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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, 18 January 2020

Saturday walk - Aylesford Circular or to Maidstone

Length: 19km (11.8 miles) to Maidstone, 17.5km (10.9 miles) for the circular T=3.330
Toughness: 5 out of 10

9.55 Southeastern High Speed service from St Pancras International to Strood, arriving 10.28, changing there for the 10.34 train to Aylesford, arriving 10.50.


9.10 train from Charing Cross (9.13 Waterloo East, 9.19 London Bridge) to Paddock Wood, arriving 9.58, changing there for the 10.11 train to Aylesford, arriving 10.40. (If you slow train-ers would like to wait ten minutes there for the fast train-ers, that would be nice, but we wouldn't blame you if you don't... If you just miss the above train, get the 9.15 from Charing Cross, 9.18 Waterloo East, 9.24 London Bridge, getting on the front end of the train, and change at Tonbridge - but you only have six minutes to cross the footbridge for the connecting train.)

Buy a day return to "Maidstone stations": if you are going on the high speed you have to get a "plus high speed" ticket and you can't buy from LT fare boundaries: on the Charing Cross option neither applies. If you are absolutely definitely determined to do the circular walk, a day return to Aylesford (NOT Aylesbury or Aylesham!!!) is apparently cheaper,

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.

This Kentish walk had its launch back in April, but I thought it might be interesting to give it another airing at a different time of year. It includes the author's trademark proximity to a busy road at one point, but also includes panoramic views and has a great list of points of interest. There seems to be a choice of pubs for lunch, with the Butcher's Block described as "welcoming" back in April. As for mud quotient: your guess is as good as mine. You are in the North Downs area, so chalk soils might be well drained. But then again, they might not.

Towards the end of the walk you have a choice of looping back to finish in Aylesford or carrying on along the river into the centre of Maidstone.

Trains back from Aylesford are at 10 and 40 past the hour, to Strood, changing there for the high speed train to St Pancras, if you have a ticket for that (1hr journey time to London). For Charing Cross or London Bridge the only train is the 20 past to Tonbridge (ie in the opposite direction to Strood: 1hr 35 minutes to London).

Trains back from Maidstone are at 04 and 29 past and take just over an hour to Victoria, via Bromley South

1 comment:

Walker said...

N=18 on this walk. Six came on the high speed train, to find two habitual car drivers waiting for them, and to hear that ten who had come on the normal train via Tonbridge had already left. It was w=a-perfect-sunny-day: not only no cloud, but no wind either.

A walk around a car park would probably have seemed idyllic on such a day, but even so the start of this walk along the river to the old centre of Aylesford was an unexpected delight. We popped into the church to find the vicar approaching with a beaming smile and a cup of tea. The ungodly among us (including me) beat a hasty retreat from this, but three stayed, and their reward was to be shown a shorter route. So despite us leaving before them we all met up in the fields later.

At the risk of overdoing the religious allusions, we then all got to the Butcher’s Block to be told there was no room at the inn. The slow train lot were ensconced inside, but there was some tale of woe from the bar staff about how they could not serve more despite having oodles of empty tables. So five of us repaired to the Windmill, very much a locals pub, where we received a friendly enough welcome and coaxed fish and chips and baked potatoes out of a slightly harassed lady in the kitchen.

The section after lunch was glorious - a fabulous climb up to the alpine heights of the North Downs, from the top of which it felt like you could see to Land’s End. Who knew such viewpoints existed in this area? We then had the necessary kilometre long trek alongside a dual carriageway (the particulates in my lungs needed topping up, thanks), followed by the surreal sight of the ancient stones of the Kitty Cat House (or whatever it is called) standing in a field.

Our exploration of the other ancient monuments was curtailed by the fact that the sun was getting rather low. We pressed on, getting back to the Medway at dusk. Here earnest intentions to carry on into Maidstone melted away for many of us. Or rather two went that way (and possibly lots of others in the group earlier) but five of us turned instead to do the pretty walk into Aylesford in the gloaming (the time after sunset and before dark, to save you googling it). Aylesford high street was dead as a door nail, but the Chequers was quite busy. We had drinks here, with pots of tea arriving, then milk, and eventually, much later, cups. Or rather two had pots and we then exhausted the pub’s supply and the third had to have a tea bag in a cup. (I don’t get the impression they are asked to do tea often.)

On to the station, walking the river in torchlight to get the 18.10 (?) to Strood. One poor soul was left to get the 18.20 via Tonbridge.