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The Straight Mile

28-Oct-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Harden Vineyard in August

20-Aug-13 • Sean O'Neill

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Harden Vineyard in August

20-Aug-13 • Sean O'Neill

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Autumn colours on Cinder Hill Lane

20-Nov-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Railway bridge across the River Medway

08-Dec-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place

Tonbridge to Penshurst walk

12-Mar-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Leicester Square, Penshurst

Leicester Square, Penshurst

Tonbridge to Penshurst walk

12-Mar-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Tonbridge to Penshurst Walk

The Eden Valley Walk through Haysden Country Park to Penshurst Place and Chiddingstone Castle

Tonbridge to Penshurst
Length

Main Walk: 17¼ km (10.7 miles). Four hours 10 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8½ hours.

Circular Walk, from Penshurst: 13¾ km (8.5 miles). Three hours 20 minutes walking time.

OS Map

Explorer 147. Tonbridge, map reference TQ587460, is in Kent, 10 km SE of Sevenoaks. Penshurst Station is in Chiddingstone Causeway, 7 km W of Tonbridge.

Toughness

3 out of 10.

Features

This walk provides a link from a major town with a frequent rail service to the rolling countryside around the villages of Penshurst and Chiddingstone. You are soon out of Tonbridge town centre and heading for Haysden Country Park, a popular recreational area of lakes and water meadows alongside the River Medway. The area's industrial past can be glimpsed in the many abandoned waterways and reclaimed gravel pits, while the modern Leigh Flood Relief Barrier is a reminder that this low-lying area is prone to flooding.

The remainder of the morning section follows the Eden Valley Walk to a choice of lunch places in Penshurst. This attractive village is dominated by 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 (2016) is £10.80.

After lunch the route climbs the low hills between the Medway and Eden rivers to the equally pretty village of Chiddingstone where (if open) 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 left behind by its recent owner, Denys Eyre Bower. The house is open Sun–Wed from April to October; admission (2016) is £9. A short final section takes you back over the River Eden on an old bridge and across low-lying farmland to a station which calls itself Penshurst but is 3 km away from that village.

The walk crosses the area which is intentionally flooded when the Leigh barrier is raised so it will not be feasible in this event. The Wealden soil does not drain well and parts of the walk can be muddy even after moderate amounts of rain.

Additional Notes

This walk was originally intended to loop back to Tonbridge after a lunchtime stop in the village of Leigh, but the semi-permanent closure of a pedestrian footbridge over the A21 has stymied the most promising circular route. On this modification there is some overlap with Extra Walk 92 (Penshurst to Leigh) and Extra Walk 78 (Cowden to Hever), as well as a couple of Book 1 walks which go through Penshurst.

Walk Options

You can save 2¼ km by taking a shorter afternoon route from Penshurst to Chiddingstone (staying on the Eden Valley Walk, as in Walk 78). Directions are also given for a Circular Walk from Penshurst station, which starts with a new route into the village. If you were late arriving in Tonbridge for the Main Walk and there was a convenient train to Penshurst, you could use this shorter start to catch up with the main group.

Because of the overlap with Walk 92 you could devise several other variations: eg. starting from Leigh station, or substituting its longer route between Penshurst and Chiddingstone (via Hoath Corner).

Transport

For the Main Walk, there are four to six fast trains an hour from London Charing Cross and Cannon Street to Tonbridge, taking 40-45 minutes.

Penshurst station is on the Redhill–Tonbridge line, which has an hourly service. For the Circular Walk you can either take a direct train from London Bridge via Redhill, or travel out via Tonbridge and change there; this indirect route is often quicker but you need to leave enough time to be sure of making the connection. For all the walk options buy a day return to Penshurst, which is valid for return to London via Redhill or Tonbridge.

If you want to finish the walk in Penshurst village, Metrobus 231, 233 & 237 combine to give a regular bus service (Mon–Sat) to Edenbridge in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other.

