A lovely walk without any steep sections through quiet woods and meadows with a great variety of trees and birdlife. The route starts at the medieval church of St Peter, last resting place of Anne Boleyn’s dad and right by the entrance to Hever Castle (her childhood home). Later on there’s a short stretch on a road but it doesn’t detract much. The final stretches are really pleasant and cut through fields (some with sheep in, which shouldn’t worry you unless you’ve watched this hilarious film). At the end of the walk a large historic pub, the Henry VIII, beckons you in for Shepherd Neame beer and decent food. A very quiet walk, you won’t meet many others. However, be warned, many of the footpaths are quite badly rutted – no big problem but care should be taken. STOP PRESS: As of summer 2019 there is a short path diversion after about half a mile: it’s easy to follow (it’s because a footpath bridge is being replaced)
Distance from SE London: 55 min drive from Sydenham, 30 min train from East Croydon
Access: Hever station can be reached via East Croydon, Hurst Green or Oxted from London. Trains run hourly. By car, the best way from south-east London is to drive through Biggin Hill and Westerham.
Choice of two GPX maps to check realtime location (try whichever works best for you): GPX Ordnance Survey map here. AllTrails GPX map here
Covered on Ordnance Survey Explorer 147 map
The walk (2.5hrs/4.5 miles/6km)
Start: Hever Station or Hever Castle car park by Henry VIII pub (if starting at the station, follow the Eden Valley Path to the church just outside the entrance to Hever Castle – about a mile)
Point 1 (start)-2: 1.3km. Walk through the churchyard on the Eden Valley Path and exit by a gate then across a little bridge over a stream. Follow the path through woods, parallel with a lane with a glimpse of Hever’s lake to your left before turning away, going through more woodland and joining a track (part of a diversion from the footpath that is being repaired, allegedly).
Point 2-3: 1km. When you reach the second of two houses (a white house called something ‘Bothy’) look for the Eden Valley Path angling off diagonally from the foot of the driveway (see photo).
Soon you’ll pass a field sometimes with alpacas in it. Then pass a lovely, small meadow with incredibly tall pine trees, cross a lane (there may be a stile or gate here), then walk by a larger, attractive field with woods to your right. Soon the path (now quite rutted) becomes enclosed by woods, crosses a stream after a couple of right-angle bends and goes uphill on steps, then across a firebreak, then continue straight on at a path junction (ie, don’t turn right, but continue east, or left). Soon you’ll pass a large ancient yew tree on the right. The trail then becomes a ‘holloway’, an old track enclosed by trees used since time immemorial for driving herds along. It passes between large sandstone rocks for a few metres. Just after emerging from the sandstone holloway section (this is Hill Hoath, near Chiddingstone) turn right and pass through a kissing gate, slightly uphill, to the left of a long strip of meadow used for crosscountry eventing (horses basically), and head off on it south-west (blue waymarker – don’t overshoot and go past Hill Hoath Farm), thus leaving the Eden Valley Path (coordinates of path off to right for Google maps: 51.181024, 0.140555.
Point 3-4: 750m. Follow the path heading south and enjoy the views. This is a quiet stretch and my favourite part of the walk, with meadows and woods and very few people around. Enter Stock Wood, an atmospheric piece of woodland which is being managed as a nature reserve.
Point 4-5 1.5km. A long section but a good one. Walk through Stock Wood, ignoring paths off to the right and left (so plough straight on, don’t deviate – in the summer the first bit of this section looks like a dead end, but isn’t) emerge, pass some young pines and continue on the rutted path enclosed by brambles and rosebay willow herb. Lovely meadows around. Pass one meadow with a mown strip sometimes used for radio-controlled aircraft models – superb to watch. Enter more woods, come out, another meadow, (rough tracks here – this area is used for a summer festival) then into more woods (Newtye Hurst Wood). Continue all the way to where the path emerges from trees at an intersection of country lanes (coordinates for Google maps: 51.167602, 0.117005.)
Point 5-6: 1km. Turn right down the quiet lane a few hundred yards to Wilderness Farm. Then turn left on the lane (Dyehurst Lane) opposite the farmhouse, then right again on the busier Uckfield Lane. Take care on this road… some cars drive too fast here. You quickly reach Pigdown Lane on the right – you can walk down here if you like then turn left on a fenced-in footpath after cottages that will take you back to Hever. Or, as per my maps, continue down Uckfield Lane for a couple of hundred metres then take a slightly hidden signed footpath on the right (it’s easy to miss). Google map coordinates for this footpath are 51.174284, 0.109335). If you miss it, don’t worry, just continue down the lane to Greyhound pub and take the footpath to the right there.
Point 6-7: 1km. Follow this footpath (aim for the steeple of St Peter’s ahead) through several fields, above a hidden stream, through a little light woodland, past sheep, across a lane back to the delightful church and the Henry VIII pub.
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Choice fact: Anne Boleyn’s dad (Elizabeth I’s grandfather) is buried at St Peter’s church (inside the church in a big tomb) with other members of the Boleyn family. Read more about the church here at this very attractive website by Natalie Grueninger which covers a lot of places in England connected with the Tudors.
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