A good walk around Cobham, Kent

Cobham in Kent is surrounded by lovely countryside

Cobham is surrounded by lovely countryside - Credit: @prettylittlesnaps

For a slice of quintessential Kent this summer, hot foot it round  the idyllic village of Cobham…

@theaestheticwayfarer 1

Dickens once drank at the leather bottle - maybe you'll fancy stopping here for a pint yourself... - Credit: @theaestheticwayfarer 1

Explore the picturesque parish of Cobham, the ancient woodlands of Ashenbank, and the wonderfully wide-open landscape at Jeskyns Community Woodland, when you follow in the footsteps of literary great Charles Dickens and stride out on this four-mile trail nestled in the North Kent countryside.

The route

● Today’s route begins and ends at a small, pedestrian entrance to Ashenbank Wood, reached via a small track just off Thong Lane. Here, you will see a metal kissing gate located just ahead of you, to your left, leading directly into the woodland.

● Head into the canopy of trees, and follow a clearly marked pathway as it twists through this patch of ancient woodland following a series of red arrows marked clearly on low, wooden posts.

● This pathway will lead you through Ashenbank Wood and downhill slightly, where you will soon arrive at an area of open space, with a large metal kissing gate to your right, and a tall wooden post reading ‘Welcome to Jeskyns Community Woodland’.

● Pass through the kissing gate and - rather than heading straight ahead - turn immediately left to follow a pathway marked in the grass. This will lead you along the left-hand side of a large open field and towards a further wooden post with a Forestry England ‘Thank You’ message fixed to it.

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● Pass through the wooden pedestrian gate ahead to continue along a narrow pedestrian track. Look out for Cobham Village Sports Ground sitting to your left, a hive of activity throughout the summer months!

● This narrow track will soon bring you along a gravel driveway (past a number of spectacular properties), arriving at the side of the main road running through Cobham village (The Street).

● Here, turn left and walk towards the timbered frame of The Leather Bottle, sitting on the left-hand side of the road. This picturesque pub is well-known to have been frequented by Charles Dickens, and is well worth a photo!

● With The Leather Bottle on your left, cross the road and ascend the short flight of steps that lead up into the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene Church. Walk towards the church entrance, and veer right following the path as it leads round the building and down behind the church.

● As the pathway opens up in front of you, turn to your right and head straight towards a metal kissing gate in front of you, leading into a vast orchard.

● Here, you'll see a clear route leading you straight ahead, through the rows of fruit trees that should be climbing high up their wooden posts. Your route will be clearly waymarked by a number of yellow arrows positioned on wooden posts throughout. Predominantly this stretch of the route will lead straight ahead, but you will veer to the right slightly about halfway through, and be led towards the far boundary where you’ll exit the orchard via a metal kissing gate.

● Walkers should take care here, as you will find yourself on the edge of a busy, fast stretch of road (Sole Street). Cross here to enter a second, smaller orchard via another metal kissing gate.

● Again, your route through this orchard will be clearly waymarked, and you will soon see a large mound of wooden crates piled high in front of you. Walk along the left-hand side of this mound, and through a clearing in the hedgerow ahead (situated in the left corner of this field).

● You’ll enter a large expanse of open landscape here, where you should be able to make out the outline of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge (Dartford Crossing) in the distance ahead.

● Rather than heading straight ahead here, turn right to follow a grass pathway as it leads in between the hedgerows (you’ll see an electricity pylon directly in front of you here), and snakes to your right turning into a gravel pathway that will lead you back towards the main road (Jeskyns Road) once again.

● Cross the main road here and, rather than follow the pedestrian route straight ahead, turn right to walk along the edge of the main road for approx. 200 metres until you arrive by National Trust property Owletts.

● Just before Owletts you’ll see a gravel pathway on your left, which you should turn down and follow until you arrive at a wooden pedestrian gate leading back into Jeskyns Community Woodland on your right. Through the gate, turn left onto a gravel pathway and follow the route as it leads you through this stretch of community landscape and along to another wooden gate.

● Head through this, turning left to walk alongside a shaded stretch of pathway beneath the trees. Up ahead a metal kissing gate on your right will lead you back into Ashenbank Wood.

● Follow the pathway through the woods as it leads you uphill, weaving back through Ashenbank, concluding at the entrance to the woods from where you first started today’s route.

Steps, stats & stiles At just over 4 miles (6.6km) long, you should allow approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to complete this pretty, rural circuit. The circular route contains a mixture of terrains, including tarmac roads, uneven woodland and open landscape. Walkers should ensure that they are wearing appropriate footwear.

Make a day of it If today’s hike has left you hungry to uncover more of this historic slice of Kent,  head five miles north and spend an afternoon exploring Gravesend’s fascinating riverside setting. Discover the town’s newly refurbished Borough Market (dating back to 1268), take a tour of St George’s Church where you’ll find the resting place of Pocahontas, and marvel at Gravesend’s magnificent Sikh Temple, one of the largest in Europe.

Refreshments Situated right in the heart of sleepy Cobham village you’ll find the traditionally timbered frame of The Leather Bottle. Known to many as Charles Dickens’ favourite ale house, this picturesque pub offers ramblers the perfect point for a pit-stop.

Route followed: For this month’s route we followed the Ashenbank Wood to Jeskyns Circular Walk map on the AllTrails app