A new walking app is promoting sustainable travel options by providing 17 new Rail Trails, with all routes starting and ending at mainline Kent stations.
The Darent Valley Landscape Partnership has expanded the Darent Valley Trails app, which was launched last summer with an audio trail narrated from the perspective of renowned English landscape artist Samuel Palmer.
The Rail Trails also support the work of the Darent Valley Community Rail Partnership (CRP) 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.
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 showcase the diversity and rich heritage of the Darent Valley landscape, encouraging people to discover meadows, valleys, lavender fields, historic features, wildlife and much more. Many of the routes are within the nationally protected landscape of the Kent Downs Area of Natural Beauty.
The Trails have been designed with clear guidance, points of reference, and can be used in low or no-mobile signal areas.
Sarah Newman, Rail Officer for the Darent Valley CRP, said: ‘’The Rail Trails have been a wonderfully collaborative project between the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Darent Valley CRP, 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.’’
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.”
The Rail Trails are available to use on the Darent Valley Trails app, downloadable free of charge on the App Store and Google Play. Walkers can download their app on the train’s free Wi-Fi, ready and armed with all the need to enjoy a day out.
You can keep up to date with future news, projects, and events from the Darent Valley CRP via their website.