Greensand Way Circular - Westerham Walk
PUBLISHED: 10:28 10 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:28 10 October 2014
The small market town of Westerham, with its many shops, historic public houses, restaurants and coffee houses, is an ideal place to start and finish this wild woodland walk
Greensand Way Circular - Westerham Walk
Location: Westerham (TN16 1RJ)
Distance: 5 miles (8km)
OS Explorer Map: 147
Time: approx. 3 hours
Terrain: Muddy, mainly woodland paths, some steep slopes
Parking: Pay and display at Westerham Town car park
Refreshments and Facilities: Westerham town centre, Public House, tearooms, restaurants and shops
Public Transport: For local bus and train services in Kent, contact Traveline tel: 0870 6082608, www.traveline.org.uk
Leave the hustle and bustle of the busy town behind you and enjoy the peace of the Kentish countryside. The small market town of Westerham, with its many shops, historic public houses, restaurants and coffee houses, is an ideal place to start and finish this wild woodland walk.
The walk begins with a hillside climb, over pastures and arable land, giving excellent views over rolling hills, historic houses and farmland. Your walk soon travels into mixed, semi-mature woodland, renowned for its carpet of spring bluebells, summer blossoms of rhododendrons and the sweet chestnuts of autumn.
Over the hills, the path crosses Squerryes Park and its famous 17th century manor house. The woodland here includes plantations and evidence of coppicing. Leaving the park, the path leads to Goodley stock, where an Iron Age hill fort can be seen through the trees.
At Kent Hatch, take the Link route that joins this trail to the main Greensand Way path. Here, older beech trees can be discovered amid the younger yew, maple, birch and chestnut, with the holly branch adding a seasonal touch to those colder winter days. Along these paths, the River Darent is visible above Westerham which adds to the diversity of habitats found in these woods.
Going steeply downhill and turning right past April Cottage, the road below continues into the woodland of Mariners Hill, which is fast recovering from the widespread damages caused by the fierce winds of the Great Storm in 1987. Since 1904, this area of woodland has been owned by the National Trust and was one of the first properties to benefit from the protection of the National Trust Act in 1907. From their felled trunks, the trees’ exposed roots have made this particular part of the trail a favourite destination for locals and dog walkers to enjoy this tranquil Kentish countryside all year round.
Through more mixed woodland, the trail leads through the well-tended roads of Chartwell, famous for being the beloved home of Sir Winston Churchill. Crossing the lane at the top of the hill, the Greensand Way heads towards French Street and embarks upon the beech, maple and hornbeam trees of Hosey Common, where the old sandstone and ragstone mines are closed to the public as they inhabit various colonies of bats. This route then tails off into Tower Woods, with its more formal planting of pine.
As the trail comes to an end the land slopes down and the path leads once more into open pastures with amazing views over the valley, Westerham and the North Downs. Past this point, open grassland leads to easier walking as the land drops away steeply towards the town and River Darent.
Upon returning to this idyllic village, try to sample some of the traditional Kentish beer. In 2004, Robert Wicks established the Westerham Brewery, made possible by the local hard water which percolates through the Lower Greensand Ridge to the south of the village. This method of brewing ales such as the IPA for which Westerham was previously famous for, has helped to revive the reputation of the traditional Kentish real beer.
To find out about other walks in Kent or for information on cycling, riding and country parks in Kent, visit www.kent.gov.uk/explorekent. Follow @explorekent on Twitter.