No.1 Valley of Vision


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23 thoughts on “No.1 Valley of Vision”

  1. Lovely ride, Jack.

    For those wishing to avoid the intimidating stretch of A225 after Shoreham, instead of turning left onto Church Street,
    continue south on Filston Lane for a little under 1/2 mile, then turn left onto Water Lane.

    Past Yew Tree Cottage the lane follows a delightful stream before fording (see map) using a narrow bridge, then climbs the hill on an access road between golf holes and past a cricket ground. You then cross the A225 to rejoin the Valley of Vision route.

    The lane was completely dry when I was there in April 2013, and makes a pleasant alternative to the A225 race track.

    1. Thanks Jon, good tip. I rode that lane/track past Filston Hall while out researching the ride. I think I considered it just a little too rough to recommend as the primary route, but can definitely endorse it it as a much quieter and more pleasant alternative.

    2. We avoided the A225 by crossing the road at the junction by Shoreham station and taking the bridleway straight up the hill. It’s one pig of climb and we were all pushing our way by the top, but it’s far preferable to risking the main road. I am a cycle courier and usually have no problem with sharing the road, but the speed of traffic on the A225 was scary, given there was no provision for cycling there. It’s the one flaw in an otherwise excellent route which was enjoyed by all on my May ‘Taking the Peaceful Route’ ride out of Walthamstow. All agreed that it should, because of the number of climbs be rated ‘strenuous’ rather than ‘moderate’. On a final sad note, the tea house in Shoreham looks as if it has recently gone bust, but the pub lunch at the King’s Arms was excellent

      1. Thanks Nic.

        The other way to avoid the A225 is by taking the bridleway through Filston Hall, as described above by JonF. In my experience the A225 varies a lot in terms of traffic, on different days and different times of day, but sounds as though it’s getting worse. So riders will be well advised to consider either the Filston Hall route or the bridleway you rode.

  2. I’m probably hallucinating but if you zoom in enough, it appears that the house next to Yew Tree Cottage is called Thurston – surely a sign!?

  3. If you do the route a second time, vary it by returning via Knatts Valley. Broadly, at the top of the climb out of Shoreham bear right, left at a crossroads and left at the golf club. It’s marked on the map. The road rolls gently down a beautiful wide valley where the remoteness is almost unsettling. No lane more lost. It finishes at Farningham to rejoin the route.

    Also worth a mention is the Plough at Eynsford. It’s not fantastic – it’s a chain restaurant-pub – but it does serve food all day, something many of the folksier places find irksome.

    1. Kate Alexander

      Thanks Sven – good tip – we did this lovely ride (thanks Jack!) for a second time and took your suggested route through Knatts Valley; a beautifully lost lane as you say 🙂

  4. I rode this yesterday, although I was riding from London so plotted my own route and didn’t realise your route goes in a figure-eight rather than a ‘squashed loop’ so I ended up in Eynsford then headed up to Romney Street rather than Lullingstone Castle. It’s a bit of a steep climb out of Eynsford that way (and climbing Magpie Bottom) and I really enjoyed that as I’m a bit of a glutton for climbs. 😉

    But riding through these amazing lanes made me really fall for Kent and I can’t wait to get back. Think I will do this route again soon, but the correct way this time! 😉

  5. Did the ride this morning, lovely crisp January day! The cycle through magpie bottom feels properly lost with deep mossy banks and grass poking up through the middle of the road. Faringham and Eynsford were both lovely villages to cycle through and stopped for a good Sunday roast at the Crown in Shoreham.

    The route description makes no mention of the start in Swanley, which is probably prudent as it’s quite without character. It might be nice to cut out swanley, start at a station in one of the villages and then explore a little to raise the mileage.

    A great little first route in the guide though!

    1. Hi Chris,
      Yes, Swanley isn’t the most exciting place in the world. However, it’s on a very fast train line from Victoria. You could get the train to Farningham Road and double back at the end I guess. But I thought there was something quite nice about that long descent from Swanley Village to South Darent. The other stations in the valley are on quite slow train lines.
      It’s always quite possible to improvise and alter the routes for yourself, I know of a few people who rode out from south London to do this ride. Glad you enjoyed it all the same.

  6. When I came to the A225 I thought oh there’s a nice bridleway just over the road and it even has a bicycle on the sign. Well it’s a shorter route but it goes straight up the hill, relentlessly. I managed about halfway, over ancient tree roots, and then had to give up and push. And then there was Magpie Bottom…

    The Honeypot in Shoreham was good but check opening times if you are going midweek, I think it was only Thursday to Sunday. Amazing number of pubs for a small village though. If you want to see Samuel Palmer’s house turn left just after the river and it is about 100 yards down. Very nice too.

    The Fox and Hounds at Romney Street has closed, rather permanently by the look of it. Just too quiet a location I suppose.

  7. Mike Mckernan

    Just completed ride no.1 all good thank you. Some great views of the city in the distance.
    Be careful on Magpie bottom as it’s been resurfaced with loose gravel?
    Enjoyed the short off road path (I was on a carbon road bike with 25mm tyres, no problems).

