst ending) 24 and 54 minutes past the hour.

For the Cranbrook or Sissinghurst endings, you will need to catch an Arriva 5 bus back to Staplehurst at 17:10, 18:21 or 18:55 from Cranbrook or 17:18; 18:29 or 19:01 from Sissinghurst. For the Goudhurst ending, you need to catch a bus 27 to Marden at 17:15 -- alternatively, you can catch a bus 297 to Tunbridge Wells at 18:11 or going the opposite way to Cranbrook at 18:31 (where you would then catch the Arriva 5 bus to Staplehurst at 18:55). Buy a day return to Staplehurst unless walking to Headcorn (in which case you should buy a day return to Headcorn). If you find your self in Tunbridge Wells, you may need to buy a supplement to cover part of the journey (Tunbridge Wells to Tonbridge).

After the exertions of the bank holiday, this is a relaxing walk through the Kentish weald of varying lengths to hopefully suit most interests. Although many of the botanical delights will be past their prime, the route still passes through pretty countryside with the option of visiting Sissinghurst Gardens. You can find more information about the walk and the instructions here.

The recommended lunch spot is The Bell and Jorrocks in Frittenden (01580 852 415) about 4.4 miles into the walk. Tea options include: the NT café at Sissinghurst Gardens or in Headcorn, the George and Dragon; in Cranbrook, Ted’s Room or George Hotel; in Sissinghurst village, the Milk House and in Goudhurst, the Star and Eagle Hotel or the Vine Inn.

Enjoy the walk!
Drippy is the word I would use for the weather. Occasionally there were showers, sometimes it was dry and even seemed to be brightening, but mostly there were just little drips of rain. Oh well. I suppose the countryside needs some moisture to keep it looking lovely and lush, which is definitely how it did look.

14 assembled at the start of the walk including two newbies and two visitors from California. We all had an early shock in discovering that a large housing estate is being built across the first section of this walk. To tell the truth this was always a rather awkward bit of the path indistinct and poorly maintained. Now it will probably be a tarmac path between high fences.

Otherwise it was interesting to do this walk, normally scheduled for bluebell time, in mid May. There was lots of cow parsley hemming in the paths and hawthorn blossom in the hedgerow. Some nice buttercup fields too. After lunch we had to wade chest high through an oilseed rape field, sadly (or happily, depending on your taste) nearly gone over. It was not that there was no path across this field, I hasten to add, just that the oilseed had grown so tall that it obscured it.

Lunch at the Bell & Jorrocks was fine. We were their only customers as far as I could see. After lunch the newbies split off to go to Headcorn and the rest of us went onto to an oddly quiet Sissinghurst (the National Trust place). Most of us had tea here and the Californians and their host stopped to see the gardens. One walker had proclaimed earlier that she planned to do the long route to Headcorn but whether she did or not, I do not know.

On the walk from Sissinghurst to Sissinghurst village there was the nice surprise of a large area of bluebells, still more or less full out the last we will see this year, I guess. Five got the 4.13 bus from Sissinghurst village (as later on did the three who had gone to the gardens), so along with the two newbies who went to Headcorn that makes ten walkers out of fourteen who opted for a 7.9 mile walk. (I mention this merely in the spirit of scientific enquiry).

Three of us carried on to Cranbrook, by which time the rain was starting to look more organised. We had a rapid drink in the George and got the 5.05 bus, picking up the three garden visitors en route.
Sat, 09-Dec-17 14

Saturday Walk Staplehurst to Headcorn

Saturday Walk Staplehurst to Headcorn T=swc.80

This morning of this walk is an easy stroll through fields and woods in the Low Weald of Kent. After lunch at Frittenden you then carry on over low-lying fields to the pretty Kent village of Headcorn,

Length: 7.9miles (12.8km) 2 out of 10

Trains: Get the 0940 Dover train from Charing Cross (London Bridge 0948), arriving Staplehurst at 1039. Buy a return to Headcorn (the next stop on this line). Return trains are xx15 & xx45.

Lunch: The Bell and Jorrocks, Frittenden (01580 852415) Good idea to ring.
Tea: In Headcorn High Street, you have the George and Dragon, the Village Tea rooms and the Kings Arms.

