Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Blossom and Bluebell walk - Cobham, Kent



A varied up and down hills walk, taking in medieval churches claiming the best bronzes in England, the rolling North Downs, beech woods, traditional Kent houses, an 18th century mausoleum plus blossom and bluebells if you visit in early May.

How to Get There
One hour by car, although add 30 minutes to the journey back due to queues at the Blackwall Tunnel and gridlock in Hackney and Harringay. Easy to get there by car, through Blackwall Tunnel and straight down the A2 to the Cobham turnoff (the one after Gravesend). Parking with toilet after the parking at the first pub. Alternatively you can pick up the walk from near Sole Street train station  via St Pancras.

The Walk
This area is crisscrossed with footpaths, so easy to plan a walk which is the right length for you. We’ve tried 3 different routes so far, my favourite is the 9 mile one described here. The map you need is ordnance survey explorer 163.


Cobham is one of those picturesque Kent villages with flint knapped buildings and half timbered houses. For a tiny place Cobham packs in the history. Charles Dickens used to walk to the village from his house at Gads Hill and the Leather Bottle Pub features in the Pickwick Papers.
Cobham

The walk begins behind Cobham’s 13th flint church. The pavement of medieval bronzes inside is worth seeing, as is the 16th century painted marble tomb with Lord Cobhan and his wife atop.
Cobham Church 

One of the Medieval Bronzes in Cobham church (themcs.org)

For me the highlight of this walk is field after field of apple blossom (at the beginning of May) on the outskirts of Cobham. They may not be the oldest gnarliest trees, but their number gently scents the air and makes it worthwhile. You enter the orchards by turning a sharp right after the ‘alleyway’ behind the church.
Blossom in Cobham's Orchards








A mile and a half later you suddenly hit the rolling chalky North Downs.

North Downs before Luddesdown


At Luddesdown it’s worth making a small detour to visit the church which originally belonged to the Norman house behind and was recorded in 1086 for the Domesday book. 
Luddesdown Church 

Some of the gravestones are so old only the tips are showing. The church is renowned for its wall paintings.

Gravestones in Luddesdown Church Yard 


After crossing a few fields you spend a mile going up and down through the ancient woodland of Rochester Forest, which supplied the timber for the Medway Towns shipbuilding. 

Rochester Forest  

You then turn onto the North Downs Way an easy ridge walk and at the right time of year carpeted with blue bells. 

It’s then down into valleys and up again over the hills, passing some lovely houses




Medieval Wealden Hall House. 



and eventually up to the 18th Century Darnley Mausoleum, which cost the equivalent of 
£1 millon in today’s money but never used for its intended purpose.

Darnley Mausoleum


It’s then an easy straight walk back to Cobham. 

2 comments:

  1. It was a lovely walk. Thanks for taking us along.
    Love this blog.
    Hugs

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  2. Cobham actually features in my new novel Death and Mr Pickwick - it appears mainly at the end, when I feature Darnley Mausoleum. If you are interested, you can find out more about the novel at: www.deathandmrpickwick.com

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