Sustainable Walks in the Darent Valley

Lavender fields with woodlands and crop fields in background, on a sunny day.

Culture & Heritage tagsOutdoor Activities tagsWildlife & Nature tags

30th May 2023

More than 200 years ago, influential landscape artist, Samuel Palmer, described the Darent Valley as an ‘earthly paradise’. Stretching from the banks of the River Thames at Dartford in the north to the Greensand Hills above Sevenoaks in the south, the Darent Valley is one of Kent’s hidden treasures. Most of the Darent Valley lies within the nationally protected Kent Downs National Landscape and is rich in diverse habitats, wildlife and has an impressive cultural heritage.

Boundary map of Darent Valley region

Map of the Darent Valley (area highlighted in blue)

The River Darent is the defining feature of the valley. This chalk stream has carved the landscape over 1000s of years. The surrounding land is a mix of woodlands, wide expanses of chalk grassland and fields, coastal marshland, historic parkland, with far-reaching views throughout. As well as being a unique landscape and a haven for wildlife, the Darent Valley also offers brilliant walking opportunities.

Discover the Darent Valley Rail Trails

To help you explore this stunning region on foot, our Darent Valley team have created a brand-new selection of self-guided walks, all of which are accessible on your smart phone or tablet.

17 new Rail Trails have been added to the Darent Valley Trails app this spring. There’s a choice of both circular and linear routes, and the trails range from 2.5 to 9 miles/4 to 14.4km. As you walk, the app offers insights into local history and wildlife to look out for, as well as detailed instructions to help you find your way.

A Southeastern train travelling over Eynsford viaduct

Simply download the free app before you leave, or even on the train Wi-Fi on the way there. Then, each trail can be downloaded and followed offline, so you can explore the remote and tranquil countryside without worrying about signal or 4g!

And best of all, the walks are eco-friendly! All the routes start and end at mainline train stations in North Kent, meaning you can go green and reduce your carbon footprint by leaving the car at home.

The Rail Trails are available to use on the Darent Valley Trails app, downloadable free of charge on the App Store and Google Play.

Our top 5 sustainable walks in the Darent Valley to try this summer

We’ve handpicked five of the new Rail Trail walks that are perfect for exploring during the summer months. Read on to choose your next adventure…

1). Creek and marshes

Marsh water way through long green grass, blue skies and trees in the distance.

From Dartford Station, follow the meandering River Darent to the Thames estuary and back on this circular 5.7 mile/9.1km walk. The surrounding marshland and gravel pits are the perfect place to spot wading birds, including oystercatchers and avocets in the summer.

2). Veterans and lavender

Lavender fields, with trees in distance and crop fields. Blue sunny sky.

Stroll through the heart of the Darent Valley on this 8 mile/12.8km circular walk from Eynsford Station. Discover ancient trees in Lullingstone Country Park, which is home to over 300 veteran oak, beech, ash, hornbeam, and sweet chestnuts. The lavender fields at Castle Farm form an impressive sea of vibrant purple during the summer months.

3). Palmer and villages

Explore the attractive villages of Shoreham and Otford on this 8 mile/12.8km circular walk from Shoreham Station. You’ll pass the home of British painter, Samuel Palmer, as well as the Shoreham Cross Memorial carved into the chalk hillside above the village. In summer, look out for orchids, such as the pyramidal orchid (flowering from June to August), as you walk through Polhill Bank Nature Reserve.

4). Downs and Butterflies

Brown argus butterfly in flight

This short but steep 2.7 mile/4.3km circular walk from Otford Station climbs up the North Downs Way National Trail. At the top of the chalk ridge you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views. In summer, keep your eyes peeled for butterfly species, such as the brown argus and dark green fritillary, as you walk through Fackenden Down Nature Reserve.

5). Wetland and wildlife

View over lakes at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, with light reflecting off expanse of water

Escape the hustle and bustle as you wander around the lakes of Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. This gentle circular walk from Dunton Green Station is 4.3 mile/6.9km long and relatively flat. The peaceful nature reserve is nationally important and is home to over 2,000 species of plant and animal. In the summer months, you might see brilliant blue kingfishers, as well as dragonflies and damselflies hunting above the water.

View all the Darent Valley Rail Trails

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