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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, 20 April 2019

Saturday Walk - Penshurst via Bough Beech Circular - small bluebell woods, gentle Kentish countryside

Length: 21.5km (13.4 miles)...or 18km (11.2 miles) with a morning short cut, 15.5km (9.6 miles) with an afternoon short cut, 12km (7.4 miles) with both short cuts. T=3.300

Toughness: 5 out of 10

10.10 train from Charing Cross (10.13 Waterloo East, 10.19 London Bridge), to Tonbridge, changing there (arriving 10.51, departing 11.01) for the (Redhill-bound) train to Penshurst, arriving 11.09.

(If you want to give yourself five minutes extra to make the change, you could also get the 10.00 train from Charing Cross, 10.03 Waterloo East, 10.09 London Bridge, which arrives at Tonbridge at 10.46.)

Buy a day return to Penshurst.

For walk directions click here. For a GPX file click here. For a map of the walk click here.

This walk was last done in Arctic conditions during the “Mini-Beast from the East” in March 2018. But even then I noticed it had several small bluebell woods. Let us see what they look like under (hopefully...) more clement conditions.

The route has lots more charms besides, skirting round the top of the Bough Beech Reservoir and passing its visitor centre and nature reserve (will we see the first swallows of the year swooping low over it?) and then in the afternoon looping through those perennial SWC favourites Chiddingstone and Penshurst - two villages packed with charm and historical interest (though annoyingly Chiddingstone Castle is not open on Saturdays). I am also hoping this will be fine territory for flowers, butterflies and other signs of spring.

For lunch, the Wheatsheaf after 5.9 miles is described as "likely to be fully booked at weekends" (we were the only customers during the Mini-Beast!!) but it does have a non-bookable garden and does food till 4pm (according to its website), so it might be worth dawdling a bit to reach it after the main rush. Alternatively, don't dawdle but scooch on another 2 miles to Chiddingstone to the Castle Inn: it also has a garden and serves food till 3pm.

All the above distances can be cut by 3.5km (2.2 miles) if you take a morning short cut and you can save 6km (3.7 miles) if you take an afternoon short cut that goes direct from Chiddingstone to Penshurst station (missing out Penshurst village): see the walk directions for details and for an interactive map you can play with and try out the various options.

Tea can be in the Tulip Tree tea room in Chiddingstone or Fir Tree House in Penshurst village: there are also pubs in both places, as well as the popular Little Brown Jug right opposite Penshurst station.

Trains back from Penshurst are at 22 past (from the same side of the station as the Little Brown Jug: no need to cross the footbridge), changing at Tonbridge.

There are also trains at 09 past in the other direction (across the footbridge), changing at Redhill, but these involve a 23 minute change at Redhill for a Thameslink train to London Bridge (etc) via East Croydon: they are no quicker than those at 22 past if you are heading back to central London but may be more convenient for some South Londoners.


Walker said...

London Bridge was BUSY on Good Friday morning, possibly due to services diverted from other stations due to engineering works. Ticket queues were LONG. If you need to buy a ticket on the day, ideally get today’s train at Charing Cross. If you must get on at London Bridge, go to the back (southern) end of the station, exit and turn left for 80 metres or so to find a little-known commuter entrance. There are two ticket machines no one knows about there... (Don’t tell anyone else: they will be our little secret)

Walker said...

N=30 on this walk on w=the-most-perfect-sunny-day-ever: the sky a deep blue. Was there ever such a beautiful day at such a beautiful time of year? I am the wrong person to write this report because fifteen minutes after starting the walk I was lost. Not geographically but in rapture at the beauties of nature: little bluebell woods, a great yellow sea of oilseed rape, chirruping chaffinches, orange tip butterflies, verge and woodland flowers, fields of dandelions, tall green grass, fresh green foliage. I and a similarly nature-loving companion soon fell behind.

Down by Bough Beech Reservoir I asked the birders if they had seen any swallows. “Loads, mate. Stopping a day and flying on north.” Any staying here, though? “Go to the oast: there are lots there.” But at the oast (the Visitor Centre) no swallows were to be seen. Nothing but more butterflies and the flitting of insects. Only at lunch did I hear about the cuckoos. “Surely you heard the cuckoos? There were several of them. They were singing for ages.” But no, to my great regret, I did not hear any cuckoos there or all day.

By the time we got to lunch, some walkers were already leaving. The pub was busy but not complaining about it - bravo! - and the garden was an idyllic place to linger. Three of us stragglers ordered and waited. One meal came, two did not. Shadows lengthened. Finally we enquired and it became clear our orders had been forgot. They were hastily cooked. We finally left about 4pm.

There were now four of us and two did a bit of a shortcut to get to the surprisingly empty Tulip Tea Room in Chiddingstone by 4.40pm, a wise precaution as they stopped serving cake at 4.45pm. Another of our party had to be content with takeaway tea. On we four then ploughed as the sun sank lower and the world got ever more beautiful. We had a rest and a drink at the Leicester Arms in Penshurst, commented on flowers and trees, heard a willow warbler, and said goodbye to the setting sun several times only to have it peek over the horizon again. We finally got to Penshurst station in time to get the 8.20pm train, but we let it go to have dinner in the Little Brown Jug (fabulous vegan burger!), getting the 9.20pm. And so home, having made good use of the day, I venture to suggest.

Would love to hear how any of the others got on.

Brian said...

Can't fault Walker's description - a perfect walk on a perfect day. Carpets of bluebells in woods, hay-cutting producing the intoxicating aroma of new-cut grass, excellent company and a nicely-judged lunch stop - even if we sandwich eaters had to use a bus shelter, Bough Beech being that rarety, a village with a pub but no church. Three of us walked on to Chiddingstone, arriving about 3pm by an unintended shortcut, saw the Chiding Stone and then a different two strolled to Penshurst, enjoyed tea and cake at the Fir Tree tea room(kindly provided by my companion, as I'd conveniently left my wallet in the car)before walking across parkland to Penshurst station in beautiful late afternoon sunshine, arriving about 6pm. A great day.