Rochester, Cobham Park, Luddesdown, Halling and Cuxton

Story by Steven Spall
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Statistics and Files
Start: Rochester Castle Distance: 16.4 miles (26.4 km) Climbing: 580 metres
Grid Ref: TQ 74237 68274 Time: 7-8 hours Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Rochester
Start: Rochester Castle Distance: 16.4 miles (26.4 km)
Grid Ref: TQ 74237 68274 Time: 7-8 hours
Climbing: 580 metres Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: Make no mistake this is a surprisingly challenging walk. Although it is no Lake District mountain challenge there is a fair amount of climbing and the navigation between Luddesdown and Halling is a bit challenging. In fact we got lost. If you only want a nature walk you can start this walk from Ranscombe Country Park and it is probably better to follow the North Downs Way out of Horseholders Wood to Cuxton rather than taking Pilgrims Way (we were going to do this, but got lost). Nevertheless this is a good walk and is probably the second hardest route I have undertaken in Kent.

The Walk:

View over the River Medway at RochesterView over the River Medway at Rochester
Following countryside towards Cobham ParkFollowing countryside towards Cobham Park

Heading out of central Rochester there are two ways to get to Medway crossing, either follow the Esplanade long the river and head up when under the bridge (see the Downs walk) or cross the Vines garden and head up the road through Borstal. On this particular occasion, we chose to take the route through Borstal both to benefit from the views over the Medway and for a change. Once in Borstal cross over the brutalist bridges and prepare yourself for lots of road noise and fantastic views. Once over the Medway Bridges follow the A228 left where a path leads to a subway in a tree planted section, a plaque commemorates the British Rail Speed Record of 208 mph won by a Eurostar crossing the HS1 bridge. Finally, the road noise can be left behind as the North Downs Way leads you through Ranscombe where a multitude of routes lead to Cobham Mausoleum, we personally chose the route up Mill Hill where the scenic woods made for a pleasant climb to the mausoleum.

The village of CobhamThe village of Cobham
Between Cobham and LuddesdownBetween Cobham and Luddesdown

After using our National Trust cards, we headed down to Cobham through the woods where a walking path leads behind the church. This is the most lonely and beautiful section of the walk heading through Luddesdown and eventually to an obvious war memorial. Turing to the South East paths lead up to Bowling Alley and Gag plantation, alternatively Wealdway could be followed. It is in these woods that we got a little lost before plopping out at Chappel Lane. This allowed us to take a back road as far as North Halling above the blue waters of an old chalk quarry.

Crossing the Medway BridgeCrossing the Medway Bridge
Medway SunsetMedway Sunset

From Cuxton however we rejoined the road where a steep climb took us back over the Medway Bridges. Returning back into Rochester we were treated to a wonderful view of a Medway sunset, Medway consistently offered us the most beautiful sunsets.

Pictures courtesy of Kate Cash.

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