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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

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.

1 comment:

Walker said...

28 on this walk, or rather n=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 w=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.