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.

I will be waiting for you at the station, next to the information sign, in front of the ticket offices from 10:20. At 10:30 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.

Price includes return train tickets, walk and paypal fees.

Features: We venture into the heart of 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 2,000 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 Darent.

Along the way there will be some gorgeous countryside, rolling fields and we will pass a couple of woods and rural villages 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, we come to Lullingstone Park; its Visitor Centre offers exhibitions and information about the park (and has a café). Towards the end of the walk we pass Lullingstone Castle with its new visitor attraction, the World Garden.

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. The organiser does not take any responsibility for my safety. 

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.

 

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 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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  • Kat

    Hi guys, Jon has just sent me interesting news about Lullingstone Castle:
    Had Tom Hart Dyke been born 100 years earlier, he would probably be enjoying the Downton lifestyle at his family seat, Lullingstone Castle. The castle, in the pretty county of Kent some 20 miles southeast of London, has been in his family since 1497. But in 1931, Mr. Hart Dyke's great-grandparents both died in quick succession, leaving his grandfather, Sir Oliver Hart Dyke, facing huge death duties—an inheritance tax which used to be paid on property. To meet the bill, Sir Oliver was forced to sell off almost all of his land and, in the 1950s, took the radical step of carving up his home. Mr. Hart Dyke's parents now have a four-bedroom apartment within the castle. The rest of the building is split into five self-contained units which were sold off, along with two houses in the grounds. In 2010, the castle's south wing went on the market for about $2.8 million and sold at close to that price.

    January 4, 2013

    • Kat

      "Every generation has had their own way of battling on, and without [the sales], the house would have literally collapsed," says Mr. Hart Dyke, 36, a horticulturalist who lives in the castle's gate house and runs its World Garden of Plants, containing rare species he has collected from around the globe. He says he doesn't mind the splitting up of the family's property. "It is something I have grown up with, and it is a way of keeping the house going. We are still here and that is the main thing," he says.

      To read the entire article, please follow the link: http://online.wsj.com...­

      January 4, 2013

  • Kat

    Hi guys, I have checked the GPS and we did 16km. Moving time was 3 hours 33 minutes. average moving speed was 4.5km per hour. Maximum speed was 12km per hour. Total ascent was 310 metres, total descent was 332 metres.

    December 9, 2012

    • Kat

      Oh, I haven't noticed you already posted it. Was it in the photos? Sorry, I hope you don't mind?

      December 11, 2012

    • Kristina

      Hah...no wonder my legs hurt all Monday :) good job...and thanks for organising again

      December 11, 2012

  • Anna

    Fantastic! Well organised, fun and such a great bunch of people.

    December 11, 2012

  • Kat

    I'be looked up the oast houses: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/...­

    December 10, 2012

  • AMIT

    Well organised meetup, good group, good hike, pleasant & friendly people

    December 9, 2012

  • Kat

    Fantastic day! It was lovely to share it with you all!

    December 9, 2012

  • Pauline H.

    So annoyed not to be able to make it today but hope everyone has a brilliant time!

    December 9, 2012

  • Pauline H.

    Hi Kat

    I'm a newbie too but looking forward to some fresh air and good company :)

    Pauline

    December 8, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Kat,
    I am as well new here and I've just decided to join in, hope that's alright!? Sorry for asking but would it be possible to get any number of you or someone else in case I won't find you tomorrow? Would be great in case somethings goes wrong... Looking forward to tomorrow! Greetings, Stine

    December 8, 2012

    • Kat

      Sure, it's 07832297917. It will be available tomorrow at the meeting time.

      December 8, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks!!

      December 8, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Kat,
    I'm very interested to join you in this lovely walk. However I live locally and I was wondering if I could join you at Otford station? Thanks

    December 8, 2012

  • Carole

    Hi Kat,
    I have a big cold, I'm not sure to be able to come on Sunday....
    Carole

    December 7, 2012

  • Kristina

    Hi Kat I am a newcomer too and have just decided to join :P

    I have paid but just fyi when you are buying tickets...I have a young persons rail card so you can get the ticket cheaper :) I am not bothered about the price difference but thought it's worth mentioning :) that you can save a few pennies

    December 5, 2012

    • Kat

      Hi Kristina,

      Thank you. :) I'm looking forward to meeting you.

      Thank you,
      Kat

      December 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Kat, will it be ok for a newcomer to join this adventure?

    December 3, 2012

    • Kat

      Of course, please do! :)

      December 3, 2012

  • Fiona

    Hi there - would we need to bring packed lunch, or meal provided as stated, veggie option?

    November 21, 2012

    • Kat

      Hi Fiona, we will stop for lunch. What do you mean by meal provided as stated?

      November 22, 2012

    • Fiona

      Hi Kat, ok thanks, this event will def. go ahead or waiting for minimum numbers?

      November 22, 2012

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