Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership
Explore West Kent on the Darent Valley Community Railway
Take the train to see lavender fields, a vineyard and historic houses in the pretty Darent Valley countryside
The Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership is a sustainable, scenic and relaxing way to explore this pretty corner of West Kent, whether you’re local or visiting the area on holiday.
The railway makes it easy to escape to the beautiful countryside of the Darent Valley and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In less than 30 minutes you can leave the capital behind on a car-free getaway near London.
The Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership (CRP) connects 12 miles (19 km) of rolling countryside between Swanley and Sevenoaks, stopping at four stations along the way. There’s lots to see and do at each station, or you can hop off the train to stretch your legs along the Darent Valley Path, picking up the train again further along the line.
Sevenoaks Station: shopping, culture and heritage
The historic market town of Sevenoaks thrums with independent and high street shops, cafes, restaurants and bars and the Stag Sevenoaks, a thriving community arts centre. Stroll the length of the High Street to see Knole, a 600-year-old estate in an exquisite medieval deer park. If you’re a cricketer, pay homage to the sport at The Vine, the birthplace of modern three-stump cricket.
Bat & Ball Station: wildlife and restaurants
Jump off at quirkily named Bat & Ball to explore Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. You’ll also find indie shops and restaurants lining nearby St John’s Hill – if you can bring yourself to leave the characterful restored Victorian station, that is! Sevenoaks’ original train station was used by Queen Victoria when she visited Knole, and the stylishly renovated station café has a small shop selling local produce.
Otford Station: history and planetary alignments
You’d never know it when you first step off the train at this quiet village with a duck pond at its heart, but Otford was once home to one of the biggest palaces in England. You can still see Otford Palace’s one remaining tower, just beyond the village green. Get a sense of the vastness of space at the Otford Solar System, a large scale model that accurately depicts the positions of the planet at midnight, 1 January 2000.
Shoreham Station: wine tasting, artistic heritage and beautiful scenery
A pretty village with a medieval bridge spanning the River Darent, Shoreham is the place to get off for country walks and wine tasting at the award-winning Mount Vineyard. The artist Samuel Palmer once lived here – you might even recognise some of the nearby countryside and 15th-century buildings from his paintings. Shoreham is also a great place to join the Darent Valley Path and see lavender striping the fields purple (late-June to early-July) at The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, the UK’s largest lavender producer, as you walk towards Eynsford.
Eynsford Station: ancient ruins, a world-class garden and castles
In and around Eynsford you’ll find the Norman remains of Eynsford Castle, Lullingstone Roman Villa (the largest excavated Roman villa in England) and Lullingstone Country Park. Don’t miss Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden, which was envisioned by plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke, the current heir to England’s oldest family estate, when he was famously kidnapped on a plant-hunting expedition on the notorious Panama-Colombia border, in 2000.
Swanley Station: hiking, a park and play
The town of Swanley is another great spot to join the Darent Valley Path and it has one of the best parks in the area. If you’re travelling with children, they’ll love exploring Swanley Park, 24 hectares (60 acres) of outdoor space filled with a boating lake, paddling pool, watersplash, bouncy castle zone, dino karts, mini golf, tree trek and a play area with a zip wire.
For more information on the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership, please email email@example.com
How can you get involved in the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership?
Do you take lots of photos on your travels? Please share your favourite pictures snapped while using the Darent Valley CRP. We’d also love to see any old photographs of the Darent Valley CRP stations.
We want to use your photographs to create 'One Big Picture', a community art project to celebrate the new Darent Valley CRP.
To get involved, please email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org