12 got off of the train and we were then joined by two others who had taken different trains so 14 on the walk altogether
Weather bright sun but right cold all day with the frost hanging around in patches throughout
This was an emotional roller coaster of a walk so although only a 2 on the toughness scale spiritually we suffered horrendously for the first hour and then we hit a high for the rest of the day. The cause of the angst was the closing and boarding up of the Bell and Jorrocks pub as reported by a fellow walker who had just driven from the St Leonards area past the pub on the way to meet us at the station. We were all a bit deflated, to put it mildly, by this news no Bell and Jorrocks would mean that this walk would be a no no in future and the Bell and Jorrocks had been a great pub which we were very sorry to see close.
Anyway duly forewarned we went to a local newsagent and we stoically stocked up on sandwiches and assorted nibbles ( several even bought chocolate bars ) for a picnic lunch. Curiously the chap who had warned us of the closing of the pub got on very well with the woman in that corner shop that he had suggested but he does seem to get on well with most people.
We set off in low spirits, hardly talking, all looking inside ourselves for a reserve of strength to carry on with the walk only to meet another walker about an hour later only to be told that she had rung the Bell and Jorrocks and they were, ONLY, waiting to find out how many were, only, expecting lunch howls of delight and some dancing in that field on that day the like of which you have never seen before was had ( if Mr M Tiger was with us he would have written a folk song about it I am sure ) whilst said walker rang the pub and booked a table.
8 had lunch at the Bell and Jorrocks which was fabulous and good and extremely reasonable prices and a varied selection and the pub was warm and welcoming and a true delight and had a roaring stove, albeit it at the other end of the pub away form our table and blocked out by the locals. What a glorious time we had, it was really like Christmas.
Fortified by the food and warmth we set off in the cold and did the last 5 km odd across some somewhat muddy fields to the Village Tea Rooms in Headcorn where tea and cake was had. On our table two of the cakes we're a bit disappointing light and dry and flavourless sponge, whilst the third a light fruit cake got the thumbs up.
Off to the train station and a kip back to London Bridge for some whilst others chattered least said soonest mended I said ‘ least said ‘.
The moral of this story is don’t trust a drivers fleeting glance.
Long live the Bell and Jorrocks
Divine Dish ( Miss )

Well for three of us the emotional rollercaster actually kept rolling throughout the day. While others might have been depressed about their picnic lunch and with their heads on the path, my good friend M, an architectural historian, and I stopped at lenghth at Staplehurst Church to admire the Pisan Pillars, the anchorite cell (brrrr) and most importantly (please add to walk notes) a medieval door with very old, possibly Norman, ironware with beautiful forms like a dragon. This door is halfway on the South side behind a heavy curtain; you can open it by sliding a heavy bolt and lifting the latch. Here we were joined by another walker L who had gone wrong at an earlier turning point and was an equal admirer of old churches so we made a happy trio for the day to come. Having topped up my flask with hot coffee in the local pub for the picnic later on (we were oblivious to the good news that the pub was open but as you will notice later there would not have been enough time in the day to pay it a visit anyway). The next 30 minutes or so was spent happy walking and path finding which was made quite difficult because it was invisible in the wet, grassy field. Then we discovered my friend had lost a much needed walking stick, so L very kindly offered to retrace our steps; that took a good 20 minutes. M and I decided to have our lunch in the middle of the path in the wet field while waiting. This caught the eye of a curtain twitching Boggis nearby who stormed over asking 'What on earth are you doing on my path? 'Well, Sir', I answered politely, 'waiting for a kind friend who is searching for a lost walking stick and, being hungry, eating my sandwich and having a coffee' (it was 1.15pm after all). 'You are not allowed to have a picnic on a walking path; you can only walk here!', Boggis barked at us. Is this true? I have no idea. It was hardly Glyndebourne with tables, chairs & the family silver but me sitting on a small plastic bag to keep my bum dry on a muddy field. My friend M, only 4"4' tall started arguing with the 6" farmer about the validity of his statement and I gave her some hard looks and assured farmer we would be gone before sunset (he was definitely not amused at this point). After 20m we decided to walk on as slowly as we could without falling over to give L a chance to catch up, keep warm and avoid ending up at the end of a pitch fork. Soon L appeared with no stick but was tanked profusely and we trotted on finding it really hard to follow any path. We ended up on the wrong side of a small wood and I could see how to get us on the correct path by some 'light' trespassing, climbing under some barbed wire (cleverly installed by Boggis; he must have shares in a barbed wire firm, never seen so much of it around his various fields) and then over some and walking 50/100 m through some very light wood. easy peasy, if you do it regularly. This was not approved of by M nor L so they tried to find the correct path of getting to the other side. This took another half an hour while I paced up and down the other side in the sunshine on a lovely ridge. What I then discoverd that said Boggis had also managed to lock the gate on a legal footpath to go in and out of this little wood at point N5108804 EO33.912 9please report if you know how to do this). So you now have to climb over it, a problem for my 4"4' friend. However, suddenly after 30 m or so M & L popped up behind me to much mutual rejoicing and we then walked on till the next church at Frittenden, which we paid a short visit. Remarkably without further incidents worth mentioning we arrived at 4.20pm, just before closing time, at the lovely church in Headcorn with a very old and original wooden screen from before the Reformation. Got some tea in Cafe Costa for the train back and met three fellow walkers on the platform. An eventful but wonderful day out recommended for longer days if you wish to visit churches and have lunch in the Bell & Jorrocks.
I am glad to hear that the Bell & Jorrocks has not closed it would, agreed, have been a sad loss.

