Kent Ramblers: Walk 1



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Cudham and Christmas Tree Farm

Distance:  3.9 Miles (1h 45 mins)

OS Map:  Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ446597) 


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Park in free car park at Cudham recreation ground (on left, just past Blacksmith’s Arms, when approaching from Green Street Green).  Closing times vary from as early as 4.30pm in winter to 9.00pm in summer.

Leave car park on tarred path past tennis court and toilets.  On reaching churchyard, bear right along edge of recreation ground and go through metal kissing gate.  Bear right across drive of Rectory House and through another kissing gate.  Follow right hand edge of field to third kissing gate.  Cross next field and take path between trees.

On reaching Mace Lane turn left and soon take footpath on right.  Cross field to gap in hedge.  Through gap, turn left to follow left hand edge of field edge then between fences emerging onto Cudham Lane.  Turn left, walking on right side of road, and soon come to drive for The Shaws (first on right).  Go down drive and when it turns right take footpath straight ahead.  When path bears left, take right turn between posts onto path fenced initially on right and after some steps on both sides.  Follow to bottom of valley and up other side through Downe Bank Nature Reserve.  On reaching drive, turn uphill to Cudham Road.

Turn right and very shortly take path on left that runs parallel to road.  Follow this path, crossing a track about half way along, until it emerges onto the road.  Immediately beyond gateway on left with brick pillars, take path on left.  Christmas Tree Farm is on right – this is open to visitors every day from 10am or earlier.  At corner of farm turn right then left along two sides of field to far corner.  Go through hedge into another field and again follow two sides to opposite corner.  Down House can be seen on right.

At far corner of field, go through gate and follow yellow waymarks and signs Downe Court.  Turn left along field edge.  At corner of field, turn right along next field edge.  Half way along, take path on left.  Follow edge of field, enter wood and follow path descending gradually to Cudham Road.

Turn right past a couple of houses and note the white “Coal Post” on the right just before stile.  Climb stile and take permissive footpath along right hand edge of field alongside wood.  At stile into wood on right, turn left downhill along path emerging the wood.  Continue to valley bottom and climb other side, through kissing gate and emerge onto Church Hill close to Cudham village.

Cross road to permissive bridleway; follow this initially to right, bear left at junction, follow round to pass Blacksmith’s Arms and join Newbarn Lane.  Turn uphill back to car park.  (The bridleway can be muddy after rain; to avoid simply turn left up Church Hill, cross Cudham Lane, go up past church to recreation ground and turn right to car park.)

Points of Interest

Downe Bank Nature Reserve

Home to nine species of wild orchid, this spot was called Orchis Bank by Charles Darwin who wrote a major book on the astonishing variety of ways in which different orchids exploit insects to ensure pollination.  The Bank may also be the inspiration for the reference in Origin of Species to “an entangled bank, clothed with plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about and with worms crawling…”.

Down House

Home of Charles Darwin from 1842 to his death in 1882. He wrote On the Origin of Species here. The house is run by English Heritage and is well worth a visit, despite the cost of £14.50 per adult (booked in advance). The audio tour is particularly interesting.
Normally open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am until 3pm; weekends only in winter. There is a tea-room. Check latest visitor information at

In addition to the walking routes on our web site we have published three popular walking guides:

Guide to Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk and other walks in the area

Guide to the Kent Coast Path: Part 1, Camber to Ramsgate

Guide to Three River Valley Walks in West Kent: Darent Valley Path, Eden Valley Walk and Medway Valley Walk

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Ramblers' volunteers in Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected and maintained as possible.  Of course we also organise led walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply want to support our footpath work.  Please join us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

Map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2020.  Some paths on map are based on data provided by Kent County Council but do not constitute legal evidence of the line of a right of way