Kent Ramblers

Walk 7

Walk 7: High Elms and Downe

Distance: 3.6 miles (1h 40m)

OS Map: Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ440625)

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Park in the Cuckoo Wood car park if approaching from Shire Lane, this is down High Elms Road on the left half a mile beyond the golf club house.

Leave the car park by the entrance and take the path immediately opposite. Cross the bridle path, go through a kissing gate and follow the footpath across the meadow, a carpet of cowslips in spring, towards woodland. Continue parallel to the woodland on the left, passing several numbered posts forming part of the High Elms Trail. Pass through a small copse and bear left along edge of grassy area past two seats to meet a broader path between hedges at a T-junction. Turn left and follow this path, crossing another path and a bridleway, to North End Lane.

Turn left and take the first turn on the right along Bogey Lane. Soon climb steps on left into field and follow side of field to corner. Descend through gap and turn left until you reach a broader farm track (Orange Court Lane). Take the path opposite, bearing left across a field and then turning right along the right hand edge of the next field. Follow the path between fences to Rookery Road.

Turn left along the road and take great care, walking on the outside of bends until you reach a pavement after passing North End Lane on the left. Walk through the village, keeping left right round the church so that you end up going down High Elms Road and pass the primary school on your left. Go through the recreation ground and then follow a bridleway parallel to the lane. On emerging at the junction between Mill Lane and High Elms Lane, cross the lane and go down High Elms Lane (very carefully) until it bends sharp left.

Just after the bend, take a footpath on the right. Climb diagonally to the far corner of the field and then cross the next field diagonally to the far edge. Bear right downhill along the left hand edge of the field until the path enters woodland. Turn left uphill. After a few metres, join a broader path and turn right. Continue until you reach a barrier and turn left uphill along a replanted beech avenue the original was destroyed in the 1987 gale and replanting was financed in 1989 by the Rotary Club and others. At the top turn left and follow the edge of the wood, passing posts 16, 15, 14 (note the round brick watering hole for pheasants built in the nineteenth century), 13 (where you bear right), 12 & 11 of the nature trail, to the car park. 

High Elms Estate

High Elms House was the home of John Lubbock, first Lord Avebury, whose claims to fame are many.  He was a keen naturalist and anthropologist; a friend and supporter of Charles Darwin who lived at Downe; a banker, politician and social reformer.  He saved Avebury stone circle from developers and was responsible for introducing bank holidays.  He died in 1913.  The house burned down in 1967 but the estate survives for public use in the ownership of the London Borough of Bromley.

There is a Nature Centre open from 11 to 4 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Downe Church

In the churchyard is a memorial to Charles Darwin, his wife Emma and his brother Erasmus.  However Charles is not buried here as he had wished, but in Westminster Abbey.

Our book of Ten Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more walks like this one.

Ramblers' volunteers in Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected and maintained as possible.  Of course we also organise led walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply want to support our footpath work.  Please join us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

If you find that the directions and map for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to

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