Tonbridge - Southborough loop

From the parkland close to the centre of Tonbridge, up onto Bidborough Ridge and on to Southborough Common, Returning along a hidden valley, through the park of Somerhill Schools and along the river Medway to the town centre.

Technical sheet
No. 4671612
A Kent walk posted on 22/01/21 by Mike E. Update : 25/01/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h35[?]
Distance Distance : 17.48km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 214m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 217m
Highest point Highest point : 139m
Lowest point Lowest point : 19m
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Kent
Starting point Starting point : N 51.19745° / E 0.271168°
Download : -

Description

(D/A) The given starting point is the car park at the swimming pool in Tonbridge. From here take the path near the entrance to the car park or use the regional cycle route 12 which runs parallel to it from the corner of the rugby club car park.

(1) Shortly after passing under the railway take the path across the footbridge to your left. Continue alongside the river. The cycle route takes the next bridge to the left (Lucifer Bridge) leads to the lake and it is possible to follow this around the lake, under the railway, through the car park and join up with the route there. My route was to ignore Lucifer Bridge and continue on the north bank of the river following the Wealdway and Eden Valley Walk.

(2) Cross the river with the Wealdway at the later bridge, turn right and across another footbridge, then left and under the railway and follow the path out of the park to Lower Haysden.

(3) At Lower Haysden continues south along the bridleway, skirt around the oast house at the end and under the A21 through a foot tunnel. Across a minor road and at this point the path starts climbing towards Bidborough Ridge.

(4) When you emerge onto the road at Bidborough Ridge turn right keeping an eye out for the footpath sign on the opposite side of the road. Take this and follow the path between houses and eventually to the church at Bidborough village.

(5) From behind the church take the road alongside the school and follow the path into open fields, through some woods, alongside the cemetery and out at the bottom end of Southborough Common by a little group of cottages known charmingly as Modesty Corner.

(6) The path loops around the cottages and when you arrive onto their little access road look to the left to see where it almost loops back on itself, climbing a little and across the wooded common to the Church. There are some benches on the open part of the common which make a good lunch stop.

(7) Cross the main road (A26) and find the path that runs between the school and the playground. It then crosses the 'lawn' behind the school and takes a sharp right once you have done that. Follow it onto the access road to some houses and turn left at the end of the lane. Look for the footpath signs on the left.

(8) Through the gate, you will see a path that descends diagonally across the field to the right. It passes through open and wooded parts and can be quite muddy if the weather has been wet.

(9) The path eventually comes to a T junction. To the left it crosses a footbridge and would come out on Vauxhall Lane. If it has been wet and you've had enough of mud you might want to take that option and follow Vauxhall Lane down to the A21. Be cautious if you do - Vauxhall lane is a bit of a rat-run for cars. My route turns right instead and runs alongside the stream, eventually crossing it and cutting under the railway arches at Old Forge Farm.

(10) Take the lane to the left which eventually becomes a footpath. This is where things can get truly over-your-boots muddy as you climb up Castle Hill to Forest Farm.

(11) When you emerge onto the road turn left, through the gate, alongside a field and then as you hit the woods take the path to the right. Again be prepared for more mud. If you would rather not then you can take the road in the other direction, which eventually comes out in the same place. With widening works on the A21 part of the old road has become an access road and the path meets that and takes you down to the entry/exit slip.

(12) At this point stay on the same side of the road, rather than taking the traffic light crossing, and pass under the A21. Look for the footpath sign on the right. This takes you through a little triangle of woods and onto the slip road for southbound traffic, which you cross and turn left. Enter the Somerhill grounds at the gate. The path is along the road initially, past the lake and then it veers left away from the road and up towards the school buildings. Turn left through the gate and follow the school access road onto the B2017 Tudley Lane. Turn right on Tudley Lane (take care it can be busy) and cross to Postern Lane on the left.

(13) Walk down Postern Lane, and follow it all the way to the end where it comes out in the industrial estate of Tonbridge.

(14) Cross the road and take the path along the river, past the Town Lock and onto the High Street. When it emerges onto the High Street, turn right across the bridge, cross the road and enter the castle grounds through the gateway. Follow the path between the river and the castle walls. Just beyond the castle there is a footbridge to the left which takes you back to the swimming pool car park.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 23m - Tonbridge swimming pool car park
1 : km 1.15 - alt. 26m - Footbridge
2 : km 2.45 - alt. 23m - Footbridge
3 : km 3.06 - alt. 26m - Lower Haysden
4 : km 5.07 - alt. 139m - Bidborough Ridge
5 : km 6.28 - alt. 106m - Bidborough Church and School
6 : km 7.24 - alt. 97m - Modest Corner
7 : km 8.01 - alt. 123m - Meadows School
8 : km 8.54 - alt. 117m - Pennington Road
9 : km 9.64 - alt. 46m - The footbridge you don't take
10 : km 10.32 - alt. 54m - Old Forge Farm
11 : km 11.44 - alt. 66m - Forest Farm
12 : km 12.62 - alt. 38m - A21 underpass
13 : km 14.43 - alt. 50m - Postern Lane
14 : km 16.36 - alt. 21m - Cannon Bridge
D/A : km 17.48 - alt. 23m - Tonbridge Swimming Pool

Useful Information

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

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