Monday 19 May 2014

Walk from Chartwell to Toys Hill, Kent

A three mile circular walk through a timeless stretch of the North Downs, barely changed from the 1940s, this route takes you from Churchill's former home up to the nearby village of Toys Hill and back again via French Street Farm.  If you park in the National Trust car park at Chartwell, you can follow a footpath through the woods around the east side of the estate and, at the corner of the lake, pick up the bridle path south east. It threads its way between some rolling fields up to Puddledock Lane, which climbs gradually up to Toys Hill. As you enter the village, you get glimpses of the green, green Kent countryside laid out far below you. You then take a footpath off to the left into the oak, beech and birch woods at the top of the hill. Among the trees, you'll pass the odd idyllic glade and footpaths leading off in all directions. Unless you want to explore, stay on the Greensand Way, which heads north west in a straight-line. Unfortunately, the undulating route is mostly enclosed by forest, so you are robbed of what would be fine views.

As you come down off the hill and out of the trees, the Greensand Way soon merges into a lane again, lined by tall hedgerows and trees, through which you can glimpse the verdant valleys around you. Again you climb up, past French Street Farm, before turning left into more woods, following the Greensand Way steeply down south west towards Chartwell. The path skirts a fence for a while before you emerge next to the picnic field, with its sweeping view over Churchill's estate. 7/10