As for "Boggis" (a new word for me), if it is the field I am thinking of, there is no defined path across it, just a right of way. I am no lawyer so have no idea whether you are allowed to picnic in such a field, but I know the type of person you are describing, and they are a nuisance. If it is the field I am thinking of, I never cross it without some nervousness. This is just one of those farms that somehow emanates unfriendly vibes towards walkers without having to do anything. Occasionally the field has over curious beef cattle in. I am always happy to gain the bluebell wood beyond. If there were another viable route I would use it, but sadly there is not not without missing the bluebell wood too.

I cannot make sense of your grid reference, if that is what it is, so I can't locate the locked gate you describe. Is it on the walk route? If so, the paragraph number in the directions it is in would be helpful. In general, if you discover blocked paths, try informing the county council. I seem to remember that Kent has an online facility to report such things. Or google Kent County Council Public Rights of Way Officer and see what comes up.

Re Staplehurst church and its attractions: I will update the walk document at some point, but there is a big heap of corrections and updates to various walks to process and this one will have to wait its turn....

The walk author
The locked gate on the footpath signed right of way was I think in para 25. MG
The 'Boggis' referred to in the second walk report is the cruel, slow witted farmer from 'Fantastic Mr Fox.'
The Ramblers website is a useful resource for advice on walking issues: see of way law in england and wales/basics of rights of way law.aspx. You have the legal right to "pass and repass along the way", which has been interpreted as allowing you to stop to rest or admire the view, and to consume refreshments (as long as you don't stray from the path or cause an obstruction). It's worth knowing your rights if you have this kind of unpleasant encounter.
I have now checked the correct grid reference TQ 795417 and will report it to the Ramblers with whom I am in contact. It's on the South side of the wood where it is at its most narrow. Maybe this walk should be posted again in the summer and then checked again.
The location I mentioned in the main walking report N5108804 EO33.912 is latitude and longitude. Not every country has such fine Ordnance Survey maps as the UK. A more universal system is latitude (your position north or South of the equator) and longitude (your position East or West of Greenwich). This reference will tell anyone anyone, including yourself, where you are in case of emergency or if you are simply lost/off track. Any good gps will tell you these data and with a local good map you can then pinpoint your location.
Looking at the grid reference, I think there is supposed to be a stile next to this gate. Maybe the problem is that the stile has disintegrated (or been removed).

The walk author
Sat, 01-Apr-17 27

Saturday Walk - A gentle stroll through the Kentish spring

Wood anemones near StaplehurstSWC Walk 80a - Staplehurst to Sissinghurst or Cranbrook

Length: - to Sissinghurst: 12.6km (7.8 miles)
- to Cranbrook: 15.2km (9.4 miles)

- map-led extension to Goudhurst: + 5.6km (3.5 miles): see end of walk post

Toughness: 2 out of 10 (4 out of 10 to Goudhurst)

9.40 train from Charing Cross (9.49 London Bridge) to Staplehurst, arriving 10.39

Buy a day return to Staplehurst

For walk directions, click here. A new version of this document, dated 29 March 2017, was uploaded on Wednesday morning: it has a (hopefully) easier to use layout than the old version.

This variation on the Staplehurst to Headcorn walk has only ever had one little midweek walk outing a year ago, which is a pity, as it is pretty and interesting. It also makes an ideal spring walk, with plenty of flowers en route.

