There are many ways to explore the Darent Valley and a lot will depend on the size of your group (and their age ranges), your fitness, your interests and the season. There are plenty of walking routes that link one station to another (the best being between Otford, Shoreham and Eynsford, along the beautiful paths that meander along the valley floor near the Darent River). Other routes take you high into the hills, from which to enjoy spectacular views and peaceful wildflower meadows.
Yet others (see below) will introduce the food and drink connoisseur to highly talented independent producers dotted along the railway route from Sevenoaks to Swanley. You might like to consider buying a picnic from one of these and setting off on an adventure. Or stopping for a couple of hours to enjoy a meal or tea for two.
One suggested itinerary has been published on the Community Rail Network website which promotes amazing rail journeys all over the UK. Check Scenic Rail Britain for details but also check here soon as we will be adding more for you to consider.
The Darent Valley Food and Drink Trail: We have added a full tour of the Darent Valley, in which you discover more about the food history of the valley while ‘meeting’ key independent producers in the area. Learn about the producers’ attachment to the unique chalk soil of the valley and their passion for the products they make. Some of the producers transform others’ products while others grow and transform local vegetables into exciting vegan lunches (Life on High in Sevenoaks) alongside creating store-roasted coffee.
All producers are within walking distance of the train stations in the Valley and the produce reflects the exciting potential of living and working in a beautiful chalk grassland habitat. Key visits include dropping in to the newly refurbished Samuel Palmer Inn, the well-established Mount Vineyard and insta-famous lavender Castle Farm, all in or near Shoreham (Kent) station. At the vineyard, owner Simon Greenwood grows eight varieties of grapes on similar soil to the Champagne region of France. You can taste a selection of award-winning sparkling wines and enjoying a platter of local charcuterie and cheeses (or artisan pizza) in the landscaped gardens.
A half hour stroll along the beautiful River Darent brings you to Castle Farm, home to the UK’s largest lavender fields, at their peak in July. William and Caroline Alexander run this diverse farm with their family, raising beef cows which graze by the chalk stream, tending to sugary Norfolk Royal apples which glow red on the trees in autumn, propping up towering hop vines reminding us of the Kentish beer history of the valley, and of course nurturing the beautiful purple lavender fields stretching all around.
Sated on delicious lavender ice cream and locally-made cakes, you can return to Shoreham or walk a further twenty-minute/half hour walk to Eynsford station to head home. A fine day out!