Hollingbourne - Charing
This walk starts from the small village of Hollingbourne near Leeds Castle. After a brief climb out of Hollingbourne the path remains at a high level through open countryside for the first few miles, passing close to the villages of Harrietsham and Lenham. There is a small war memorial cut into the downs near Lenham, a reminder of times past, before the path briefly joins a road round an old quarry and then on towards the pretty village of Charing, the end of this walk.
Getting to the Start
Hollingbourne is just off junction 8 of the M20. On leaving the motorway turn onto the A20 towards Leeds Castle, continue on the A20 at the first roundabout, then turn left onto the B2163, signed Hollingbourne. This road takes you through Eyhorne Street into Hollingbourne. Parking in Hollingbourne is limited. There is a small car park at the station in Station Road, however there is only room for about half a dozen cars and it's quite isolated at the end of a narrow lane. Alternatively, there is on-street parking in many of the roads in the village.
If you're travelling by public transport, there is a station at Hollingbourne, which is on the Maidstone to Ashford and Canterbury line. It gets hourly trains, operated by South Eastern Trains, from London Victoria, Maidstone East and Ashford International, as well as a few through trains from Canterbury West and Margate. The station is at the end of a Station Road, and is a little over half a mile from the centre of the village. Note however that in future the train service to Hollingbourne is likely to be limited to peak-time trains to or from London only.
The North Downs Way pases through Hollingbourne. From the centre of the village turn right into Pilgrims Way, which soon becomes a track .
The path climbs gradually out of Hollingbourne and continues through the edge of fields in open countryside.
|Autumn Colours near Hollingbourne||Autumn Colours near Hollingbourne|
After around a mile or so the path briefly goes through some trees, near to Highwood, where another path goes off to the left, however the North Downs Way continues straight on.
|The North Downs Way goes through some trees.|
Once through the trees it's again open walking. To the right here you can see the small lake at Goddington and the small village of Harrietsham, with the church being especially prominent. On the left is the tree-covered Mile Hill. Continue along the path until you get to a large house, called The Dutch House.
|Goddington Lake from the North Downs Way||The Dutch House|
|Near Mile Hill||View over the downs|
Continue along the small lane, through the trees to the road, which goes down into Harrietsham. Cross the road (Stede Hill) and continue straight on into Pilgrims Way. Cross another road (Marley Road) and continue straight on past the Marley Works on the right.
|Trees near the Dutch House||View of Harrietsham|
|Pilgrims Way||View of Harrietsham|
Pass Flint Road to the left and Pilgrims Way soon goes off to the right, but the path continues straight along. The people round here are friendly, with most of the people I passed stopping for a brief chat, and one person even offered me a lift into Lenham on this part of the path.
|View of Lenham|
The path soon joins Faversham road, which it follows for a short distance. As the road turns off to the right, continue straight on back onto the North Downs Way. Go through the gate and the path opens out onto fields again. To the left is a war memorial, a white cross in the field, the stone from the memorial was moved to Lenham Churchyard in 1960. There is also a seat just in front of the memorial.
|Gate by Faversham Road||The War Memorial|
At the end of the field the path joins the road (Hubbards Hill) round an old quarry. As the road curves off to the left, continue straight on back onto the North Downs Way again. The path comes out onto the road again shortly (Rayners Hill) past the old Lenham Hospital (now marked as Highbourne Park). There is now quite a distance of open walking, passing Chobham Farm where there are a couple of large barns (one of which is falling down). Continue straight on past the farm into some more pleasant open walking, although the noise from the nearby A20 does get more intrusive here. Soon you come to Hart Hill Farm where the path comes out onto a road. Turn right, then almost immediately left back onto the path. Continue straight on again towards Charing Hill. The path becomes a road again (Pilgrims Way) take the next road on the right here (The Hill), which comes out onto the busy A252. Cross the A252 and continue down The Hill, which becomes Charing High Street once you cross Pett Lane. Charing is an attractive village, particularly around the Church and down the High Street.
|Charing High Street||Charing High Street|
|Charing Church||Charing Church|
There is a station in Charing, which is to the south of the village. Continue down the High Street and cross the busy A20 at the crossing. Continue straight ahead into Station Road. The station is then the next on the right, down Hitherfield. It is an attractive building (previously being nominated for small Station of the Year). The station is on the direct line back to Hollingbourne with trains running hourly, seven days a week (calling at Lenham and Harrietsham on the way), operated by South Eastern Trains. Once in Hollingbourne, the station is up quite a long lane and is a little over half a mile from the village centre.
There is also a bus from Charing to Hollingbourne, number 510, operated by Stagecoach East Kent. This runs approximately once every 2 hours, seven days a week.
The following web sites provide information on the area.
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