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Whatever the season the Kent Downs AONB has something to offer visitors. This itinerary will allow you to discover the natural landscapes of ancient woodlands and managed farmland providing habitats unique to this area. Explore miles of beautiful woodland and sweeping views over open countryside on foot with a country pub refreshment break, before heading to Ranscombe Farm Reserve. This special place is aiming to become the best known and most influential nature reserve in England. Spend time experiencing this area of the Kent Downs AONB. It's one of a few places you’ll find rare chalk grasslands, the European equivalent of a tropical rainforest!

Itinerary details

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Unique Downs on foot

Whatever the season the Kent Downs AONB has something to offer visitors. This itinerary will allow you to discover the natural landscapes of ancient woodlands and managed farmland providing habitats unique to this area. Explore miles of beautiful woodland and sweeping views over open countryside on foot with a country pub refreshment break, before heading to Ranscombe Farm Reserve. This special place is aiming to become the best known and most influential nature reserve in England. Spend time experiencing this area of the Kent Downs AONB. It's one of a few places you’ll find rare chalk grasslands, the European equivalent of a tropical rainforest!

AM

Shorne Woods Circular Route

Pull on your walking boots and head out on an 8 mile circular walk of Luddesdown Trek starting from Shorne Woods Country Park.  A shorter route can also be taken. (Accessible by ½ hour bus journey from Gravesend – route 416, alternatively catch the train to Sole Street and walk to start point 6 via Gold Street) 

You’ll pass through the historic villages of Cobham and Luddesdown before heading across some beautiful countryside experiencing some amazing views.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a host of wildlife along the route.

You’ll also pass through Cobham Wood and see its impressive Darnley Mausoleum. A glorious walk whatever the season!

On the farside of the mausoleum (after point 18) follow footpath NS198 heading downhill for 1 mile and pick up the North Downs Way for ½ mile where you’ll find the entrance to Ranscombe Farm Reserve

Lunch

Golden Lion or Picnic Option

Along the walking trail stop at The Golden Lion at Luddesdown for some well earned refreshment before continuing on your circular route or walking across to Ranscombe Farm Reserve

If it’s picnic weather then give yourselves enough time to visit Court Farm Butchery & Country Larder to buy tasty provisions. Their food to go menu included pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, pork scratchings and hot and cold drinks.

PM

Ranscombe Farm Reserve

Accessible on foot (1 ½ miles) from the Luddesdown trek (after point 18) or by bus (151) close to Strood Railway Station. 

Visit the nearby Ranscombe Farm Reserve a 560 acre site of special scientific interest that has remained largely unaltered since the 18th century providing great views of the Luddesdown valley you walked through earlier! 

This working farm site has been a favourite haunt of wild plant enthusiasts for hundreds of years. It’s famous for its arable wild flowers and the first UK recording of two important species, meadow clary & hairy mallow happened here in 1699 & 1792 respectively. Both species still survive in the same spot!

The site is home to many varieties thought to be extinct but now thriving on the special chalkland soil. Two of the fields are believed to be the most important site in Britain for annual arable plants. Visit in late May and find swathes of rich red poppies! 

The ancient woodland here also has a good population of dormice, birds, large mammals, butterflies and insects. 

There are a number of short circular walks you can follow to truly immerse yourself in this amazing place unique to the Kent Downs AONB.

Tea/Dinner

The Leather Bottle Teatime

The Leather Bottle in Cobham serves its own ‘Leather Bottle’ ale and ‘Charles Dickens’ ale specially brewed by Shepherd Neame. The leather bottle serves delicious modern English cuisine using local, carefully sourced produce prepared on site.  (A 30 minute walk from Sole Street Railway Station)

Accommodation

The Leather Bottle/The Snuggery

The Leather Bottle  in Cobham, known as Charles Dickens favourite ale house, offers you a relaxing stay in a half timbered traditional pub setting. 

Stay in The Snuggery (minimum 2 night stay) between Cobham and Cuxton situated on the North Downs Way only 1 ½ miles from Cuxton Railway station. This beautiful, cosy detached self-catering option welcomes walkers and allows you to immerse yourselves in the beautiful countryside of the Kent Downs AONB with easy access to many walks including The Luddesdown Trek and Ranscombe Farm Reserve.

Travel

Train Railway station at Gravesend/Higham/Strood/Snodland/Sole Street/Cuxton/Meopham/Longfield – with regular train service to/from London

Bus – Routes 416/417 Meopham/Sole Street/Gravesend/Higham – Mon – Sat 4 times a day.

Bus route 418 to Hook Green & route 311 to Cobham

Bus route 151 runs from the Medway Towns

Bus Routes 140 & 141 stop close to the entrance of Ranscombe Farm Reserve

Bus route number 7 to Mereworth

Cycle Hire – Cycles need to be booked in advance – good quality cycles available from £20 per day. Can be delivered and collected

Car Parking available at all suggested places.

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