From Shoreham to Lullingstone

A fairly easy circular walk around the magnificent estate surrounding medieval Penshurst Place.

NEAREST LOCATION

Shoreham

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

5 miles (8kms)

ASCENT
656ft (200m)
TIME
2hrs 30min
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Hard
STARTING POINT
TQ517615

About the walk

The Darent Valley is one of Kent’s prettiest areas. This walk passes through a toothsome slab of scenery around the delightful riverside village of Shoreham, full of historic buildings and associations. One of Shoreham’s highlights is its church, which has a magnificent carved rood screen, a star-spangled chancel ceiling, and a Burne-Jones window. The Colgate family (of toothpaste fame) lived at Filston Hall, just south of the village.

It’s lucky that so many fine old buildings have survived, for Shoreham was one of the most heavily bombed villages anywhere in Britain in World War II – several manor houses were requisitioned by the army, and these became a target. Many local people were killed in action.

Shoreham Aircraft Museum, run by volunteers from a private house in the High Street (open summer weekends and bank holidays), tells how a German Dornier was shot down at Castle Farm in 1940, landing in the middle of an astonished crowd of hop-pickers. The two-man crew survived and were captured by the Home Guard, who bought them a brandy at a nearby pub before handing them over to the authorities.

Above Shoreham High Street, the whitewashed cross carved in the hillside is a memorial to the casualties of World War I. During World War II it was covered with earth to hide it from enemy aircraft. 

Visit Shoreham in high summer and you may feel you’ve accidentally strayed into some Provençal village. From mid-June to early August the perfectly combed hillsides above Castle Farm erupt into a blaze of deep imperial purple when the lavender fields bloom. It's a sight – and a scent – to gladden the heart. Castle Farm is one of the UK's biggest lavender growers, producing oils and essences for culinary, cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses. You can buy the kiln-dried flowers and a host of prettily packaged lavender products at Castle Farm’s on-site Hop Shop. A festival is held just before the harvest, with tours and lots of special events. The farm shop sells lots of other local produce, from home-reared beef and freshly pressed apple juice to ornamental hop bines and dried flowers.

Walk directions

Turn right from the Filston Lane car park and walk past the Church Street junction, along the High Street. At The Landway, just past Shoreham Aircraft Museum at No. 13, turn left and walk up the footpath to a kissing gate and hedged path. Go through a further kissing gate into a field and keep ahead towards woodland. Go through a kissing gate at the field margin, and climb steps through the woods to meet a crossing path.

Turn right along the woods. In 400yds (366m) reach a clearing. The Shoreham Cross memorial is below.

Continue along the hillside path to the end of Meenfield Wood, past a vehicle barrier, and carry on across a field, losing height steadily. At the end turn left briefly to emerge onto a lane.

Turn right and downhill, bearing left past a junction to your right in a few paces. Keep going, then turn left up Cockerhurst Road, signed 'Well Hill/Chelsfield'. Turn half right onto a footpath opposite a bungalow and follow the path uphill past hawthorn bushes to a stile. Bear left, following the path beside fields towards Homewood Farm at the crest of the hill. Bear left at the farm, following a fence, and continue out to Redmans Lane.

Turn left here, and after another 100 paces cross a stile to your right and follow a footpath ahead. Go over a stile, past a farm and through a metal gate into Lullingstone Country Park.

Turn right at a crossing path, signed 'Visitor Centre', and keep straight ahead on the main path through mixed woodland. Bear right where the path forks (follow the black waymarkers). Reach the edge of the woods in about 0.75 miles (1.2km), then follow a track leading downhill towards Lullingstone Visitor Centre.

Turn right from the centre along a field path parallel to the road, calling in at Castle Farm and the Hop Shop, reached via a little bridge to your left. Return to the path, and where the road takes a sharp right-hand bend, cross the road and take the footpath to your left. Keep ahead over fields, following waymarkers until you meet the River Darent at a kissing gate. Follow the river past a weir. Emerge onto a lane and turn briefly left, then right past Mill House, following the path over a footbridge. Turn immediately right past waterfront cottages on the opposite bank. The river is now on your right-hand side.

Follow the river to reach Church Street by the bridge. Turn right to the T-junction at the High Street. (Alternatively, turn left here to visit the church, then retrace your steps straight down to the High Street.) Turn left, and in a few paces you will be back at the car park.

Additional information

Village streets and lanes; field, woodland and riverside paths; some strenuous climbs; several stiles

Rolling fields and woods around a historic village; valley views

Good, but some road walking

OS Explorer 147 Sevenoaks & Tonbridge

Shoreham car park (free)

Shoreham village hall (seasonal); Lullingstone Visitor Centre

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Walking in safety

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About the area

Discover Kent

The White Cliffs of Dover are an English icon – the epitome of our island heritage and sense of nationhood. They also mark the point where the Kent Downs AONB, that great arc of chalk downland stretching from the Surrey Hills and sometimes known as ‘the Garden of England’, finally reaches the sea. This is a well-ordered and settled landscape, where chalk and greensand escarpments look down into the wooded Weald to the south.

Many historic parklands, including Knole Park and Sir Winston Churchill’s red-brick former home at Chartwell, are also worth visiting. Attractive settlements such as Charing, site of Archbishop Cranmer’s Tudor palace, and Chilham, with its magnificent half-timbered buildings and 17th-century castle built on a Norman site, can be found on the Pilgrim’s Way, the traditional route for Canterbury-bound pilgrims in the Middle Ages. 

In the nature reserves, such as the traditionally coppiced woodlands of Denge Wood and Earley Wood, and the ancient fine chalk woodland of Yockletts Bank high on the North Downs near Ashford, it is still possible to experience the atmosphere of wilderness that must have been felt by the earliest travellers along this ancient ridgeway.