The morning is the same as the Staplehurst to Headcorn walk - a gentle walk through pleasant Kentish countryside. The grand bluebell wood mid morning will not alas be out yet, but a compensation is several nice displays of wood anemones (see photo), including one shortly after Staplehurst church and another just after Sissinghurst. There are also lots of other spring flowers on this walk - cuckoo flowers, primroses, wood sorrel, etc.

Lunch is at the Bell and Jorrocks pub in Frittenden, a small and quirky place, which can be thrown by large groups of walkers turning up: but if you treat it nicely it does nice food and has accommodated us well in the past.

Alternatively, it is only 1.8 miles further to Sissinghurst, whose tea room does (somewhat small-portioned) hot meals until 3pm. Also not entirely impossible, though late in the walk, is the Milk House pub in Sissinghurst Village, after 7.4 miles: fast walkers aiming for Goudhurst (see below) might find this very convenient.

In the afternoon you pass Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, the National Trust property, and can visit it if you wish. It is a short walk (through a wood anemone wood) from the property to Sissinghurst Village, where you can get the number 5 bus back to Staplehurst station (full details of bus stop location given in the walk directions) at 59 past the hour until 17.59 and then 19.01.

Alternatively it is only 1.6 miles more to carry on to the very charming and picturesque town of Cranbrook, where there are various tea options, a windmill, and where the same bus leaves at 53 past until 17.53 and then 18.56.

The buses take you all the way to Staplehurst station (don't get off a mile earlier in the village centre), from where trains leave at 20 and 50 past. (The bus is timetabled to arrive at 12 past, so hope it is on time and be quick about crossing the large car park to the train station platform.)

*** MAP-LED EXTENSION TO GOUDHURST: This is just a "serving suggestion": three of us did this last year and it worked well: using a map, you can follow the High Weald Landscape Trail westwards from Cranbrook to Goudhurst, a very pleasant undulating walk of 5.6km (3.5 miles) that is mostly on easy-to-navigate tracks. Goudhurst is a very pretty hilltop village and the Star and Eagle pub (the HWLT leads to its back door) serves tea in pots.

Buses back from Goudhurst are limited, however: the best one would be the 17.15 number 27, which takes you to Marden station (the stop before Staplehurst, so your train ticket is valid from there) in just ten minutes. The only other option is the 297 at 18.11 - a 45 minute ride into Tunbridge Wells, where you will probably have to buy a single rail ticket to Tonbridge for your return home.

Both buses are reached by emerging from the FRONT door of the Star and Eagle, turning left downhill on the main road to a major crossroads in the village centre and then taking the road sharp right: the bus stop is at the start of this road on the left.

28 on this walk, or rather 27 because one (a newbie, who came with a friend) mysteriously dropped out after 200 metres. The rest of us encountered one light shower early on, but after this it was mainly sunny, albeit a little chilly in the wind when we tried to sit outside.

Abundant wood anemones in particular a glorious display between Sissinghurst and Sissinghurst village and blackthorn blossom turning hedgerows white. A big surprise was bluebells coming out in large numbers in the big wood mid morning. This is often an early bluebell wood, but even so. The Bell & Jorrocks pub had no trouble fitting us in we were their only lunch customers, I think. Massive portions and credit to them for coping politely with their "first vegan customer in eleven years".

On "the boring bit" the arable fields after lunch there was a nice surprise of a field of oilseed rape half in flower. Later a hornbeam wood was awash with fresh lime green leaves. I think some stopped at Sissinghurst Gardens and at least two walked from there to Headcorn. At least 14 went on to Cranbrook: we peered into all three tea places before opting for the last, the Waterloo House, which was very nice.

I hear a few missed tea at Cranbrook and took the map led extension to Goudhurst. They must have caught the 17.15 bus to Marden because two of us who went on to Goudhurst after tea did not see them there. We had a lovely golden walk through woodland and then across a lovely valley to our destination, which looked from a distance like a hilltop Tuscan village. We only made the 18.11 bus, the last, with 8 minutes to spare, however, a pity as it would have been nice to linger. We then discovered that there were engineering works on the train line from Tunbridge Wells, where the bus was headed, so hurriedly got off the bus Matfield. It was a pleasant two mile walk downhill from there, chorused by wonderful birdsong, to Paddock Wood and the 7.30pm train home.
Sun, 12-Feb-17

