Straight Mile Bridge, Haysden Country Park

28-Oct-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Across the New Cut (River Medway)

28-Oct-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Seldon Farm

28-Oct-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Through Hurst Wood

13-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Tower at David Salomon's House

13-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Sulphur polypore on yew stump

13-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Old yew tree, Southborough Common

13-Jun-15 • Sean O'Neill

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Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough via Bidborough walk

Gentle walk via elegant Tunbridge Wells, delightful woods, the Wealdway, and Haysden County Park


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: Fri, 07-Dec-18

Date # Post
Sat, 09-Jun-18 14

Saturday walk - Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough - Across the Weald and down into the valley

Length: 17.7km (11 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

10.00 train from Charing Cross (10.03 Waterloo East, 10.09 London Bridge) to Tunbridge Wells, arriving 10.58

Buy a day return to Tunbridge Wells

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

This walk starts in pretty Tunbridge Wells and heads north - into hilly territory but never too strenuous, finally coming to the northern escarpment of the Weald, with fine views. After that you descend onto flatter lands to come to Hildenborough, where there is a nice place for tea, owned by former Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes.

There are two pubs for lunch. From memory last time we ate at the Kentish Hare, which was a bit gourmet but has nice outdoor seating. The walk author does not give distances to the lunch pubs, but I don't remember it as being a big stretch.

In the event that the Bidborough pub is full, one option that was mentioned when this walk was last posted is to divert for 600 metres eastwards up to through the woods just before you get to Bidborough to the main road. This is the centre of the charming old town of Southborough, which predates Tunbridge Wells and has at least two pubs - the Hand and Sceptre and the Imperial.

On the last outing three of us also continued walking from Hildenborough to Sevenoaks, but this was a map-led option, ie no walk directions. A very pleasant walk if anyone wants to try it, though....

Trains back from Hildenborough are at 05 and 35 past the hour. T=3.238
The Kentish Hare is officially 7.3kms in to the walk. The Plough comes after 14.1 kms (or 12.9kms if you take the more direct option bypassing Bidborough).
Did anyone do this walk?
About 14 walkers on a sunny and pleasant day. Half of them picniced in the church yard in Bidborough with great views across the valley and half of them had lunch in the pub. Two finished the walk in Tonbridge, one talked about continuing on to Sevenoaks I suppose the majority ended up in Hildenborough. Of note is that the underpass under the A21 is closed for what seems like another year. You need to detour along the road towards the west or the east, either is possible and recapture the walk at the Medway.
Sat, 25-Mar-17 25

Saturday walk - Northwards from Tunbridge Wells

SWC walk 238 - Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough
Length: 17.7 km (11 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

9.23 train from London Bridge (9.41 East Croydon) to Tunbridge Wells, arriving 10.28.

Buy a day return to Tunbridge Wells.

For walk directions click here.

My reason for picking this walk is that I have never tried it and would like to.... But early in the walk (which initially reverses the ending of Book 1's Leigh to Tunbridge Wells) there is also a wood anemone wood, which hopefully will be at least partly abloom by now (though the flowers only open up on warm sunny days).

The route then strikes north over Wealden hills, passing a possible lunch pub in Bidborough, before descending into the Medway Valley, where there is another lunch pub and - somewhat later - tea in Hildenborough, one option being a cafe run by Olympic champion Kelly Holmes, apparently.

The first pub, in Bidborough, is described as having "limited seating" in the description of this walk and the pub's website says it has "limited availability for large groups at weekend". SWC groups have managed in the past, however. It is also Mother's Day weekend when pubs are busy, though usually it is Sunday that is most affected by this. An alternative for those with maps might be to divert for 600 metres eastwards up to through the woods just before you get to Bidborough to the main road. This is the centre of the charming old town of Southborough, which predates Tunbridge Wells and has at least two pubs - the Hand and Sceptre and the Imperial

Trains are a little odd for this walk due to engineering works - the reason why the outward train goes via East Croydon. This has minimal impact on journey times, however.

Trains back are similarly a bit unusual, at 09 and 39 past and morphing at Sevenoaks into a stopping service that goes to various points in South London. This takes 1hr 05 minutes to get to Victoria (not London Bridge or Charing Cross) versus the normal 45 minutes, but you can reduce this to 58 minutes by changing at Sevenoaks and waiting 9 minutes for a fast train, also to Victoria.
If your doing a Walk Tomorrow. Well as you are going from a London Station. You just got to be Cautious at all times due to the incident since last Wednesday at Westminster.
I am aiming to join the walk coming on the train from Hastings arriving at TW at exactly the same time.
bright sunshine but a cold wind
An interesting walk in the morning, with some ups and downs, to keep exercise minded walkers happy. A slightly faster group of 7 walked on ahead and chose to have lunch at the Hand and Sceptre in Southborough, while the majority dined at the Kentish Hare in Bidborough. The afternoon was quite gentle walking in comparison and included a pleasant stretch along the Medway, as well as a number of fine oast houses, reminding us we had crossed over the county border into Kent. A number of walkers stopped off at Café 1809 for a cup of tea and slice of sticky cake. It's a friendly café, but not ideal for thirsty walkers, who might like to order a pot of tea (unavailable), rather than a cup (or, in our case, a paper take away cup, because they'd run out of proper cups)... tut tut!
A postscript to the walk report... I emailed Café 1809 last Saturday, speaking highly of the warm welcome and tasty cakes, but also suggesting that thirsty walkers would really like to order pots of tea. I got the following reply from Kelly Holmes (see below):

Dear David

I have been forwarded your email.