If driving, consider parking at the small private car park on the south side of Penshurst station and taking the train into Tonbridge if you want to do the Main Walk. A sign says the charge is £3 per day, although this may not be enforced at weekends. Parking at the large station car park in Tonbridge costs £5.70 off-peak, £4 Sat, £1 Sun (2016).

Suggested Train

Take the train nearest to 10:00 from Charing Cross or Cannon Street to Tonbridge for the Main Walk, or 10:45 from London Bridge to Penshurst for the Circular Walk.

Train Times

Lunch

The suggested lunch place is the refurbished Leicester Arms Hotel (01892-871617) in Penshurst, after 8¼ km on the Main Walk or 4¾ km on the Circular Walk. This up-market establishment reopened at Christmas 2013 after being closed for almost a year; it serves excellent home-made food until around 2.30pm (4pm Sun).

On the way into the village the Main Walk passes close to the Porcupine Pantry (01892-870307), just outside the main entrance to Penshurst Place and open daily to non-visitors; it has indoor and outdoor seating and serves light lunches and afternoon teas, but might struggle to cope with a large group. There is also a tearoom in the village, but the Fir Tree House (01892-870382) does not open until 2.30pm.

Tea

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 are spoilt for choice, as you can visit its equally good Victorian Tearoom (01892-870347) and explore the grounds without necessarily paying to visit the house.

If you want further refreshment before the journey back, there is a large pub on the road opposite the north side of Penshurst station: the Little Brown Jug (01892-870318) is normally open all day.

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Trains

Out: (not a train station)

Back: (not a train station)

By Car

Start: TN9 1TT Directions then return to your car by train:

Finish: TN11 8JE Directions then travel to the start by train:

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Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jul-16

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Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Tonbridge to Penshurst

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map 2: Penshurst Circular Walk Map 1: Tonbridge to Penshurst Walk Maps

Walk Options ( Main | Circular )

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (17¼ km)
  1. Main Walk, with shorter afternoon (15 km)
  2. Circular Walk, from Penshurst (13¾ km)
  3. Circular Walk, with shorter afternoon (11½ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

If you are doing the Circular Walk from Penshurst, start at §4.

  1. Tonbridge Station to Haysden Country Park (2 km)
  2. Tonbridge From the station head north towards the start of the High Street, then cut through the streets on the left to the River Medway. Cross the river into the large sports ground and take any route across it to the far side. Cross the other branch of the river on a footbridge and turn left onto the Eden Valley Walk (EVW) and Cycle Route 12 (CR 12). After going under the railway turn left into Haysden Country Park.

    Tonbridge Arriving from the London train on Platform 3, go up the steps near the front to emerge on a busy main road. Turn left, go down the slope and past a roundabout into the start of Tonbridge's1 High Street. Almost immediately turn left into Avebury Avenue, then take the first right into River Lawn Road. Towards the end of this short street, bear left onto a tarmac path cutting across a patch of grass towards the River Medway.

    Cross a footbridge over the channel at Buley's Weir and head N alongside the river for a short distance. Opposite the entrance to Tonbridge Memorial Gardens2 cross the river on a footbridge. Take the path going directly away from the river to the edge of a large sports ground and turn right, signposted to the Castle and Swimming Pool. In 100m, with the Pool ahead on your right, veer left to join a surfaced path going around the edge of the grounds, alongside another branch of the river.

    After 600m around the perimeter the path goes up a short incline where you turn right to cross the river on a footbridge. Either cut across the next set of sports pitches to the far left-hand corner, or simply follow the path ahead and turn left at the end onto the Eden Valley Walk3 (EVW).

    You will be following the EVW intermittently to Penshurst (and beyond on the shorter afternoon route). Much of this route is shared with Cycle Route 12, but in several places the route splits into parallel paths: at these junctions ignore the CR 12 signs and stick to the footpath.

    After passing the sports pitches follow the path under a low railway bridge. A further short stretch of tarmac leads onto a broad woodland path alongside a water channel, the outflow from the Powder Mills4 site. In 200m you come to a path junction and turn left, crossing a couple of footbridges into Haysden Country Park5.

