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A hike into the ‘Garden of England’ - River Darent two castles trail

A hike into the ‘Garden of England’ - River Darent two castles trail

Length: 14.1km (8.8 miles), 4 hours. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow 8-9 hours.

Toughness: 5 out of 10.

Start and End: We will meet at Victoria station at 10:20. This should give us enough time to get into groups and get the group discount tickets. The full price is £10.60 so if we get 4 travels for the price of 2 discount, we could pay £5.30 for return ticket each. Please make sure you have the exact change on the day – it will be easier to sort this out when it comes to paying in the groups.

I will be waiting for you at the station, next to the information sign, in front of the ticket offices from 10:20. At 10:35 we will make our way to the platform and we will take the 10:45 train to Otford. We will arrive there at 11:20. Journey duration: 35 minutes. Train: SOUTH EASTERN TRAINS

Cost: £5.5. This includes guided walk only.

Features: We venture to Kent and this walk certainly illustrates why it's known as the "Garden of England". We start off in the village of Otford which dates back nearly 2000 years. A delightful rural walk which amongst other things will take us past two castles – Eynsford castle and Lullingstone castle and along a stretch of the river Darwent.

Along the way there will be some gorgeous countryside, rolling fields and we'll pass a couple of woods and rural villages too as well as some far stretching hill top views. In fact, the area’s beauty has attracted people back to Roman times and in 80AD Lullingstone Villa was constructed for a wealthy Roman who was keen on pagan worship.

The walk has two steep uphill sections and the first half can be very muddy. The suggested route takes in three villages steeped in history, a ruined palace, two castles and a Roman villa. At times the route runs alongside the River Darent, at other times through fields and woods. At the start of the walk there is the Otford Solar System, which claims to be the only scale model of its kind in the world; it shows the relative position of the sun and planets at the start of the new millennium. In the afternoon, you come to Lullingstone Park with its (early summer) orchids; its Visitor Centre offers exhibitions and information about the park (and has a café). Towards the end of the walk you pass Lullingstone Castle with its new visitor attraction, the World Garden, and Lullingstone Roman Villa.

Please note that we will not be entering the Lullingstone Castle grounds. We will take photos from outside.

IMPORTANT: By taking part in this meet-up you agree to the following disclaimer: I acknowledge that hiking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. My decision to voluntarily participate in these activities is an informed decision and I am aware of and shall accept such risks. I agree to be responsible for my own actions and involvement in these activities.

History: Otford goes back to the sixth century when the Anglo-Saxons called their settlement Ottanford ('Otta's ford'). The Archbishop's Palace in Otford, the remaining fragments of which are on open view, once rivalled Hampton Court for splendour, until Henry VIII forced Archbishop Cranmer to surrender it in 1537.

Construction of St Bartholomew's Church, Otford, began in 1060, with the tower being added in 1175. The church contains large marble memorials to Charles and David Polhill, great-grandsons of Oliver Cromwell.

The artist Samuel Palmer lived and worked in Shoreham from 1826 to 1834. He was the leader of a group who followed William Blake and called themselves The Ancients. Palmer's father, also called Samuel, rented the Water House by the river.

The Church of St Peter and St Paul in Shoreham has many interesting features, including an outstanding wooden rood screen spanning the width of the building and a stained glass window by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones.

Lullingstone Park was a deer park from the Middle Ages until World War II, when the park was used as a decoy airfield – the heavy bombing so terrified the deer that they escaped. Species of tree that deer would not eat have been planted through the centuries, thus ancient hornbeam pollards remain.

Lullingstone Castle (tel[masked]) is the residence of the Hart Dyke family, having remained in the Dyke family for centuries, with the original house built during the reign of Henry VII. Its gatehouse is one of the earliest all-brick buildings in Britain. In the grounds is the World Garden, containing plants from around the globe, which is open to visitors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons between April and September (and Bank Holiday Mondays). The House is only open on Bank Holiday weekends. Admission (2010) is £6.

Lullingstone Roman Villa (tel[masked]) was first occupied in 80AD by a rich Roman who practised pagan worship of the local water sprite in a room here, which later became a Christian temple. The ruins include two mosaic floors. It is normally open daily (not Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day) from 10am to 6pm in summer, 4pm in winter (October to the end of March). Admission (2010) is £5.90.

