A group of fourteen assembled at Charing station to walk up into the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. More were booked, the forecast of heavy showers may have been off putting to some.

Therese presented a brief introduction of our work with station adopters at Charing before our group of fourteen walkers set off.

In Charing we stopped to admire many of the historic buildings that grace the village including the Archbishop’s Palace, host to many pilgrims and travellers across the ages.

The Archbishop’s Palace and the church of St Peter and St Paul

A brick built house with tile roof, a blue car is parked outside. The top floor of the house is painted white. There is a large cast iron sign in the shape of a spoked wheel with three wings spaced equally on the spokes radiating out from the centre. At the top is a plaque that reads "Headquarters" the initials C T C appear on the spokes between the wings.
A Winged Wheel of the Cyclists’ Touring Club

Our route continued up the slope of the Kent Downs to join the North Downs Way National Trail. Therese spoke about how modern agricultural methods work to support wildlife and the environment , helping to tackle climate change.

Therese gives a talk

With the skies still bright if a little grey, we climbed Cherry Downs for lunch with spectacular views across the Greensand Ridge and an opportunity to go scrumping for plums and blackberries in the community orchard.

Descending Cherry Downs

Suitably refreshed we pressed on, returning to the North Downs Way and continuing to the recently restored Chalk Cross above Lenham.

The Chalk Cross above Lenham.

Walkers hear about local history.

Whilst most of our walk had been on public rights of way we soon found ourselves on a narrow country lane. Vehicles were few and drivers were courteous, allowing us plenty of time to retreat to safe spaces on the verge before trying to pass. We stopped briefly for photos with Brother Percival at the Pilgrims Rest Bench, an information board provides local history including a tale that “Hearsay has it that young Pilgrims would marry and honeymoon in the old tower of the church, not being released until the bill was paid in full.”

Three walkers share a bench with a carved wooden sculpture of a monk, resting with eyes closed.
Brother Percival

The skies were getting darker and there were some ominous rumbles of thunder in the distance. We arrived at the station with some time in hand before the next trains were due and took the opportunity to visit Percival’s Rest in Harrietsham village for some refreshing post-walk drinks. We made it back to the station in the lightest of showers, once under the platform shelters the heavens opened and the downpour began.

The walk met the aims of both Kent Community Rail Partnership and the North Downs Way Ambassador programme. Everyone who took part made a journey by rail, contributed to the local economy and learned about our activities, the North Downs Way, local history and the Kent Down AONB.

Keep an eye out for more led walks on our events programme.