5 of the best autumn walks in Kent - with a FREE downloadable walk
Looking for the best autumn walks in Kent? You're in the right place, because here we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite routes - walks chosen specifically to make the most of beautiful colours, ramble-friendly temperatures and quiet paths...
All of these walks originally appeared in our popular title, Kent Year Round Walks. The first walk you come to below (at Mereworth), appears exactly as it does in the book, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions.
📥 You can even click here to download a PDF version, which you can print or take with you on your phone.
Below that are a number of further recommendations for places to get out for a walk in Kent this autumn.
Mereworth (4 miles)
Starting in the village of Mereworth, near the classic Palladian-style church with its eye-catching steeple and remarkable neo-classical interior, this route takes you past a cobnut plantation and fields where strawberries and other soft fruit are grown. You pass a large pond with ducks then a section through woodland that displays a lovely palette of leaf colours in the autumn sunshine. The woods are filled with birds, the large nests of wood ants and many toadstools. There are also fine views on the walk and you pass an attractive 17th century mansion.
- How to get there: Mereworth is 6 miles west of Maidstone, at the junction of the A26 with the A228. Buses (Arriva) from Maidstone, Tonbridge and Kings Hill run through the village.
- Refreshments: The Moody Mare gastropub is on the B2016 about ¾ mile north-west of Mereworth, and the Swan is in West Peckham, a mile west.
1. At the end of the lay-by nearest the church look for a footpath sign on the verge and cross the road to go on a tarmac track alongside Torrington House, walking between houses then ahead on a path to the left of a cottage. Behind the hedge on the right of the path is a plantation of cobnuts. After 200 yards, where the path divides, keep right on a path between a hedge on the left and fence on the right, to reach a stile and go ahead on a drive until you reach a lane. Keep straight on along the lane, which soon bends left, and keep left where it forks, passing a large house and with good views to the left later. Continue straight on where New Pound Lane goes off to the right and past a thatched barn to reach a main road.
2. Cross the busy road with great care and go along a track at a footpath fingerpost. Soon pass a metal gate (signed No Bridleway) and go ahead on the left side of a field. Lots of strawberries are grown here, many on a table-top system under plastic tunnels. Keep right at a fork in the track and continue straight on to go past a metal gate to a lane.
3. Turn left along the lane for 100 yards then turn right, immediately after a large pond, to go on a track alongside the pond. Continue ahead to the right of a stone cottage then left of a line of conifer trees and through a gate in a metal barrier. Keep straight on along a path on the left side of a valley. Where the path reaches trees don’t enter the wood but veer right alongside the trees, soon bending left to walk through an open area that gradually narrows, with trees on both sides. The path enters the wood, going gradually uphill between tall conifer trees then on a track between hazel bushes.
After ½ mile you reach a crossroads of tracks near a group of oak trees (no markers). Go left here on a track that climbs gradually uphill between low banks. Look out for the large nests of wood ants, made of pine needles and other debris. Keep straight on where a track comes in from the left and continue ahead for ½ mile on a track between trees that are coppiced (cut down to ground level) every few years. You may also see fly agaric toadstools, crimson with white spots – attractive but poisonous.
4. On reaching a lane by a metal barrier turn left along the lane. Keep straight on where Peckham Hurst Road comes in from the right then, just past the drive to The Hurst, take the right fork in the lane. At a T-junction with another lane turn right for 30 yards then go left at a wooden fingerpost onto a track through trees.
Keep straight ahead to the right of a fenced area with a telephone mast disguised as a tree. There are fine views to the right as you go downhill and the mansion of Mereworth Castle, with its distinctive dome, can be seen in the distance. Go straight ahead at a cross-track to keep left of a house and later over another cross-track and ahead on a wide track between wire fences. There are good views of the back of Yotes Court, a 17th-century mansion, on the right.
At a T-junction with another track turn right, on a drive past houses. Immediately after Yotes Cottage, with its unusual arched windows, turn left on a track between a hedge and trees and past barns. Later the track bends right between trees and reaches a lane. Turn left for a few yards to the main road and cross via the refuge on the left then go ahead alongside the road through Mereworth village, past the school and on to the lay-by.
4 more autumn walks in Kent
Upper Halling (4 miles)
This is an invigorating walk, with some climbs and descents on the North Downs, but you are rewarded with lovely views over the Medway valley, even as far as the historic buildings of Rochester. The countryside is very wooded, so looks fantastic in autumn as the leaves of the trees turn to bronze and gold and there are red berries and hips in the hedgerows. In the summer months, you can see lots of wild flowers, including orchids.
The route passes close to a tiny Norman church and it only requires a short diversion to view this. Chatham dockyards are 6 miles away, considered by Dickens to be a ‘place of wonderment’. The Historic Dockyard Chatham has buildings, museums and warships to explore. It also offers ‘Dickens’ Dockyard Tours’ on Sundays in spring and summer. Check the website for prices and opening times (www.thedockyard.co.uk).
Lower Higham (6 miles)
The atmospheric marshes of north Kent are the setting for this route, as you follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens who often walked in this area. The churchyard of St James’ church in Cooling is 4 miles from here. It was the inspiration for the opening chapters of Great Expectations.
It is worth taking binoculars as the route leads through the RSPB nature reserve at Cliffe Pools, where there are many species of water-loving birds such as rare avocets. You can also scan the ships of various sizes on the River Thames and look across to Essex on the opposite bank. You will see historic forts, built in the mid-19th century to defend London from invasion along the Thames.
Headcorn (4 miles)
The route begins by passing attractive timbered houses and the ancient church in Headcorn before crossing the River Beult and going through pleasant countryside south of the village.
You walk on field paths, over streams and past small woods, which show some wonderful leaf hues in autumn. There are good views to the higher ground of the Greensand Ridge and you will often see small planes flying in and out of the nearby airfield.
High Halden (4 miles)
Starting at the village green at High Halden, near the lovely church with its unique timbered tower, the walk goes through pleasant rolling countryside with fine views.
It makes for a great walk on a misty autumn day, as there are several sections of native woodland which are displaying their range of leaf colours at that season. It is also a lovely walk in spring and summer when there are woodland flowers to enjoy.
- Rory Batho