Having recently undertaken a walk around Faversham near the Thames estuary, my hiking friend Tammy opted for a return to the county that has earned the title ‘The Garden of England’, as it has referred to for hundreds of years. Kent is host to gentle hills, fertile farmland and cultivated country estates with fruit-filled orchards that cover the area. The area south of the village of Cobham typifies this landscape description. To make it to Eltham by 8 a.m. requires getting up at crack of dawn for a drive down the M11 from Hertfordshire via the Blackwall Tunnel. The route could roughly be described as a figure of eight with the small village of Luddesdown, named after a scattered group of houses and farms, as the crossover point. The terrain is undulating, traversing vineyard-covered farmland and numerous woods, so “breathtaking” in more ways than one, incorporating a section of the North Downs Way on the ongoing section and The Wealdway on the return leg.

Read FULL text and photo album – click here.

Adjacent to the church of St Peter and St Paul is Luddesdown Court, a 6,821-square-foot house that is estimated to be at least 800 years old. Some local historians believe it could be even older—the village of Luddesdown certainly existed in 1086 when it was included an ambitious survey of land ownership in Britain, the Domesday Book, commissioned by William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. One of Luddesdown’s former owners is thought to be Odo of Bayeux, the king’s half-brother (born around 1035). Odo was a key figure in the Norman invasion of England, and subsequently commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry, an epic depiction of the invasion’s decisive Battle of Hastings in 1066.

It was here that my mobile phone’s battery finally gave in. Having been experiencing problems with the device losing charge faster than should be the case, for some time now, I got it in the ear from Tammy, who was insistant that I should now be treating myself to a new phone for Christmas. Furthermore, I was assured in no uncertain terms that further walks with her would be ruled out until I had sorted the situation out. From Luddesdown, we took the Wealdway path towards Cobham, thus completing the last leg of the figure of eight route.

Cobham is a village and civil parish located 6 miles south-east of Gravesend and does not appear as a separate manor in the Domesday Book, so the village and parish were probably established later than 1086. The village has strong links with Charles Dickens, who used to walk out to the village: he set part of The Pickwick Papers there.

Read FULL text and photo album – click here.