Our route runs along the picturesque Darenth valley taking in three villages steeped in history, a ruined palace, two castles and a Roman villa. At times the route runs alongside the River Darent, at other times through fields and woods. We will take less busy paths and ascend the west side of the valley for good views.
Otford dates back to the sixth century; its Archbishop's Palace once rivalled Hampton Court for splendour and there are several other historic buildings. We will pass some of the 'planets' which comprise the Otford Solar System. This is a Millennium project which shows the relative position of the sun and planets. Shoreham also has many historic buildings. The Church of St Peter and St Paul has an outstanding wooden rood screen and a stained glass window by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. There will be time to look around the village and have some refreshments.
In the afternoon, we will pass Lullingstone where there was a never-opened railway station intended to bring about development after the War, which never happened because of Green Belt regulations. Instead Lullingstone has kept its rural and historical charms. There is a Visitor Centre at Lullingstone Park which offers exhibitions and information (and has a café), Lullingstone Castle and finally the Roman Villa (English Heritage). Lullingstone Castle has its famous World Garden which some walkers may be interested in visiting. It will be open until 5 pm with an entry price of £9.00. However the walk will not wait for people to visit the garden and walkers will need to make their way back to Eynsford, which is an easy walk. Further details will be available nearer the time. There may be time to visit Lullingstone Roman Villa (English Heritage) which also costs £9.00; otherwise the same will apply.
We will continue to Eynsford village passing under the impressive Eynsford railway viaduct. There are a number of pubs and cafes to eat in the village and we will try and choose somewhere where we can all have a meal or refreshments and to socialise. The station is only a short walk from Eynsford village.
Terrain / Difficulty
Although the Darenth valley is as would be expected fairly level, we will ascend some steep inclines to enable us to have good views and to use some quieter paths. Care should be taken on these uphill sections which can be muddy and slippery.