Is Sunday the best day for a ramble? Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.
Whatever your view, there is something special for certain about an early autumnal walk on that particular day of the week that captures the October mood. I’m not quite sure how to articulate that mood, other than knowing that a wander at this time of year should end with roast meat, a generous glass of red and a prolonged toe wiggle in front of an open fire.
Each stride is met by the leaves humming their seasonal tune, turning golden-embered and marmalade from uniform green. The air is chilled enough to draw a misty breath from the throat, but still warm enough that it is not too rasping.
It is only recently that I have started to appreciate the unassuming and bumbling appeal of the Kent countryside. It does not have the drama of the Peak or Lake District, nor the rolling dales of Yorkshire or even the chocolate-box twee of the Cotswolds. It is hard to escape man’s touch, especially here in dense West Kent. Indeed, a large chunk of this walk is through a deer park, around a royal residence and past a golf course. Stick with it though; it is an understated beauty around these parts.
The marked path on the map is easy enough to follow. Head out of the car park at One Tree Hill and stick to the Greensand Way which will bring you soon into the grounds of Knole Park. Continue on the path in the same direction until Knole House looms into view on the right. A 15th century National Trust property and the setting of the Beatles’ music videos for ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’, no less.
Loop around the property and, keeping it behind you, stroll down the oak lined track. Follow this all the way up through the golf course and a deer gate. Here turn right into Godden Wood and emerge out into Godden Green itself.
A fantastic and homely pub awaits in the shape of The Bucks Head. Low-ceilings, wood smoke fires and a mind boggling array of retro pub snacks are its hallmarks. The beer is delicious too. We go in for two pints of Spitfire Gold and a pack of scratchings. Then proceed to twist each other’s arms for a pint of Late Red on top.
The leaves seem to hum a little louder after this. We spot pheasants of both sexes and are greeted by curious, chestnut horses with shaggy manes and timid foals as we circle back through Bitchet Green and Common.
As the light begins to dim and slant through the trees, we return home to the inviting waft of rosemary and garlic. Dare I dream?
NB. Another easy walk to access from London. Trains depart from London Bridge to Sevenoaks every 20 minutes or so and take under 30 minutes. A quick cab from the station to One Tree Hill OR walk up to the top of the High Street (25 – 30 mins) to enter Knole Park near the House and begin the walk from there.