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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.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Saturday walk - Hurst Green to Ide Hill and onwards - bluebells and views

Hurst Green to Ide Hill to Penshurst (or Westerham) T=3.79
Length: 19.6km (12.2 miles) or 18.6km (11.6 miles) - Shorter options possible: see ** below
Toughness: 6 out of 10

(East Grinstead-bound) train from Victoria (9.59 Clapham Junction, 10.10 East Croydon) to Hurst Green, arriving 10.34.

Buy a day return to Penshurst, unless you intend to do the Westerham ending, in which case a Hurst Green return will do.

Whole swathes of SWC walkers are rushing off to barren mountainsides this weekend. Those of us who remain will have to console ourselves with bluebell woods, new green foliage, verges covered in flowers and flitting butterflies. Sigh....

This walk may look like the Book 2 Hurst Green to Chiddingstone walk, but it actually only shares the first mile and a half with that walk and - depending on which option you take - the ending. In between it keeps to the edge of the Greensand escarpment with mouth-watering views and several nice bluebell woods, finally landing up at the extensive bluebell woods below Ide Hill, which you can explore thoroughly.

So your directions for the walk are NOT the book two ones, but this document. (GPX file) You are doing the Hurst Green start (paragraph 164 on page 11) of the Edenbridge to Westerham walk. After this joins the main walk route, you follow that to Ide Hill (paragraphs 45 to 129).

Here you have a choice:

- You can, if you wish, just finish the walk to Westerham (the 11.6 mile option), passing lovely (but crowded) Emmetts Garden with its tea kiosk. But I am aware that this ending was done by some only a few weeks back on the Sevenoaks to Westerham walk. Emmetts Garden apart, it does not have any more bluebells either, though Westerham has nice tea options

- The alternative is to switch at Ide Hill (and ONLY at Ide Hill!!!) to the Book 2 Hurst Green to Chiddingstone Causeway walk - this document, this GPX file - picking up the directions from the Cock Inn on page 6 (so you only need pages 6-8). You then have a very pleasant stroll downhill (lovely at this time of year, with some more minor bluebell woods and so my preferred option) to the very nice Little Brown Jug pub opposite Penshurst station (12.2 miles from Hurst Green).

Lunch on either walk can be had in several places. The small pub in Crookham Hill always seems to be booked. The National Trust Cafe at Chartwell does hot food but in somewhat small portions. You can divert to the Fox and Hounds pub (directions provided), though this pub always seems to be a bit sniffy about walkers. Or you can hold on to the Cock Inn in Ide Hill 7.2 miles into the walk. This can be busy on a sunny day (though it was OK three weeks ago) but - as far as I know - does food all afternoon, so arriving after the main rush might not be tragic. In emergencies, Ide Hill has a nice community shop which does some food and has some tables. If you had lunch earlier, it is a possible tea stop.

Trains back from Penshurst are at 17.27 and 18.27 direct to Victoria - enjoy these through services, because after 20 May you will have to change at Redhill, albeit with a range of new Thameslink connections from there - or at 18.31 and 19.31, changing at Tonbridge, 20.27 changing at Redhill, 20.31 changing at Tonbridge or 22.21 changing at Redhill. These trains go in opposite directions from opposite platforms, so make sure you wait on the right side. Even with the changes, journey time is only just over an hour and because of engineering works this weekend the Tonbridge trains run into Victoria not Charing Cross, so plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose - ha ha ha!

From Westerham you need to get a bus. The 594/595 runs at 16.33 and 17.33 to Oxted railway station, from where there are several trains an hour to London (your Hurst Green ticket is valid from Oxted). Otherwise the 246  (a London service, usual London bus fare, Oyster accepted) goes at 22 and 52 past till 18.22, then 19.22, 20.22, 21.13, 22.14, 23.15 to Hayes station (27 minutes) or Bromley South (38 minutes)

** SHORTER OPTIONS You can combine the Hurst Green start with the shorter ending of the Edenbridge to Westerham Walk. This makes a walk of 12km (7.5 miles). This misses out Ide Hill but still passes some bluebell woods, including a very nice one just beyond Mariners Hill which is not passed on the main walk. Lunch on this walk is at Chartwell, unless you can get into the pub in Crookham Hill. A shortcut to Emmetts Garden also cuts the main walk down to 14.6km (9.1 miles), again missing out Ide Hill but including most of the other delights of the escarpment walk: this is a good choice if you want time to explore the garden. Details of all these options and prompts telling you when to switch to them are in the Edenbridge to Westerham walk document.


Anonymous said...

Bus 404 stops next to Cock Inn in Ide Hill to either Edenbridge (16:11 and 18:20) or to Sevenoaks (13:55 and 17:00). Good or those who wish to take a short cut but do not want to miss Ide Hill Bluebells

Anonymous said...

Bus 404 may not run on weekends. Please check

Anonymous said...

Bring carrots for the Llamas at Ide Hill. Not cubed, as they can choke on these.

Sean said...

Llamas? I think you'll find they're donkeys. But you're right, the three of them like carrots (sliced lengthways).

The bluebells at Ide Hill are fully out but I reckon the display is better on the extensive south-facing bank at Emmetts Garden. You can't see them from the public footpath but NT members can go through the South Garden to find them.

Bus 404 is Mon-Fri only.

Walker said...

11 gathered on the platform in the already w=hot-sun, but by mid morning we were mysteriously 13 and at lunch I learned 5 had got off the front of the train and not bothered to join us mid platform for the meet and greet. So n=16 (possibly even 18, but I am not going to be greedy).

A gorgeous day out at a gorgeous time of year. Lambs were in the field, there were intense carpets of dandelions, the foliage was bright green, and stitchwort lined the lanes. Lots of butterflies (including my first red admiral of the season) and varied birdsong.

It is now evident, however, that there is something amiss with the bluebells this year. One delight of this walk is a series of little woods that are normally thick blue-purple carpets in early May. But in some bluebells were barely visible and in others there was a thin covering - a blue mist but no blue sea. Reasonable displays could be found on Mariner’s Hill (a tad off piste, so only three of us saw these) and on the lower slopes of Ide Hill. But only in one coppiced (felled) area were they really good, plus in another off piste area where the trees were sweet chestnut and so the foliage was not yet out. These latter two areas are the key to the puzzle, I think. What I think happened was that the bluebells were caught on the hop by the rapid advance of foliage in the hot third week of April, when we went from bare trees to nearly all leafing in five days. The period when the leaves are part out is normally the bluebells time. This year they were shaded out.

Support for this came late in the walk when we went off the path a bit and ended up in a fenced wood that was in intense flower. Here were bluebells thick and lush, as they should have been all the walk, a poignant sight.

Lunch was had at Chartwell, which has upped its game and now has an efficient and quick ordering system and decent food portions. Some did the short ending from here. Some talked of going to Emmetts Garden by the short cut and on to Westerham but I don’t know how many did. Around half of us carried on to Ide Hill to the Community Shop and Cafe there for a fine tea with a glorious escarpment view. We then had a long but idyllic walk down through fields and woods and along lanes to the Little Brown Jug by Penshurst station. (Making a 12 mile walk: proponents of 19 milers take note that we were all exhausted by the end of this). The pub was busy and lost marks for slow bar service and music blaring in its garden, but four of us decided to eat there and the food came quickly. It was lovely (though surprisingly a tad chilly) sitting in the golden sunset as insects milled about in the air. We got the 7.31pm train to Tonbridge, exhausted but happy.