Sunday Walk: Walk on the Weald side

Staplehurst to Headcorn SWC Walk 80
Length 12.9 km, 8 miles
Difficulty 2 out of 10

An easy walk in the Kentish Weald.
Trains: Get the 9:40 Dover Priory train from Charing Cross (London Bridge 9:50) arrives Staplehurst 10:37.
Return from Headcorn at xx:14 and xx:44. Get a return to Headcorn.
Lunch: The Bell and Jorrocks, Frittenden (01580 852415) Good idea to ring.
Tea: In Headcorn High Street, you have the George and Dragon, the Village Tea rooms and the Kings Arms.
Options: Anyone tempted by the longer 12.6 ml. loop via Sissinghurst should be aware that the gardens are closed in winter (though the rest of the NT estate is open). Anyone tempted by the variants ending in Sissinghurst (7.4 ml) or Cranbrook (9 ml) would need to get the (2-hourly) Arriva 5 bus back to Staplehurst. This calls Cranbrook 15:01 and 17:01, Sissinghurst 15:07 and 17:07 and reaches the station just as the xx:19 leaves. If you miss that train, the next one is in half an hour. (The 17:01 / 17:07 bus is the last for the day).
Walk Directions: here

Sat, 02-Jul-16 11

Saturday Second Walk - A new route from Sissinghurst

SWC Walk 80a - Staplehurst to Cranbrook
Length: 14.6km (9 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

9.30 train from Victoria (not Charing Cross, due to engineering works) (9.56 Bromley South, 10.04 Orpington) to Staplehurst, arriving 10.38. (Despite starting from Victoria this is not a Southern train and is not affected by the "sickie strike".)

Buy a day return to Staplehurst

For walk directions click here.

A few midweek walkers tried this variation on the Staplehurst to Headcorn walk back in March and I thought Saturday types might like to try it too. It was devised to give those who want to visit the National Trust property of Sissinghurst a not too onerous walk to leave them energy to do so, and/or to introduce the very charming Wealden town of Cranbrook, complete with lots of old houses, nice cafes and a windmill

As far as Frittenden you follow the main Staplehurst to Headcorn walk. No bluebells this time of year, alas, but this is pleasant and gentle rural territory, starting flat and slowly getting a bit more undulating. At Frittenden you switch to option a) Ending in Sissinghurst of Cranbrook. (Note: I have updated the walk document this week, so make sure you have the 28 June version of the pdf or the preceding sentence will not make sense.)

The Bell & Jorrocks is the quirky lunch pub in Frittenden, serving food to 2.30pm, but it cannot cope with huge influxes. The alternative is to press on 3km (1.8 miles) - on the option a) directions - to Sissinghurst, whose ample self-service tea room does hot food till around 2pm and which otherwise has sandwiches and cakes. It can be accessed without paying to go into the site.

The walk then continues to Sissinghurst village, where there is a further pub, the Milk House - probably a bit late for lunch as it is 7.4 miles into the walk, but it does (somewhat gastro) food till 3pm and faster walkers might well get there in time. It is otherwise open all afternoon for refreshments.

You can finish the walk at this point, getting the number 5 bus (direction Maidstone) from Sissinghurst village to Staplehurst station at 59 past the hour until 17.59 and then 19.01 (last bus)

But the recommended finish to the walk is to continue the 2.6km (1.6 miles) from Sissinghurst village to Cranbrook through lovely hilly territory (though the route is flat or downhill apart from one hill climb). This pretty town has several nice tea places, all open till 5pm, and two pubs if you get there too late for those. It also has a very striking windmill, which sometimes open for visits on Saturday afternoons (till 5pm).

Cranbrook is served by the same bus as Sissinghurst village, the number 5, which you get (in the direction of Maidstone) at 53 past till 17.53, then 18.56 (last bus)..

