Kent Ramblers Walk 7



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High Elms and Downe

Distance:   3.8 Miles (1h 40 m)

OS Map:   Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ440625 )


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Park in the Cuckoo Wood car park – if approaching from Shire Lane, this is along High Elms Road on the left half a mile beyond the golf club house.

Leave car park by entrance and take path immediately opposite.  Cross bridle path, go through kissing gate and follow footpath across meadow, a carpet of cowslips in spring, towards woodland.  Leave by gate at far left and keep close to edge of woodland on left, crossing rough grassland to meet London Loop at T-junction.  Turn left and continue, crossing another path and bridleway, to North End Lane.

Turn left and take first turn on right along Bogey Lane.  Soon climb steps on left into field and follow right hand side of field to corner.  Descend through gap and turn left (leaving London Loop which continues forward along Bogey Lane) until you reach broader farm track (Orange Court Lane).  Take path opposite, bear left across field, go throughgap and then turn right along right hand edge of next field.  Take path between fences to Rookery Road.

Turn left along road and take great care, walking on outside of bends until you reach pavement after passing North End Lane on left.  Walk through village, follow road left round church and keep left into High Elms Road.  Pass primary school on left then enter recreation ground, follow left hand edge to gate and then follow bridleway parallel to road.  On emerging at junction between Mill Lane and High Elms Lane, cross lane and go down High Elms Lane (very carefully) until it bends sharp left.Just after bend, take footpath on right.

Cross diagonally to far corner of field and then cross next field diagonally to far edge.  Bear right downhill along left hand edge of field until path enters woodland.  Turn left uphill.  After a few metres, join broader path and turn right.  Continue until you reach barrier and turn left uphill along replanted beech avenue – the original was destroyed in the 1987 gale and replanting was financed in 1989 by the Rotary Club and others.  At top turn left and follow edge of the wood, passing posts 16, 15, 14 (note round brick watering hole for pheasants built in nineteenth century), 13 (where you bear right), 12 & 11 of nature trail, to car park.



Points of Interest

High Elms Estate

High Elms House was the home of

John Lubbock, first Lord Avebury, whose claims to fame are many.  He was a keen naturalist and anthropologist; a friend and supporter of Charles Darwin who lived at Downe; a banker, politician and social reformer.  He saved Avebury stone circle from developers and was responsible for introducing bank holidays.  He died in 1913.

The house burned down in 1967 but the estate survives for public use in the ownership of the London Borough of Bromley.

There is a Nature Centre open from 11 to 4 on Saturdays and Sundays and a café open daily from 9:30 until 5:00 (4:00 in winter).

Downe Church

In the churchyard is a memorial to Charles Darwin, his wife Emma and his brother Erasmus.  However Charles is not buried here as he had wished, but in Westminster Abbey.

Public Transport

Bus service R8 runs from Orpington railway station to High Elms and then to Downe which might be a more convenient starting point for those not using a car.

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

Please report any problems with this walk to

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 2021.  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