  3. Through Haysden Country Park (2¼ km)
  4. Cross the river on Lucifer Bridge and go along the side of Barden Lake. Continue on paths close to the main branch of the river, going through Heusenstamm Wood and over an embankment by the Leigh Flood Relief Barrier. Go under the A21 flyover and follow the riverside path round to the left, under the railway and onto a strip of land alongside Haysden Water. Cross a footbridge and turn right onto the Straight Mile.

    Follow the path alongside the River Medway for 150m (passing a WWII pillbox) to a bridge with steel lattice sides. The EVW continues alongside the river but you turn left to cross Lucifer Bridge. Before coming to a second footbridge, turn right through a squeeze gate onto a narrow woodland path, also leaving CR 12. The path winds its way through the trees and goes down a short flight of steps to the perimeter path around Barden Lake.

    Unless you want to take the long way round the lake (adding 500m or so) turn right onto the path. At the far end of the lake keep ahead on a path into the trees, which soon turns right to cross a backwater on Sharpe's Bridge. This brings you back to the main river where you turn left, signposted to the Leigh Barrier. In 150m you pass the ruined Stone Lock6 and its bridge to continue on a broad strip of grassland alongside a straight stretch of the river, the New Cut7.

    In 300m go past Friendship Bridge. Where the main path turns left shortly afterwards, keep ahead through a squeeze gate into Heusenstamm Wood8. The path forks by a wooden sculpture and you can take either route: the right-hand path gives you a closer view of the Leigh Barrier, although it can be muddier. On both paths a stile at the end of the wood brings you out onto a patch of grassland alongside the Leigh Flood Relief Barrier9. Climb the embankment ahead, to look down on a water meadow crossed by the A21 flyover.

    It goes without saying that if the barrier has been raised and this meadow is flooded the rest of the walk will not be feasible.

    Take any route across the meadow to the far left-hand corner, passing under the flyover (the bank on the left-hand side is the most sensible continuation if the ground looks waterlogged). In the corner go under the railway bridge and in 25m turn right onto a narrow path leading to a strip of scrubland between the river and Haysden Water. Make your way along this potentially muddy area; you are now back on the EVW and heading SW. As you approach a projecting piece of woodland on the left and the path splits, take the left fork.

    Just after this fork an inconspicuous path through the trees on the left leads to a viewpoint across Haysden Water. If you take this short detour the path loops back to rejoin the main path by the footbridge a little further ahead.

    The main path swings left to continue alongside a wooden fence and comes to a substantial footbridge over a water channel. Go across this and turn right on the far side to reach a path junction at the boundary of the Country Park, where CR 12 rejoins from the left.

  5. Haysden Country Park to Penshurst (4 km)
  6. Follow CR 12 to Ensfield Bridge. Cross the river and continue on the EVW all the way into Penshurst: initially on the riverbank, up a slope to Killick's Bank, along a farm track (skirting Well Place Farm) and rejoining CR 12 as it goes past Penshurst Place.

    Keep ahead at the path junction to go along an attractive tree-lined path between two abandoned waterways, the Straight Mile6. In 500m keep ahead at a path crossing, which you might recognise from Book 1 Walk 19: the path on the right leads to Leigh. Continuing along the main path, you pass a couple of places where the waterways would have linked up with the river, swinging left to cross the second one on a bridge. After a short climb a footpath joins from a squeeze gate on the left.

    For the rest of this section you will be following the route of Book 1 Walk 19 (in reverse).

    Follow the path for a further 400m to reach a minor road. Turn right onto the road to cross the river at Ensfield Bridge, then immediately turn left onto the riverbank, leaving CR 12. In 500m a number of signs direct you to bear right (before these were put up it was easy to miss this turning). Head towards the trees and cross a backwater on a wooden bridge, comig out into the bottom of a field. Bear left and follow a faint grassy path up to its top left-hand corner, in front of a house at Killick's Bank. Go out through a squeeze gate, turn right and then immediately left at a T-junction with a concrete lane, rejoining CR 12.