  8. Just completed route 1. Enjoyable but I must agree with Nic about the moderate grading,(although I obviously haven’t ridden one of your strenuous routes yet), the hills just kept on coming, Magpie Bottom’s descent was super but the uphill after was a killer. Can’t believe you rode this route on a tourer…respect! I needed all my MTB’s gears. Sunday ride so obviously the nicer spots were people dense, but well worth the trip and calories spent.

  9. Just back from this ride. We cheated and stayed the night in Shoreham at the lovely Darent Hulme Barn. We enjoyed exploring the woods around Shoreham and ate at the Crown – no tea to be had on a Tuesday afternoon! The ride was just the right length and we loved the area around Magpie Bottom. We agree with the comments about the A225 – we went up the steep bridle path by the station which was a killer – the route via Filston Lane would have been better.

  10. Just back from this ride. We cheated and stayed the night in Shoreham at the lovely Darent Hulme Barn. We enjoyed exploring the woods around Shoreham and ate at the Crown – no tea to be had on a Tuesday afternoon! The ride was just the right length and we loved the area around Magpie Bottom. We agree with the comments about the A225 – we went up the steep bridle path by the station which was a killer – the route via Filston Lane would have been better.

  11. Great ride. First I’ve done in the book. Thanks Jack. Really useful having the map and route notes online instead of in the book so you don’t have to lug it about. Only saw one magpie at Magpie Bottom. One for sorrow. Beast of a hill. The second appeared during the descent down to Eynsford which more than made up for it. Joyful.
    JonF’s A225 avoidance via Water Lane is a good tip. Was easy to cycle on fairly thin tyres (25mm) in February – although it has been a dry couple of weeks.

  12. A pleasant ride on an unexpectedly warm and sunny February afternoon.

    Following the advice in the comments we took the alternative to the A225 by riding along Water Lane then following the bridleway over the bridge. Even in February the track alongside the stream was passable on our bikes (steel tourer and a hybrid).
    Based on our experience, if you can ride the track around the back of the Lullingstone Castle then you’d be able to ride this stretch too.

    Once over the bridge it’s tarmac all the way past the golf course and up to the A225.

  13. Did the ride today, nice escape from Day 1 of Lockdown 2.0, and continuing US Election madness… Train to Swanley quick and efficient, used to navigate, all was great! Misty to start, then that cleared around lunchtime. Cafe at end of footpath by Lullingstone still open, has toilets and decent food, even in lockdown. Think the Honey Pot Cafe was closed. Did the Water Lane divert too, which was fine. Be prepared for the hills at Magpie Bottom though. I’m a regular commuter cyclist (12 miles a day), so moderately fit, but these were a struggle, on a Whyte Shoreditch hybrid 1x cassette. Made it though! Lovely ride in general! Really appreciate the care that’s gone into the book, the sharing of the routes, setting up this site for feedback – very impressive all round. Just what I needed.

    1. 1x only for the super fit, in my view. One solution is to switch to a smaller chainring for rides when you’re expecting some 10% plus hills or are carrying camping gear. In the end you may prefer it for all rides. We very rarely want a higher gear, but we all know what it’s like to to wish for a lower one! Thanks for the feedback, enjoy the rides!

  14. I did this ride today, my second from the book. Absolutely wonderful. I’m by no means a fit cyclist and I’m not used to riding hills, so it was hard going but the rewards at the top of the climbs were worth it. I used the bridleway diversion for the A225 and in hindsight I’d use the Water Lane diversion in future – I ended up pushing all the way from the main road to Fackenden Lane, took the best part of half an hour! Another tip – take a stop at Framingham church and have a look at the Nash mausoleum in the churchyard.
    Also, in response to previous comments, I didn’t stop but the Honey Pot was open and doing a roaring trade (I opted for two little stops by the ford in Eynsford). Thanks for a wonderful ride!

  15. I have done this route twice now and love it. So magical in bluebell season. Both times we avoided the A225 by crossing the road at near Shoreham station and riding parallel to the road on the little surfaced path along the bushes, then rejoining after the bend at the turnoff up the hill. It was fine on a gravel bike and a hybrid.

  16. Cycled this route yesterday midday. (14.4 km) At Lullingsworth Castle;go through the bollards and the car park and you will see a gate. Then follow the river to the visitor centre. In Shoreham the Two Brewers & the Honeypot were closed. I found the A225 quieter than a country lane. A great ride.

  17. Cycled this today and really enjoyed it – making my way through the book with my first road bike so enjoying seeing lots of new places! The A225 was so quiet I didn’t even know I’d been on it until I read the comments here, the initial part out of the ride out of Swanley was a little busy today though. As others have said the climbs were tougher than I expected but the scenery was just beautiful especially as the bluebells are out in the woods.

    Was aiming for the Honeypot but its quite small and they have a couple of bike parking spaces across the road but don’t allow bikes in their courtyard. Just before it though is the spacious courtyard cafe at the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, they are very cycle friendly (had at least 3 signs saying so), made a good cup of tea and were happy to refill bottles etc.

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