In the spotlight – Eynsford to Otford
A walk that’s long enough to feel like ‘a proper day out’ (6.8 miles), populated with features both historical and natural, yet not so demanding to be intimidating. It shares it’s gentle but engaging opening climb, gaining a valley view, with the longer Walk 7, but then drops down to the Roman villa at Lullingstone to follow the river Darenth through Shoreham village and onto the quirky appeal of Otford village with its scant but tantalising remains of a Tudor Palace…
Image copyright Mike Urban
One of the many finer arts of piecing together a good walk is not about what fabulous features might be discovered but something a little more subtle: how much crap walking will people put up with before they decide it’s not worth the effort.
Walks 6 and 7 both start at Eynsford with the advantage of plonking you deep in the heart of a beautiful valley. The disadvantage is that the first 8 to 10 minutes are spent traipsing along an annoyingly busy residential road.
Vinophiles might want to pair this walk with a fruity yet unpretentious Cabernet Sauvignon. (Is this a thing? Can we pair wines with walks? I have no idea but perhaps we should try…)
On my first outing to this valley I decided after the first few hundred metres that this walk would never make the cut for LoHo. By the time I reached the ford, the stone bridge and the pacifying slow running waters of the river Darenth I had changed my mind.
Soon after, the view towards the elegant viaduct and that from the ‘Lonesome Tree’, elevated Eynsford and the walks thereabouts into my top 10.
The only difficulty with this walk is deciding which features you will visit and which you will pass: Lullingstone Roman villa (English Heritage) or Lullingstone Castle (site of the famous World Garden)?
Alternatively, you can do what I usually do, which is leave them for another time just to enjoy the views in the morning and the village-noodling at lunchtime and later in the day.
My preferred lunch spot is the Mount Vineyard but there are pubs and a picnic spot.
Later, you finish the walk at Otford in what feels like a mediaeval High Street (because that’s what it is) with a glimpse of the remains of a once magnificent Tudor Palace.
It’s one of those walks that after reaching home, refreshed and impeccably dressed for supper, as one must surely be after a country ramble, that invites reflection and conversation.
Vinophiles might want to pair this walk with a fruity yet unpretentious Cabernet Sauvignon.
(Is this a thing? Can we pair wines with walks? I have no idea but perhaps we should try…)