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The Otford Solar System is a full scale representation of the position of our planets, and probably the largest model of its type in the world. It was constructed by the village as a millennium project and adds another dimension to this delightful walk.
Having located your position in the universe, head high onto the North Downs for spectacular views over the countryside. The paths are steep and include a section of the North Downs Way. But there are plenty of opportunities to catch your breath by the fine duck pond in the roundabout at the centre of the village. The pond is listed as a protected feature and the parish council contributes an allowance to feed the village ducks.
Otford, which lies on the River Darent, also includes the remains of an Archbishop’s Palace. The palace was one of a chain of great houses belonging to the Archbishops of Canterbury. It was rebuilt on a grand scale in the early 16th century.
Henry VIII was very impressed by the improved palace and took control of it from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, but then lost interest and let the buildings fall into disrepair.
Please note that the route has a short on-road section and the steep climbs may not be suitable for all.
Refreshments and facilities are available at Otford village centre.
Step by step guide
From the car park opposite the Bull pub, turn left along high street. After a short distance, turn left to take path between The Forge House Restaurant and Antiques shop. There are views along this path on the left as you pass the end of the recreation ground. Here you can also see the Otford Solar System model.
Follow path through gate.
Follow path through treeline – you are now crossing the Darent Valley Golf Course. Keep to enclosed path at all times. On reaching a road crossing the path beware of traffic. Cross over to take path bearing Darent Valley Path waymarkings.
Come to end of path and on to a cricket ground. Follow around edge to kissing gate on other side.
Beware of golfers playing shots, look right before crossing fairway. Continue along path until you come to a main road (Station Rd).
Beware of traffic. Turn right and follow road to junction with main road A225 (turn left if you want to explore Shoreham), passing Golf course entrance and under railway bridge.
Beware of fast travelling vehicles. Cross road to follow gravel path to the right of building (Copt Hall).
When you reach a forked junction, bear left to take the signed footpath in to the woods. (do not continue straight on to follow the bridleway) As the path winds through woodland, it becomes steep and there are approximately 145 steps to climb.
Come to the end of the wooded area and into a field. Head across, to left of farm buildings. Once at farm buildings, observe waymarking to follow route taking you between buildings out of farm through a gate, travelling downhill on a track.
Bear left to take footpath through a gap into a field. Follow path across field, following arrows, until you reach wooded boundary. Go through gap and follow path travelling downhill. Cross over stile to emerge from wooded area on a fairly steep hillside overlooking a golf course. Continue downhill to stile at bottom.
Follow enclosed path crossing the golf course. Beware of any golf carts that may cross the footpath. Emerge from the path into a field. Keeping to the left hand side, continue uphill on what becomes a steep climb. Near the top there are views to the left and behind you. Go through the treeline to cross a short grassy area and go through gap into a field. Continue straight ahead, bearing right as you go uphill. Aim for the right side of the house ahead, which becomes visible as you near the top of the slope.
Cross stile at right side of house to follow footpath. Take the first path (bridleway) on the right after coming to the end of the enclosed path (do not continue following the wall straight on).
Go through gate at end of path and bear left to follow path over a stile into field. Follow track on left boundary of field. When track begins to bend sharply round to the left do not follow round but cross stile on the right. Cross another field and go over another stile to head down slope on an enclosed path until you reach a road (Eastdown House should be on the right).
Beware of traffic. Turn left and follow road uphill to sign posts on right. Cross over stile into field and 12 Walk your way to a healthier lifestyle “Walking for one mile burns virtually the same number of calories as jogging for one mile, it just takes a little longer!” “Walking is FREE and requires no special equipment or clothing – as long as you are comfortable” “Regular walking helps reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure” 10 follow path, heading for edge of trees straight ahead. Reach gate and cross over stile into another field. Follow path downhill to woods. Cross over stile into woods and follow fenced woodland path until you reach a road.
Beware of traffic. Turn right and follow road.
Come to a road junction and cross island in middle. Cross road to climb over stile near gate signposted as North Downs Way. In this field, follow path along left hand boundary entering into wooded area after approximately 350m. As the path emerges from the short wooded stretch it begins downhill with steps in places. There are some good views of Otford through trees ahead.
Beware of traffic. Reaching the end of the path you will be at a road. Cross over to pavement and turn right following North Downs Way sign. At road junction bear left (following North Downs Way sign). This will take you back to Otford crossing over the railway bridge, past a pond (designated as a listed building!) pubs and shops, back to the car park where you started.