    Follow the lane for 600m, heading SW. Where the lane (and cycle route) turns left towards Well Place Farm, keep ahead on a track. In 100m go through a squeeze gate into the top of a field, with a view of Penshurst Place 1 km ahead. Follow a broad grassy path sloping downhill, slightly to the left. In the bottom corner go through a squeeze gate, along a field edge for 100m and then back onto CR 12 through a squeeze gate on the left.

    Turn right onto the lane, passing some lakes on the right. In 400m you pass Penshurst Place's large car park on the right, with the Porcupine Pantry (a possible lunch stop) behind it; if you are stopping here for refreshment (or visiting the manor house), return to this lane afterwards. From the end of the car park to the main road there is a high brick wall on your right, in the middle of which a locked gate affords you a glimpse of the manor house's formal gardens.

    At the end of the driveway go out through a stone and brick archway and keep ahead on the B2176. On the right you pass Leicester Square10, where an archway11 at the back leads to St John the Baptist church12 (which is worth visiting). Continuing on the road into the village, you soon come to the Leicester Arms Hotel (the suggested lunch stop) on your left.

    Continue the directions at §6 unless you are doing the shorter afternoon, in which case go to §8.

  7. Penshurst Station to the Penshurst Place Estate (2¼ km)
  8. Take the minor road heading south-east from the station to Moorden. Shortly after joining the B2176 turn left onto a footpath heading east along field edges, back towards the railway. Join Cinder Hill Lane and follow it past Roundabout Wood to its T-junction with Penshurst Road. Take the footpath off to the left into the Penshurst Place Estate.

    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. Go out along the station's long access road to its junction with the B2176, with a converted oast house “Moorden” across the road on your left.

    Keep ahead on the main road for 150m, taking care there is no pavement. Ignore two footpaths on the right and the driveway into Moorden, then turn left into the driveway to some more houses, signposted as a footpath. Go past the entrance to “The Barn” and follow the drive alongside a hedge and round to the left. Bear right in front of the other houses and go across a small parking area onto a farm track between a black metal tank and a corrugated iron shed.

    In 150m you come out into the corner of a field. Continue in the same direction along the right-hand edge of several large fields for 750m, passing “Little Moorden” off to the right about halfway along. At the end of the last field go over a stile to the right of a metal fieldgate to join Little Moorden's driveway, now back alongside the railway (in a cutting on your left).

    The driveway leads out to a road junction where you keep ahead. Follow this quiet country road (Cinder Hill Lane) for 500m as it makes several turns to the right, eventually heading S. At the end the lane goes up a short incline and comes to a T-junction with Penshurst Road. Turn left briefly onto the road (heading away from Penshurst), cross over carefully and almost immediately turn right onto a signposted footpath into the Penshurst Place Estate.

  9. Through the Penshurst Place Estate (2½ km)
  10. Inside the estate fork right and follow a footpath south and then south-west to Penshurst Park. Go out via the churchyard and turn right onto the B2176 into Penshurst village.

    Just inside the estate fork right onto a track climbing gently through the woodland, initially heading S. In 100m this turns half-right in front of a huge oak tree and becomes a broad grassy track, gradually descending. At the bottom of the dip go straight across an estate track to continue through an area of grassland, heading SW. In 500m, just before reaching a line of trees, bear right and go through a wide gap in the trees to come to a path junction, with another footpath joining from a tree-lined avenue on the left.

    This footpath is the route from Leigh station on Book 1 Walk 15, which you now follow for the remainder of this section.

    Keep ahead at the path junction onto a tree-lined avenue going downhill 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 grassy path cutting off this corner. Go through a gate by the Sidney Oak13 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 church12 (which is worth visiting; its entrance is on the south side). Leave the churchyard through an archway11 and go past the picturesque houses in Leicester Square10 to the B2176. Turn right onto the road to enter the village, soon coming to the Leicester Arms Hotel (the suggested lunch stop) on your left.

    If you are doing the shorter afternoon, go to §8.

