Glorious woods, hidden valleys, a huge view of the weald over the top of Churchill’s house. Another greensand ridge North Downs classic with similarities to Leith Hill walks in Surrey (and Ide Hill and One Tree Hill on this site). No train option, unless you use Sevenoaks station and take a taxi, but if you have a car it’s not far out of town, just beyond Biggin Hill. There is a half-hourly bus service from Bromley North and South stations (the 246). There are similar versions of this walk in many books so it’s a popular area for a stroll. Close to the Ide Hill walk – so could do one walk before lunch, and one after (I’d particularly recommend eating at The Cock Inn or Stanhope Arms). This walk takes 2-3 hours depending on pace. Distances stated are ball park.
THE WALK IN DETAIL
Point 1-2 350 metres Park in Westerham in the car park off Quebec Avenue (pay Mon-Sat). Make for the churchyard just beyond the car park. Walk up and past the graves and church and emerge on to Westerham Green. Cross the Green and cross the A25 from next to the bus shelter and traffic island and look for the steps up to a little alley opposite (next to Wood and Stone Floors the last time I checked).
Point 2-3 500 metres Walk down this old alleyway crossing a the infant river Darent, emerging after 100 metres or so on an open grassy (and often incredibly muddy) space. Turn right (west) and walk for 200 or so metres parallel with the river until you reach Mill Lane
Point 3-4 500 metres At Mill Lane turn left and walk past parking spaces and a house. By the house the path splits into two. The left hand path goes along the valley floor alongside the Darent, a lovely path too. The path we are taking, however, is the one straight on, uphill. Continue to the top of the hill, admiring the views. (This is Squerry’s Park Common.) After about 500 metres, shortly after passing through a clump of trees, at a path junction, you reach a path junction.
Point 4-5 2km Turn left at this junction After 250 metres, still walking generally south, cross another path junction (which occurs at a point with a long meadow on the right) and continue straight on with trees again on your right and the river Darent hidden on your left. After about 300 metres you pass another long meadow on the right, this time with an isolated and slightly spooky looking house at the far end (pictured below). After passing this meadow you pass behind another house and then walk uphill on the edge of woods. Continue for 600 metres, passing a field on your right, as the path begins to bend left (more easterly) and comes on to the somewhat dangerous Hosey Common Rd.
Point 5-6 1km At the road look for the path up Mariners Hill nearly opposite (still in woods). Cross with care, the road is a magnet for bad driving I’ve found. Continue uphill through the woods; keep the bridlepath on your left; our route doesn’t take the main path – we’re using the path on the right which soon runs next to a garden fence. Beyond the fence is a large house with generous gardens and a superb weald view. After the house, the path (the one on the right, remember, not the broader one though ends up in same place) continues through woodland downhill. After about 100 metres look out for a path going back uphill on the left (north), signposted Mariners Hill Loop. This is the turning point of the walk (from now on heading generally north) and one of the best bits. Take this path (Mariners Hill Loop), which soon flattens out and gives a great view over Chartwell House to the Weald beyond. There are giant douglas firs (big redwood-type conifers anyway) to admire and gorse bushes at this point and a seat or two to admire the view. The loop path after about 350 metres meets the standard Mariners Hill path we left earlier after crossing Hosey Common Road. Turn right (east), down towards Mapleton Rd and the NT Chartwell car park.
Point 6-7 400 metres. Cross Mapleton Rd. You are close to the National Trust cafe here at the far end of the car park. If you don’t need a break continue on the signposted path opposite leading uphill with a fence on the left, passing another spectacular house on the hillside with suitably silly gardens. Back in woodland you reach a quiet lane at the top of the hill called Hosey Common Lane.
Point 7-8 1.5km Cross the lane (for a short cut turn left here, walk down the lane then cross the road to a footpath and keep going) and take the path opposite through what seems like ancient woodland signposted back to Westerham. At the first path junction keep left and keep an eye on the Westerham signs to ensure you stay on the most direct path. (If you are not sure – woods can be hard to navigate – if you follow paths heading north/north-west you can’t really go too far off route.) At the next junction follow the path branching right (I think also signed Westerham) which eventually comes out at Hosey Hill (ignore another path branching off to the right). At Hosey Hill common there’s a car park – perhaps an alternative starting point for the walk. Approach Hosey Common Rd.
Point 8-9 1km Cross Hosey Common Rd but look left (south) to rejoin the signposted footpath. The path now briefly heads south again through woods by the road before bending away to head back west then north. Soon you’ll be walking below large conifers (pine and spruce of some kind I think) – very scenic in the snow when I last did it. After this, the path emerges from the woods with the conifers on your left. Now you have a choice: continue straight on to walk next to the Darent river and back to Mill Lane or turn right, briefly steeply uphill to point 9, for the shortest route back to Westerham.
Point 9-car park 900 metres At the top of the hill you can see Westerham ahead; just go straight on to re-enter the town from the alley.