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THE EDEN VALLEY WALK - PART 1
Tonbridge to Penshurst

Eden Valley Walk Waymarker
Eden Valley Walk

I did this walk on Sunday 4th January 2009 with most of the usual walking group. The Eden Valley walk, which runs between Tonbridge and Edenbridge, is only about 15 miles long and could easily be walked in a day, particularly as there are train stations close to both the start and finish points however splitting it into two made it an ideal walk for everyone to meet up one of the shorter winters days. In addition to the usual people, Anne had invited a couple of her friends to join us and I was accompanied by my wife Denise. We all met up outside Penshurst place and then took a couple of the cars over for the start of the walk at Tonbridge by Tonbridge Castle.

River Medway, Tonbridge
Tonbridge Castle
River Medway, nr Tonbridge
(1) River Medway, Tonbridge
(2) Tonbridge Castle
(3) River Medway, nr Tonbridge

It was another very cold and frosty day and there was even ice on the river Medway at the start of the walk, photo 1. The first couple of miles of the walk follows the route of Wealdway, which we had walked in the opposite direction in far warmer weather last June. We headed past Tonbridge Castle, photo 2, past the swimming pool and alongside a number of very frosty playing fields. After passing under some railway lines the route turns to the left and joins a tree lined track that runs besides the river Medway before joining a more open stretch of path alongside the river by the Haysden Country Park, photo 3.

Approaching the A21
Haysden Lake
View towards Bidborough
(4) Approaching the A21
(5) Haysden Lake
(6) View towards Bidborough

After a short distance the route of the Eden Valley Walk takes a bridge over to the opposite bank of the river before turning to the left to pass under another set of railway lines passing under a rather low tunnel. In a couple of places icicles had formed from water that was dripping out from the brick of the rail bridge. Here the Eden Valley Walk leaves the route of the Wealdway and turns to the right and heads through some trees for a short distance and then climbs up a grassy embankment, photo 4, where the route passes under the busy A21 dual carriageway, along a path that I had looked down upon from the road on many occasions but never walked before. Once under the dual carriageway the route leaves the embankment and heads to the right round the side of Haysden Lake, photo 5. Reaching the far side of the lake the route turns to the right along another tree lined path with a smaller lake to the right and fields to the left. After a while the route turns briefly to the left to join a path that now runs along the field edge before leaving the field again to take a broad path that runs alongside the river Medway down to the Ensfield Road. From the field there were good views up to the ridge by Bidborough, photo 6.

River Medway from Ensfield Bridge
Approaching Penshurst
Penshurst Place
(7) River Medway from Ensfield Bridge
(8) Approaching Penshurst
(9) Penshurst Place

At the road the Eden Valley Walk turns to the right to cross the Ensfield Bridge back over the river Medway before taking a stile on the left and then continuing ahead over a grassy field besides the river. As with all the paths today, the field was covered in frost and the ground hard and frozen underfoot. After a while the footpath leaves the river bank to cross over a stile and starts heading uphill diagonally over another field to join a concrete farm track which the route follows off to the left, this little hill was the only ascent of the day! Where the track reaches a T junction near Wells Place Farm the footpath continues ahead over a grassy field descending downhill through the grounds of Penshurst Place, photo 8. At the foot of the hill the Eden Valley Walk then joins a tarmac drive that runs alongside the edge of Penshurst Place, photo 9.

Church of St John the Baptist, Penshurst
Penshurst Place
Me again!
(10) Church of St John the Baptist, Penshurst
(11) Penshurst Place
(12) Me again!

The route very briefly joins the Penshurst Road in Penshurst before turning to the left and passing through the small of churchyard of St John the Baptist church, photo 10. Passing round the side of the church the route heads back past the side of Penshurst Place, photo 11, where we finished the days walk.

Reaching the car my GPS said we had walked just over 5 miles which was an even shorter than we had been expecting. The Eden Valley Walk guidebook having given the distance between Tonbridge and Penshurst as 7 miles, although I have to admit it never looked that far on the map. Some of the group went on and did another 5 mile walk however it had been ideal distance for Denise and thus we got a lift back to where the car was parked in Tonbridge. Despite the short distance it had been enjoyable to meet up with everyone again, it was also by far the frostiest day I have been out walking in for some considerable time which also added a little extra to the walk.

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