  11. Penshurst to Oakenden (3 km)
  12. 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. Leave Salmans Manor on a footpath heading west, climbing gradually through fields, woods and the edge of Harden Vineyard.

    This section is the same as Extra Walk 92b.

    Turn left out of the pub and go up to the road junction in the centre of the village. For the longer afternoon route, keep left and go along the B2188 for 200m, passing some attractive old buildings14. 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 Eden15. 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.

    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 next turning is easy to miss. About 100m along this track, opposite a house “Oakenden”, turn right up a few steps in the earth bank.

  13. Oakenden to Chiddingstone (3¼ km)
  14. Take the footpath heading north across fields and through Yewtree Wood to Weller's Town Road. Continue on the footpath opposite to Hill Hoath. Follow a lane north and go round Chiddingstone Castle (with the option of cutting through its grounds if open) into Chiddingstone.

    At the top of the bank go over a stile in the trees and turn half-right, following a faint grassy path to the opposite corner of a field. Go over a stile and down the right-hand edge of the next field, ignoring a gap on the right. At the bottom another stile takes you into Yewtree Wood, with a Conservation Trust sign. Go up to a path junction and turn right to head NNE, with the edge of the wood off to your right.

    You will be leaving the wood by crossing a stream down to your left about 200m further on. The path becomes less clear but eventually curves round to the left and doubles back for a short distance to reach a wide concrete bridge over this stream, although if you spot a faint path forking left earlier you might be able to reach this crossing point more directly.

    Cross the stream and bear right onto a potentially muddy wide track. At the top of a short slope turn left onto a surfaced track. Go past a metal fieldgate (or over a stile on its left if locked) and follow the track out to a road. Go through a metal kissing gate and turn right briefly onto the road, then turn left through another kissing gate by a footpath signpost.

    Go down the left-hand edge of a large field. At the bottom follow a grassy path round to the left and go through a metal kissing gate into a small wood. After crossing a stream turn right at a path junction, heading N. The woodland path soon swings left to skirt around a pond and comes to the edge of the wood, where there are two exits.

    You could take the right-hand exit (a permissive horse ride), but to stay on the public footpath cross the plank bridge into the left-hand field. Go along its right-hand edge, with a hedge on your right. At the end the field opens out and you turn half-right, rejoining the horse ride from the other side of the hedge. Follow a broad path across the field, which turns back to the left and goes past a pond. Continue along the right-hand edge of another field towards a cluster of buildings.

    Go past some of these buildings into the hamlet of Hill Hoath and keep left at a junction. After passing some cottages you come to another junction and fork right onto a quiet country lane, heading N. 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 alternative route in §7b is not a public right of way but you could go through the grounds 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.

    1. Route along public roads
    2. 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.

    3. Route via castle grounds
    4. 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 your right. A little further along Chiddingstone's attractive village street16 you come to St Mary's church17, which is worth visiting. Opposite the church the Tulip Tree tearoom is up a short driveway behind the Chiddingstone Stores.

    Complete the directions at §9.

  15. Penshurst to Chiddingstone direct (4 km)
  16. Head north out of the village on the B2176, then turn left onto the old coach road. Follow the Eden Valley Walk past Wat Stock, across Wellers Town Road and through a wood. Fork right onto a footpath heading north across fields and over a small hill into Chiddingstone. Unless you want to head directly to Penshurst station, turn left and go along the village street for a choice of refreshment places.

    This section is the same as Extra Walk 78 (with the short cut at the beginning).

    Turn left out of the pub and go up to the road junction in the centre of the village. For the shorter afternoon route, turn right to head N on the B2176, soon passing the Fir Tree House tearoom on your left. In a further 150m turn left into the lane to Salmans Farm (the old coach road), signposted as a public bridleway.

    In 500m the lane crosses the River Eden15 and you fork right up a track, with increasingly fine views over the Eden Valley on your right and later with a huge array of polytunnels in the fields on your left. Continue on the main track for 1½ km to the derelict farm buildings at Wat Stock and keep ahead where a lane joins from the left.

