The last Friday in August offered a momentary relief from what has seemed like an endless string of rainy days. Not wanting to waste this highly uncharacteristic bout of sunshine I took it upon myself to drag a couple of friends out with me to enjoy a bit of fresh air in the beautiful Kentish countryside.
After much consideration we chose to walk the Luddesdown Trek, an 8.4 mile walk which incorporates a number of places I have enjoyed visiting in the past, such as the striking Darnley Mausoleum, Shorne Country Park, the idyllic village of Cobham and the wild flower meadows surrounding Luddesdown, into one single route.
We strategically started the route on Lodge Lane (point 18 on the map), rather than at Shorne Country Park, so that we would arrive in Cobham at around 1pm ready for a pub lunch!
So, for us the walk started along the Darnley trail, which takes you past the imposing Darnley Mausoleum, managed by the National Trust. It was built after the death of the 3rd Earl of Darnley, although rather tragically the Earl and his descendants were never actually buried here and the building remains empty to this day.
After some time you leave the trail and head across the train line and the motorway into Shorne Country Park. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see one of the Eurostar trains wiz past on its way to Paris or Brussels. The walk only takes you through the outer edge of Shorne Country Park, however, if like us you haven’t parked there, it may be worth taking a short de-tour into the main park to the visitors centre for a toilet stop, or ice cream purchases! Shorne is a great family favourite and if you’re doing the shorter walk with children, there is a great play park just beyond the car park that is always worth a visit.
On leaving Shorne you walk along the road back across the motorway and railway to Ashenbank Wood. I would highly recommend using the excellent route description guide at this point as we got a bit too confident in our ability to follow a map and managed to get slightly lost! As a result we accidently ended up in the recently developed Jeskyns Park. But, despite the error we rather enjoyed the nice contrast its open grassland landscape provided from the woods in the initial sections of the walk.
Once we had found our way out of Jeskyns we arrived in Cobham and were very much looking forwards to a well-deserved lunch at one of Cobhams great pubs. We opted for the Ship Inn which serves classic pub grub at a relatively cheap price and we probably stayed there a little longer than we perhaps should have considering we still had half of the walk to go!
The second half of the walk offers a contrasting landscape to the enclosed woodland we’d experienced so far. Here we walked through the classic Kentish countryside of undulating fields and meadows, which provided us with a number of fantastic views. During summer some of these fields are filled with beautiful wild flowers that are a delight to walk through. At the southernmost point you reach the quaint little village of Luddesdown. Here we had a short pit stop for snacks and a quick wonder round the village church.
From here it is mostly uphill back to Lodge Lane, although it is a relatively gradual ascent. The footpaths on the way back were lined with blackberry bushes, and since late August is the prime time for blackberry picking we made sure we’d come prepared with Tupperware boxes.
In total the whole walk took us around 6 hours (although that was with a very leisurely lunch, lasting probably around 2 hours). We all, however, had a great time and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a longer walk that includes a wide range of landscapes and sceneries. After a whole day out in the fresh Kentish air we all very much appreciated our apple and blackberry crumble later that evening, made from our freshly picked blackberries!