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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

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Wednesday Walk - The Medway Valley and Chagall's Windows: Tonbridge Circular or to Hadlow

Length: 24.2 km (15.1 mi) [or 17.0 km/10.6 mi to Hadlow]
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¾ hours [or 4 hours to Hadlow]
Toughness:  3 out of 10 [or 2 out of 10 to Hadlow]

10.00 Tunbridge Wells train from Charing Cross (W’loo East 10.03, LBG 10.09), arrives Tonbridge 10.46.
Return trains: plenty.

This walk takes in both sides of the River Medway to the east of Tonbridge  (pronounced Tunbridge: see Walk Notes), a low-lying area of meadows, farm fields, orchards and hop gardens. The scenery is pleasant rather than dramatic and features two highly unusual features: a unique church and a striking folly.
There is nothing remarkable about the exterior of All Saints, Tudeley: an old guidebook described it as “obscure and unfrequented”. Nowadays the reverse is true, because its twelve stained glass windows were all designed by the great 20thC Russian artist, Marc Chagall. Initially commissioned by Sir Henry and Lady d'Avigdor-Goldsmid to create a single memorial window after the death of their daughter Sarah in 1963, Chagall was inspired to create windows for the entire church (as he had previously done for a synagogue in Jerusalem and a chapel in France). The final group of windows were dedicated in 1985, a few months after his death at the age of 98.
Tudeley's sister church is also on the walk route. For understandable reasons St Thomas à Becket tends to be overlooked but it has a series of 13thC wall paintings. The church is no longer used for regular services but is normally open 10.00-16.00.
Throughout the walk there are occasional glimpses of its other main feature, rising high above the landscape. There can be few stranger sights on a Home Counties walk than this multi-tiered Gothic folly, taller than Nelson's Column.Hadlow Tower was built in 1838 by William Barton May as an embellishment to his equally eccentric father's extravagant house in Strawberry Hill Gothic style (“the most singular looking thing I ever saw” according to William Cobbett). Much of Hadlow Castle was demolished in 1951 but fortunately the Tower was saved; after a local campaign it has now been beautifully restored.
The walk passes Hadlow's other attraction, Broadview Gardens  (free entry). This is a collection of small landscaped gardens designed by successive generations of horticultural students at Hadlow College.

Walk Options: You can bypass the recommended lunch stop, the Dovecote Inn, by taking a shortcut which saves 2¼ km, or you can finish the walk in Hadlow and take a bus to Tonbridge (frequent service).

Lunch: The Dovecote Inn in Capel (8.7 km/5.4 mi, food to 14.00). Plus other options, see the webpage or the pdf for details.
Tea in Tonbridge: Finch House Café and Bakery  or The Humphrey Bean (Wetherspoon’s).

For walk directions, summary, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.220.a


Anonymous said...

Hi. Walk sounds great. New to group and U.K. Any advice on how to buy cheapest train ticket? Have Net Card. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just use your network rail card and get a return when you buy - all midweek walk trains start after 10am so you can get the network railcard discount.


PeteG said...

n=7 An enjoyable w=sunny little outing, with a pleasant pub where we met a granddad & grandchild on a day out. Two lingered over lunch. After tea in the garden centre cafe (lovely setting if you are outside), 2 went off to walk to Tonbridge, 3 went round the gardens & then got the bus.