Many thanks for the kind words and your feedback.

Yes we will be introducing teapots on our next revamp.

As you will appreciate different cafes have different styles of serving and to be honest tea pots are pretty expensive when you take natural breakages. However it is something I am now investing in and teapots will be at the cafe by mid April you will be pleased to know!

I hope to see you in the cafe sometime soon.

Best wishes


Dame Kelly Holmes

Cafe 1809 Ltd 

Sat, 18-Jun-16 13

Saturday Second Walk - a gentle stroll in Kent

SWC Walk 238 - Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough via Bidborough
Length: 17.7km (11 miles), with shorter option 14.3km (8.8 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

9.30 train from Charing Cross (9.33 Waterloo East) to Tunbridge Wells, arriving 10.39.

Buy a day return to Tunbridge Wells.

For walk directions click here.

This walk had its debut last September and has not, I think, had an outing since. It is a gentle ramble north from Tunbridge Wells into delightful Weald territory, coming to the village of Bidborough after 7.3km (4.5 miles), where the Kentish Hare will probably be the best pub lunch stop for most, though there is a later option 12.9km (8 miles) into the walk that speedier walkers may just be able to get to.

In the afternoon you descend into flatter territory, crossing the pleasant Haysden Country Park and following the River Eden for a way. Here there is a possible short cut into Tonbridge which reduces the walk length to 14.3km (8.8 miles)

Otherwise you end the walk Hildenborough, where a cafe run by Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes is one of the tea options if you can get here by 5pm.

Trains back from Hildenborough are at 28 and 58 past till 19.58, then hourly at 58 past till 22.58
Intend going and doing the full walk.
13 on this walk. The lunch time pub was a bit expensive, £18 per person, crisps £1.50 etc. Everyone seemed to have a good time despite it being muddy and a bit cold. Got to Kelly Holmes tearoom before the dreaded 5 o'clock closure, and everybody subsequently enjoyed tea and cakes. Kelly wasn't there though, probably getting ready for work in Rio.
Sat, 05-Sep-15 14

Saturday Third Walk – the Kentish Weald

Extra Walk 238 – Tunbridge Wells to Hildenborough
Length: 17.7 km (11 miles), with shorter options. Toughness: 2/10 (I'd have said 4/10)

10:03 Tunbridge Wells train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 10:07, New Cross 10:13, Orpington 10:26), arriving Tunbridge Wells at 10:57. Buy a day return to Tunbridge Wells.

Trains back from Hildenborough go to London Bridge and Cannon Street at 06 & 36 minutes past the hour.

This new walk was posted as a last-minute Sunday replacement for another Tunbridge Wells walk back in January. I don't think the weather was great and the group opted for a shorter ending in Tonbridge, so this will be the full walk's début. The start is essentially the same as the ending of Book 1 Walk 15 in reverse, after which it continues on a northerly route via Bidborough and Haysden Country Park to Hildenborough and its out-of-the-way station on the Sevenoaks-Tonbridge line.

Lunch is at a newly-renovated gastro-pub in Bidborough, the Kentish Hare, which you should reach before 1pm. Halfway through the afternoon you go through Haysden Country Park where you could switch to one of the shorter endings in Tonbridge or Leigh.

If you continue to Hildenborough be sure not to miss the suggested tea place: Café 1809 “one eight oh nine” was opened by Dame Kelly Holmes last year and looks very appealing. Note that the station is a mile out of the village, so unless you can run as fast as Ms Holmes you'd better allow 20-25 minutes to get there from the café.

You'll need to print the directions from the Extra Walk 238 page.
Cloudy but dry
We agree with walk poster this a a 4 out of 10. Some footpaths a bit overgrown as you climb out of Tunbridge Wells. The Kentish Hare is smart and modern but was welcoming and efficient, some ate in the bar area and others outside. The food is good and whilst you could spend £40 on a three course lunch there are some reasonably priced options in the menu. The blackberries were good in places and we enjoyed tea at Cafe 1809 including meeting Dame Kelly Holmes who dropped in just before we left. It is a great addition to Hildenborough with reasonable prices but don't leave too late on Saturday or all the best cakes will have gone.
Sun, 25-Jan-15 7 Tunbridge Wells to Tonbridge