Eden Valley Walk
The Eden Valley Walk follows the banks of the River Eden and the River Medway through peaceful countryside and along delightful paths and lanes, through the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The tranquillity of the Eden Valley belies the fact that it is only 25 miles from London and offers delightful farmland, quiet lanes and wooded hillsides through which to wander. Between Edenbridge and Tonbridge the route passes through parkland, woodland and open fields close to Hever Castle and Penshurst Place. It is possible to complete the Eden Valley Walk in a single day, but many walkers prefer to take the route in stages, returning to enjoy the changing landscape throughout the seasons.
The Eden Valley Walk begins at Cernes Farm, just west of Edenbridge where the path leaves the Vanguard Way. The path soon picks up the River Eden which is crossed at a bridge after which it follows the River for a while. To the left of the path is an overgrown moat known as Devil’s Den which has origins in the 14th century or earlier and may have once been part of a farmstead and fishing ground. After crossing Kent Brook via an iron footbridge the path leaves the River before entering Edenbridge. The route passes through the centre of the village which has a distinctive stone bridge and a local history museum.
Leaving Edenbridge the route crosses the railway and passes through fields, climbing slightly to give lovely views over the surrounding countryside. The River Eden is crossed again at Delaware Farm, followed by Hever Road and two further crossings of the railway. The route now approaches Hever where it passes through the lynch gate into the churchyard of the charming St Peter’s with its slender spire. The church contains the tomb of Sir Thomas Bullen, father of Anne Boleyn. Nearby Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
From Hever the route climbs through some lovely woodland, eventually passing not far south of Chiddingstone, where there is another castle although it cannot be seen from the path. There is a pleasant section up a steep path of steps and across a grassy ride through woodland. At Hill Hoath the route passes in front of an interesting low-lying half-timbered house on left called Withers. A short diversion north along the lane from Hill Hoath will allow you to visit the castle, regularly used as a film location, and the attractive village of Chiddingstone famed for its beer and its ghosts.
The route now makes for Penshurst and follows the old coach road (which used to link Chiddingstone with Penshurst) through woodland. At Wat Stock Farm there is a fine half-timbered 15th century house hidden away behind farm buildings. Shortly afterwards there are lovely views on left over the Eden Valley. The River Eden is crossed again on the way into Penshurst, the confluence of the Rivers Eden and Medway. The attractive village of Penshurst is famous for Penshurst Place, one of England’s oldest family homes, it is a medieval manor set in historic gardens. The very pretty 15th century Leicester Square is at the entrance to the Church of St John the Baptist. It is named after Robert Sidney of Penshurst Place, Earl of Leicester, who also owned London’s famous Leicester Square. In addition, there are tea rooms and the Leicester Arms pub in the village. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) was filmed at Penshurst Place, featuring as Whitehall Palace.
From Penshurst the route heads north east towards Leigh, roughly following the course of the River Meadway. Just after Penshurst Place the route passes some woods and ponds on the left where heron and geese can be seen. The path climbs and shortly after Well Place Farm there are excellent views looking back towards Penshurst Place. The route crosses the River Medway at a road and then follows the south bank and past a reservoir to cross the busy A21 road and the railway. Continuing to follow the River Medway the route weaves into the centre of Tonbridge where it finishes at the remains of Tonbridge Castle. This is of the finest motte and bailey castles in the country. Visitors can explore the standing 13th century gatehouse in glorious grounds alongside the River Medway which flows through the town and beside which you have just walked.You can continue following the River eastwards along the Medway Valley Walk which starts from the castle.
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