It is a 16 minute journey from Cranbrook and 10 minutes from Sissinghurst to Staplehurst station, (don't get off in Staplehurst village, which is a mile earlier) from where trains go at 22 and 52 past back to Victoria.
10 started the walk and we picked up a local enroute so 11
It started well enough though it seemed that two missed the train at Victoria possibly because it set off from platform 8, something that is unheard of.
The train took 2 hours to get us to Staplehurst due to a refusal by the trains to run through half of the tunnel at 7 oaks, and these tantrums were still happening on the return journey
The morning passed without event except for a tumultuous rain storm but luckily we managed to shelter in a barn for 30 mins until it mostly cleared
We then took the obvious route which ended us up in the artisanal blue cheese maker yard much to the displeasure of the man who was resident there he wasn't rude or nasty but certainly mighty displeased at our presence and asked us to retrace our route and he didn't know of the footpath and warned us that there were electric fences everywhere and no stiles. We duly found the route over a new stile and passed to the other side of the farmyard only to be barked at by horrible dogs.
The fields in this area were actually protected by electric fences as we had been warned and they were a bit of a problem and one of two of us with short legs received a few volts whilst crossing said electric fences I promise that nobody laughed not even the very tall people.
The written instructions managed to confuse us several times even when being backed up by maps and sat navs but we struggled through with quite a few false detours and the broad bean plants lying at the edge of the field gave us sustenance.
Lunch at the friendly Bell and Jorrocks was well welcome as we were somewhat tired and dispirited by the task of the morning.
Lunch was a long time coming but seemed to be enjoyed by all even the person who was shocked at ' £9 for a sandwich ? '
Whilst we sipped it pissed down but miraculously the clouds cleared as we made our way again. One of our team who napped in the churchyard came into the pub soaked and bedraggled but he seemed cheerful enough
A little rain and a lot of mud made the going in the afternoon rather hard but Sissinghurst supplied tea coffee and cake and revived our spirits for the final walk into Sissinghurst town where we missed the bus by 5 minutes
We waited for 55 minutes for the next bus during which time a number of people took off their boots and socks to prevent trench foot one chap surprised us with his shocking pink pedicured toe nails.
We got to Staplehurst where we waited just over an hour for a train the trains were still arguing over who wanted to use the tunnel ( Bloomin Rev Awdrey )and joy of joys one arrived and we all got back to Vic
In brief we left Vic Station 09.30 and got back there at 09.40 so 12 hours for an 8 mile walk
A lovely day out
The instructions for the Staplehurst walk referred to a kink in the path. No Ray Davies but there was a member of the Dave Clark Five on hand to help guide us.
Wed, 30-Mar-16 18

Midweek Day Walk Staplehurst to Headcorn

Staplehurst to Headcorn - An anemone lovers delight.

An easy walk through fields in the Kentish Weald and an option to visit Sissinghurst Gardens (NT).
Book 3* Walk 80
* online only
Length : 13 km or 8 miles

Toughness : 2 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:10 am train from London Charing Cross to Staplehurst
Calling Stations:
  • Waterloo East: depart 10:13 am
  • Sevenoaks: depart 10:42 am
Meeting point : Staplehurst Station at 11:07

Tickets : Buy a Day Return to Staplehurst for option c) or Headcorn if you intend to end your walk there.

Brief Description

If you're not worn out from the great selection of walks over Easter, here's an easy stroll for you to consider.
I've had some valuable input from Walker on this trek and on his advice I suggest option c) of the walk. This option ends in Cranbrook where there are fairly regular buses to Staplehurst.
These buses also serve Sissinghurst village (not the NT site but the village a mile and a half away), if any want to linger and look around the gardens at the NT property. (There is a nice pub in that village too.) The walk into Cranbrook follows a nice ridge with pleasant views, and the town is worth seeing.
There's an oppertunity to visit Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens (if you have an NT card, I suggest you pop it in your wallet/purse)
You may find full details of the walk here and a printable PDF here

Suggested Lunch stop

The Bell & Jorrocks, Frittenden, t: 01580 852415 - The history of the pub may be found here.

Suggested Tea stops

For the suggested option c):
The George Hotel, Cranbrook
Waterloo House Tea Room Cranbrook t: 01580713802 which appears to be open to 5 pm

For other options ...

The Milk House t: 01580 720200

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens (an early tea stop)
The Village Tea Rooms, Headcorn t: 01622 890682 - shuts 4:45 pm.


OS Explorer : 136 and 137

Return train times

Trains return from Staplehurst to London Charing Cross at 23 and 53 minutes past the hour.
Trains return from Headcorn to London Charing Cross at 18 and 48 minutes past the hour

Journey times are just over an hour

Buses from Cranbrook to Staplehurst (Route 5)

The Cranbrook ending for this walk is entirely NEW and has never been done by the SWC before. Cranbrook is a very cute town. The walk from Sissinghurst to Sissinghurst village has a good wood anemone wood, though they are a bit late this year. There is a nice pub in Sissinghurst village that also looks worth checking out
The buses take 20 minutes, so those leaving at 58 past get to Staplehurst at 17 past, all being well, and then connect with the 23 past train to Charing Cross. If the bus is late, one would be stuck with the next train, the 53 past.

