Backup Only

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, 15 February 2020

Saturday Walk - Tonbridge Circular via Tudeley with or without Capel extension (formerly Tonbridge to Hadlow)

Length: 25.0 km (15.5 mi) [19.3 km/12.0 mi w/o the extension]
Ascent/Descent: 190m [119m w/o the extension]
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ½ hours [4 ½ w/o the extension].
Toughness: 5 out of 10 [3 out of 10 w/o the extension]

Take the 10.07 Hastings train from Charing Cross (W’loo East 10.10, LBG 10.16), arrives Tonbridge 10.58.
From Victoria take the 10.12 Ramsgate train via Bromley South, arrives Tonbridge 10.51, and wait.
Return trains: six per hour.

This - recently fully revised - varied walk takes in a low-lying area of parkland, farm fields, paddocks, orchards and a country park of historical interest in the Medway Valley  around Tonbridge  (pronounced Tunbridge: see Walk Notes). It is not a particularly scenic walk but it does include the chance to visit a unique church.
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 at Capel is on the Long Walk route (see below). 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 from 10.00-16.00.
After a lunch stop in a country pub the walk loops back to Tonbridge, with the riverside route into the town centre being rather more appealing than the urban stretch at the start of the walk. The remainder of the afternoon is a loop through Haysden Country Park to the west of the town, a popular recreational area alongside the River Medway. Its most obvious features are the large fishing and sailing lakes created after sand and gravel extraction ceased in 1980, but closer inspection will reveal the chequered history of several attempts in the 19thC to improve navigation on the river by altering its course and building canals.

Walk Options:
The shorter Main Walk has a Figure-of-8 shape and you can easily shorten both it and the Long Walk by cutting out some or all of the afternoon loop through Haysden. Several short cuts are described inside the Country Park but you could omit it altogether, either by looping around the large recreation ground or simply heading directly to the station.
A few other short cuts are mentioned in the directions. In particular you could take a more direct route out of Tonbridge at the start, although the most direct route would be an unappealing stretch along a busy main road.
If you wish to abandon the walk on its eastern loop there is an infrequent bus service (Mon–Sat) along the B2017, passing Tudeley church and the two crossing points on the Long Walk.

Lunch: The Dovecote Inn (9.0 km/5.6 mi, food to 14.00) in Capel on the long walk, or The Poacher & Partridge (8.0 km/5.0 mi, food all day) in Tudeley Hale, on the shorter Main Walk, plus more options for late lunch in Tonbridge before commencing the westerly loop of the route. See the webpage or the pdf for details.
Tea: Plenty options in Tonbridge. See the webpage or the pdf for details.

For walk directions, maps, height profiles, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.220.a

Swapped with Stargazer...

4 comments:

Sean said...

If you would normally travel to Tonbridge via Redhill (eg. from the Croydon area), you probably know that the Redhill-Tonbridge line is out of action for several months because of a landslip at Godstone. The good news is that you can travel via London Bridge on the cheaper "Not via London" ticket while the line is closed. See https://www.southernrailway.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/ for full information about alternative travel arrangements.

Anonymous said...

the link appears to take you to the Bruton walk

Thomas G said...

...so it did (that was the walk posting I had drafted b4 doing this posting)... correct now. Ta

Thomas G said...

2 off the train, 2 already on the platform, 1 other on a later train, making use of the through-town-shortcut to catch us: n=5
Lots of water, in various convenient or not so convenient ways: as the Medway River (muddy-brown and kind of full), mill streams, channels, backwaters, streams, ditches, drainage channels etc. or as standing water on paths or in underpasses, as impromptu lakes in meadows, or even in overflowing reservoirs (see below) or just as rain.
In reality, only one short bit was impassable: close to the start, the Racecourse Meadows, where an alternative route was easy to find. There was some mud of course, especially in the orchards and on arable fields, but neither deep nor clingy. The rain started at 12.45 and kind of didn't stop, the wind was kind of disappointing if you were expecting the hyped-up 'Storm Dennis' danger. There were some gusts that made trees sway and supplied a bit of an exciting soundtrack, but it was a very far cry from 70 km/h-difficult to stand up in-type storm winds, as some forecasts had it.
A record long time was spent at the "Marc Chagall-Church" in Tudeley to allow for diligent study of the stained glass windows. We then split up into 2 walking the Extension via Capel and 3 not doing that. Us 2 paced past the 1st pub on the extension, the George & Dragon, aiming for the recommended Dovecote Inn, studied the excellent wall paintings at the church in Capel and proceeded to the pub only to there find the Landlady tossing out soggy carpets and wet furniture from it: they had been flooded last Sunday when the previous named storm had passed through and were shut. Nearby Pembury Reservoir had overflowed, apparently...
On to the Poacher & Partridge then (fine views en route into the Medway Valley), where we arrived just in time to take over the table from the 3 others in the group. What a nice pub! Fireplace, busy but fast, good food, plenty of choice, capable and friendly staff.
Later the 2 of us somehow got separated and I walked the Haysden Country Park loop west of Tonbridge by myself. Enjoyable, but will be even more so in decent weather! All in, a good workout and nowhere near as bad (the weather) as forecast. In the end, there had been so much standing water that my boots were exceptionally clean! w=dry-to-midday-then-wet