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NEW APP GIVES WALKERS 17 RAIL TRAILS ACROSS THE DARENT VALLEY

There’s a new walking app available to download free which provides 17 new Rail Trails in West Kent, starting and ending at mainline stations.

The Darent Valley Partnership has expanded the Darent Valley Trail app which was launched last summer with an audio trail following artist Samuel Palmer. The trails can be used offline to give the walker the choice of both circular and linear routes ranging from 2.5 to 9 miles.

These routes explore the landscapes of the Darent Valley with their rich heritage, encouraging people to discover meadows, valleys, lavender fields, history, wildlife and much more. Many of the routes are within the nationally protected landscape of the Kent Downs AONB.

The varying length of the routes on the app allows users to match the trails to their leisure time and tastes, whether they have an hour, or a whole day. They showcase the diversity of the Darent Valley landscape and have also been designed with clear guidance, points of reference, and can be used in low or no-mobile signal areas.

Jennifer Smith, Interpretation and Community Learning Manager from the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme said:

“The Rail Trails have been created to offer a collection of routes for people who are keen to reconnect with the landscape, want ease of travel and clear guidance. They are versatile and offer trails suitable for those looking for a good hike as well as those who want to follow shorter routes. We’ve got everything from gunpowder mills, medieval deer park, chalk stream, a Victorian viaduct, Roman villas and riverside villages – within our landscape, and there’s usually a good pub or tearoom within proximity.  Our Samuel Palmer Trail (launched in summer 2022) remains the highlight of this app with its audio trail narrated from the renowned English landscape artist’s perspective. The trail uncovers Palmer’s inspirations and explores how this idyllic valley helped him create unusual and creative painting styles. It features a circular route of 12 points with accompanying images of Palmer’s artwork.”

Sustainable day trips

The Rail Trails promote sustainable travel options with all routes starting and ending at North Kent stations. Walkers can even download their app on the train’s free Wi-Fi, ready and armed with all they need to enjoy a day out.

Featured trails on the app include:

  • Heritage and Meadows: 2.5-mile linear route from the historic Bat & Ball station to Otford station – with an opportunity to explore and enjoy the village’s wealth of heritage sites and buildings.
  • Downs and Butterflies: 2.7-mile circular route from Otford station – visiting Otford chalk pit and Fackenden Down nature reserve, whilst being immersed in the panoramic views of the Darent Valley landscape.
  • Wetlands and Wildlife: 4.3-mile circular route from Dunton Green station – enjoying the sights and sounds of wildlife in the wetland and woodland habitats of Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
  • Valleys and Vistas: 5.3-mile circular route from Otford station – exploring the stunning countryside around Otford, from the valley bottom along the Darent Valley Path to the panoramic vistas from the valley top of the villages and landscapes below.
  • Veterans and Lavender: 8-mile circular route from Eynsford station – circular walk taking you through the heart of the Darent Valley landscape, with panoramic views, including the famous Castle Farm lavender field and majestic veteran trees and impressive heritage sites.
  • River and Ruins: 9-mile linear route from Farningham Road station to Eynsford station – along the middle section of the Darent Valley Path, following the tranquil River Darent with impressive heritage features through the ages dotted throughout.

The Rail Trails also support the work of the Community Rail Partnership which maintains and promotes six stations in the area, (Eynsford, Swanley, Shoreham, Otford, Sevenoaks and the historic Bat & Ball station). The partnership encourages passengers to use the stations to visit local tourism attractions and to appreciate local heritage and culture, leaving their cars behind and walking or cycling.

Sarah Newman, Rail Officer for the Darent Valley Line/Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership said:

‘’The Rail Trails have been a wonderfully collaborative project between the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership, and committed walking enthusiasts living in the area.  Bringing together a love and deep knowledge of this beautiful landscape, we have devised a variety of walks which explore all areas of this unique valley, taking in its fascinating local history, unusual, rare habitats and stunning views – and we touch on the extraordinary stories of famous and less well-known local residents.  Each of the walks starts and ends at one of the stations in the Darent Valley catchment area, served by Southeastern or Thameslink trains. We have built in plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view, or a local café, pub or restaurant to keep you going – there’s so much to explore.’’

The Rail Trails are available to use on the Darent Valley Trails app, downloadable free of charge on the App Store and Google Play.

The Darent Valley Trails app – Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme (darent-valley.org.uk)

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