The 18.19 connects with the 18.53 train quite comfortably.

18 mild some sunshine and rain held off until walk end

Another excellent mid week turnout for this pleasant outing in the Low Weald of Kent. The start was not auspicious as we had to traverse several very muddy or soggy fields but the terrain became a bit firmer as we approached the lunch pub in Frittenden the Bell and Jorrocks. We never did find out what a "jorrocks" is or was but no matter, the pub coped admirably with the 14 who sat down to eat and how wonderful to enjoy a pint of Harvey's Sussex after the Lentern abstinence.
After lunch the group split into Headcorn finishers and Cranbrook finishers and I was with 6 doing the latter. I'm not sure if the Headcorners visited Sissinghurst but if they by passed it they missed a treat the gardens were lovely. Then it was onwards to Cranbrook, a quaint town with some interesting buildings, a quick cuppa or takeaway drink for some as we dodged a later afternoon shower, and then the bus which whisked us back to Staplehurst for the connecting train back to London.
An easy day's walking with some early signs of Spring proper a few wood anemones (late this year?) and some bluebells which (foolishly ?) were making an early appearance. Do this walk in three week's time and the woodland flowers should be quite stunning.
Sun, 10-May-15

Sunday Walk 2

Staplehurst to Headcorn with Sissinghurst options
Extra Walk 80
Length 14km 7.8m - extendable to 19.4km 12.1 miles.
Difficulty 2 out of 10

An easy walk in the Kentish Weald. Said to be good for wild flowers in spring. If you're lucky, there may still be bluebells about. The walk can be extended to include Sissinghurst Castle, famous for the gardens designed by Vita Sackville-West.

Trains: Get the 10:10 Ramsgate train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 10:14 ) arrives Staplehurst 11:07.
Trains return from Headcorn at xx:18 and xx:48. Get a return to Headcorn.
Cannon Street underground on the District and Circle Line has been open on recent Sundays, but if coming in from the east, note that a section near Aldgate East is closed today. Bank Station is within easy reach (as are Monument and Mansion House) here's a map. (From Bank, take Exit 5, cross over Lombard St and head down St Swithins Lane, off to the right. Takes about 5 minutes)
• The Bell and Jorrocks, Frittenden (01580 852415) or
• Theres a National Trust Coffee Shop and the Granary restaurant at Sissinghurst Castle 01580 710700 (The restaurant can be accessed without paying the entrance fee)
Tea: In Headcorn High Street, you have the George and Dragon, the Village Tea rooms and the Kings Arms.
Walk Directions here

Sissinghurst options:
Option (a) extends the basic walk to include Sissinghurst. Entry to the castle gardens costs £11.70 unless you're an NT member.
If you want to spend time there, you could finish there by following option (b) (30 mins walk) to get the 15:07 or 17:07 number 5 bus from Sissinghurst village back to Staplehurst. Trains leave Staplehurst at xx:23 and xx:53.
A new option (c) takes you on from Sissinghurst to Cranbrook where you can catch the same no 5 bus at 15:02 or 17:02
Anyone contemplating option (d) (which starts at Sissinghurst) would need to catch a 9:10 or 11:10 train to meet the 10:17 and 12:17 buses from Staplehurst.
The Cranbrook ending of this walk is not just new, it is brand new. This is its first outing (if anyone decides to try it).
Sun, 13-Apr-14 13 Staplehurst to Headcorn, extended via Sissinghurst
Sat, 22-Jun-13 5 Staplehurst to Headcorn, extended via Sissinghurst
Sun, 15-Apr-12 Staplehurst to Headcorn
Wed, 17-Aug-11 Staplehurst to Headcorn, extended via Sissinghurst
Sat, 11-Jun-11 Staplehurst to Headcorn, extended via Sissinghurst
Sat, 23-Apr-11 Staplehurst to Headcorn
Sun, 21-Nov-10 Staplehurst to Headcorn
Sat, 05-Jun-10 Staplehurst to Headcorn, extended via Sissinghurst
Sat, 20-Mar-10 Staplehurst to Headcorn
Sat, 09-Jan-10 Staplehurst to Headcorn
Sat, 04-Apr-09 Staplehurst to Headcorn or Cranbrook