St Martin's Church in Eynsford is unusual in having retained the Norman ground plan with apsidal chancel. In about 1163, Thomas à Becket excommunicated Sir William de Eynsford III, the Lord of the Manor who controlled the patronage for this church. The excommunication was cancelled by Henry II and the issue became part of the quarrel which led to Becket's murder.

Eynsford Castle (free entry) was built in the eleventh century and vandalised in 1312. John de Eynsford, who lived there, is said to have assisted in Becket's murder.

http://www.walkingclub.org.uk/book_1/walk_23/index.shtml

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  • A former member
    A former member

    This was a fantastic hike. I'd never heard of Otford before or realised it was such a beautiful village with stunning surroundings (and a couple of castles!). Well done Kat for organising.

    June 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This sound amazing and I would really like to join some of your meet ups- they sound fun. Unfortunately, I already have plans. But enjoy!

    May 30, 2012

  • Seher

    Hi Kat

    Thanks for a lovely day in Kent which I really enjoyed it . I am sorry I had to leave early.
    Looking forward to the next adventure! :)

    Seher

    May 29, 2012

  • Amanda

    Fantastic day, great company too!

    May 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very well organised despite the best attempts of national rail. Glorious day and delightful group.

    May 28, 2012

  • Kat

    It was a great day! thank you all for coming, it was a pleasure to meet you all. :)

    May 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    The hiking is fantastic, and I really enjoy the nice view. Countryside and seaside are my favorites. I met so many new people from different cultures, our group are really nice. Looking forward to next trip.

    May 27, 2012

  • Janice

    I really enjoyed the hike and the group!

    May 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    It was a great hike along the countryside on a perfect sunny weather. With new friends, it couldn't have been better :-)

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    Coach number 8, find us on the train. :)

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    We are on the 11:08 train to seven oaks. Are u on it?

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    We r in between the cashiers and information booth. Please call me on[masked]

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    I'm between the information and the main ticket offices. Wearing a meet up t-shirt.

    May 27, 2012

  • Connie

    Me too, charing cross is easier. Are we taking the 10:38 or 11:08 train?

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    Hey Simon, it would be a bit difficult as if we set a meeting point it will delay the journey and we will miss the connecting trains. But I have uploaded a screen shot of the revised journey plan - so u r welcome to just try and find us on the train or meet us at Otford. My number is 07832297917. Thank you.

    May 27, 2012

  • Seher

    Hi Kat, in this case it's easier for me to meet you in Charing Cross as well.

    May 27, 2012

  • Simon

    Hi, charing cross is much easier for me to get so I'll go there and find you all. If this causes any confusion let me know and I'll come to Victoria.

    May 27, 2012

  • Kat

    Girls, you are right, the trains have changed slightly and there is a rail replacement bus in the last part of the way, but I thought it would be easier to meet everyone where I said I would meet them and then take the tube together to charring cross, rather then risk changing the meeting point last minute and end up with some people travelling to Victoria and some to charring cross. I hope it makes sense?

    May 26, 2012

  • Connie

    Emma you are right. I can only see a Southeasten train to Otford leaving from Charing Cross.

    May 26, 2012

  • Kat

    10:20. ;)

    May 26, 2012

  • Kat

    We will spend some time at the ruins at te end though, so you will still get to see something. :)

    May 23, 2012

  • Kat

    Colin, we will not be going into the castles during the walk - if you would like more of a sightseeing adventure, please join me for jousting at Hever Castle. :)

    May 23, 2012

  • Kat

    Amanda, It's absolutely fine if you would like to meet us there. :) Please make sure you are on time as i wouldn't keep the group waiting. We will arrive there at 11:20 and leave the station at 11:30.

    May 23, 2012

  • Sol

    away in france, sorry

    May 23, 2012

19 went

  • Kat
    Curious Kat, Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Janice
    Assistant Organizer
  • Simon +1
  • Rob
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
    +1 guest
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

Your organizer's refund policy for A hike into the ‘Garden of England’ - River Darent two castles trail

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