Spin-off 5

The Kentish Weald Arc: Eynesford to Tatsfield via stately homes
Hilliness
Undulating
Very Hilly
Ride Conditions
Good
Unsurfaced
Percent Off-road
20%
Distance
29.6 miles
Signed
no signage

Tags

Description

Spinoff 5 mirrors the Essex Outer Arc to its north, being another arc or loop, delving into superb countryside beyond the M25. But it’s accessible from several stations on the Maidstone, Redhill–Tonbridge and Uckfield lines, so this, the longest and hilliest track, can be tackled in any number of ways. It passes through some of the loveliest landscapes of southern England, and there are a number of castles, houses and gardens to visit along the way, as well as high viewpoints to catch your breath after some big climbs. The family friendly section is the largely off-road Eden valley section from Leigh, via Penshurst, Chiddingfold to Hever.

It is also the only Cycle Orbital route with a significant offroad section that could and should be upgraded – Penshurst to Hever via Chiddingstone: it would extend and improve Regional Route 12 (Tonbridge to Penshurst Place) through to Edenbridge.

You will encounter lots of geology on this and the next two spinoffs; after leaving the chalk Downs you pass down canyons through the Upper Greensand, climb big hills of Lower Greensand before the Jurassic Wealden Series rocks.

The route starts at Eynsford – the ford in question appearing almost immediately, after which 0.3 the first of many climbs to come, on Bower Lane, starts steeply. However, the variant parallel climb Spinoff 5 var just to the north up the Knatts valley, starting from Framlingham, is a gentle ascent to begin with – and makes for a spectacular brake-free descent riding counter-clockwise/northwards; your choice! The Knatts valley route joins at Clark’s Bottom 3.9, then a short further climb, past The Rising Sun, “the pub that time forgot”, and the scarp slope of the North Downs 4.5 is reached; prepare for a steep descent and sharp R on the Pilgrim’s Way 5.0. There is a poorly signed, rather overgrown but passable byway 5.5 to take you R into Kemsing village.

The road L 6.0 to Seal 7.6 has opportunities for fine views over the vale to the North Downs. Continuing S through Wildernesse Golf Course is a steady ascent of the Lower Greensand to 8.7 Godden Green. R and then L onto a track (R fork) into Godden Wood, and then through a gate 9.1 into Knowle Park NT. The Duchess Walk track through the golfcourse has been resurfaced (2021) - previously very unstable - from which you get glimpses of the most magnificent property on the whole system – Knowle (NT) 9.7. Courteous and responsible cycling on appropriate paths is encourage by the National Trust, but the hazard here could be deer… Leave the park by climbing up Broad Walk to Julian Road 11.0.

Turn R on A225 briefly, then L Gracious Lane; continue straight 11.9 if returning to Cycle Orbital and Knockholt via Spinoff 5 link otherwise L on Hubbard’s Hill.  This is a steep and very fast descent to Sevenoaks Weald 12.9. Pastoral but wide roads then take you to Leigh 17.2. R for the River Eden 17.8, where the delightful off-road journey starts, first to Penshurst 19.3, then Chiddingstone 22.4 and finally Hever 24.3 - charming villages all with attendant Houses or Castles.

After the on-road section through Chiddingstone, the suggested upgrade: at 23.5 the gate is barred, but a footpath skirts, and until the final 200m, which is footpath only, a metalled road shadows the footpath. This could be upgraded to a cycle path very easily (the only cycle path with a flyover footpath? – until, tragically, it was demolished or collapsed a couple of years ago) and enhance the touristic connections of the three locations.

More country roads via Four Elms 27.0 take you from Hever to the next big climb, towards Chartwell 29.3. Up and over Hosey Hill and down to Westerham, where General Wolfe’s Quebec House NT is on the corner as you reach the A25 31.1. The Croydon Road 31.4 is a wide and fast B-road, but that's not unwelcome after a long eventful journey. If you don’t fancy another big climb of the Downs, Oxted Link S 29 takes you easily to Oxted from just before Chartwell via Froghole Lane and Crockham Hill.

Route
Knowle residents: Spin-off 5
Penshurst Place: Spin-off 5
Chiddingstone Post Office: Spin-off 5