    Continue along the lane as it passes a pond and bends right. 150m after this bend bear right onto a track and go through a gate to the right of a metal fieldgate. Head diagonally across a field on a grassy path and leave it through another gate to emerge on a minor road. Cross the road and go over a stile off to the right to continue on an attractive woodland path for 400m.

    On the far side leave the wood through a gate and continue briefly on a grassy tree-lined path. In 50m fork right onto a narrow path, as indicated by a sign on a tree to your right. In 200m go over a stile in the hedge on your right and immediately turn left onto a broad path (not the one heading E across the field). Follow the path as it goes uphill and curves gently to the right. On the far side of the field continue on a path between hedges, which leads down to Chiddingstone's village street.

    The continuation of the walk is along the road to the right, so if you do not want to explore Chiddingstone you could turn right and pick up the directions in the next section.

    For the village turn left, in 30m passing a signpost for the Chiding Stone (which you could also visit on the way out of the village: see below). A little further along Chiddingstone's attractive village street16 you come to St Mary's church17, which is worth visiting. Opposite the church the Tulip Tree tearoom is up a short driveway behind the Chiddingstone Stores; the Castle Inn is ahead on the left, where the road turns sharply right by a pedestrian entrance to Chiddingstone Castle.

  17. Chiddingstone to Penshurst Station (2¾ km)
  18. 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 fields. Turn right at a path junction and head alternately east and north across a few more fields to Penshurst station.

    The ending of the walk is the same as Extra Walk 92b.

    To complete the walk, head E along the village street. Just before the primary school, you could make a short detour to see the Chiding Stone18.

    • Detour to the Chiding Stone (+250m)
    • 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 Farm19 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.

Walk Notes

  1. Tonbridge has always been pronounced Tunbridge and was often spelt that way. The 'o' spelling became standard in the late 19thC to help distinguish it from its spa neighbour Tunbridge Wells, which retained the 'u' spelling.
  2. Tonbridge Memorial Gardens were created after World War II “in grateful memory of the men of this town who died in the service of their King and Country”.
  3. The Eden Valley Walk runs for 24 km, linking the Wealdway in Tonbridge with the Vanguard Way to the west of Edenbridge. 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.
  4. The Powder Mills site manufactured gunpowder from 1813 until its closure in 1934, with the channels from the River Medway providing the water power for grinding and mixing the ingredients. Unlike the similar works at Chilworth the historic site (on the boundary between Tonbridge and Leigh) is not open to the public.
  5. Haysden Country Park was opened in 1988 after sand and gravel extraction ceased, a process which had created Barden Lake and Haysden Water.
  6. Stone Lock is at one end of the Straight Mile (now cut in two by Haysden Water), dug in 1830 in an attempt to straighten out the River Medway for navigation. The blocks of stone were reputedly taken from Tonbridge Castle. The canal never filled with water and the project was abandoned.
  7. The New Cut was a later and more successful attempt to straighten out the meanders of the original river. The Shallows (on the other side of the railway line) are gradually reverting to marshland.
  8. Heusenstamm Wood was planted on reclaimed land after the Flood Barrier replaced a large weir which had previously controlled water levels. The trees were donated from Tonbridge's twin town in Germany after the 1987 storm.
  9. Completed in 1981, the Leigh Flood Relief Barrier was designed to protect Tonbridge from flooding. The embankment acts as a dam and a large area of water meadows can be flooded to hold back the water (although it did not have enough capacity to fully protect the area downstream in the winter storms of 2013/14).
  10. 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.
  11. “My Flesh also shall rest in Hope”, inscribed above the archway leading out of Penshurst churchyard into Leicester Square, is from Psalm 16:9.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. The large horseshoe-shaped doorway in the quaint shop/garage is a relic of its days as the village smithy.
  15. The River Eden has its source in the North Downs near Titsey and flows into the River Medway just outside Penshurst.
  16. 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.
  17. 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”!
  18. 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.
  19. 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: July 18, 2016

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