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Horton Kirby Walk

PUBLISHED: 18:51 13 November 2015 | UPDATED: 18:57 13 November 2015

Explore the River Darent

Explore the River Darent

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This relaxing walk takes you along one of the most picturesque stretches of the River Darent, following the banks of the river through fields and copses. An easy walk with gentle slopes makes this an ideal family day out.

Location: Horton Kirby DA4 9GR

Distance: 3.2 miles (5.1 km)

Time: Allow 1 hour 30 mins

OS Explorer Map: 162

Gates: 3

Stiles: 2

Terrain: Country lanes and woodland tracks.

Parking: Parking is available at Horton Kirby sports field.

Refreshments & facilities: Toilets are located at Horton Kirby car park and public Houses in Farningham and Horton Kirby

Leave the car park and go through the gate to follow the waymarked route to the swirling river. Follow along the tree lined banks until you reach the road. Turn left and cross over the road to join the path running alongside the well-kept village cricket field and past Franks Hall - an impressive red-brick Tudor mansion set in substantial grounds, there is historical reference which suggest Queen Elizabeth I the first may have stayed here in the late 16th century.

This section of the Darent Valley has always been an important transport corridor, taking advantage of the widening valley where the Downs begin to level out and cars and lorries are clearly visible on the skyline.

Ponies graze in the open fields and sheep can be seen on the hillsides before you re-join the river and pass under the M20 and then the A20 to head towards Farningham. Pop into Lion Hotel, a popular haunt with keen anglers including the writer Charles Dickens, where you can sit and enjoy views across the river.

The village flourished in the 18th century when it was an important overnight stop on the coach road from London to the coast and its fine inns are still popular destinations with both visitors and local residents.

Across the road from the Lion Hotel stands one of the finest mills in the valley, while a glance up the winding main street of Farningham reveals picture-book village shops and traditional Kentish weather board and flint-faced cottages.

Cross over the town bridge and past the site of a former castle and medieval fairs- now Market Meadow, a village open space. Continue up to the main street with its well-preserved stately Georgian houses and turn left just after Farningham House, opposite the Pied Bull public house, to follow the path back across the fields and along to the banks of the river.

The yellow breasts of grey wagtails are regularly seen along this stretch of the river and numerous holes in the banks are clearly the homes for small creatures including water voles. Meanwhile wrens can be spotted foraging around the base of many trees that line the river and treecreepers circle up the ivy-clad trunks. Before you head home why not try the award winning Fighting Cocks riverside pub and warm up with some comfort food, a cup of tea or a pint in the beer garden.

Cross straight over the road to return to Horton Kirby on the eastern side of the river following the path over the bridge across the weir to the car park.

To find out about other walks in Kent or for information on cycling, riding and country parks in Kent, visit the brand new Explore Kent website www.explorekent.org

Follow @explorekent on Twitter.

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