Exploring Ightham, West Peckham and West Malling en-route
This is such a delightful Kent road trip to embark upon. You’ll be weaving down dappled country lanes and touring through historic Kent villages, and it all begins in Wrotham in Kent, just ½ mile from the M20.
Along the trail of this Wrotham road trip, we’ll be visiting the ancient villages of Wrotham and Ightham, the beautiful moated manor of Ightham Mote, ‘The Larkins’ village of West Peckham and the market town of West Malling.
This circular Kent mini-road trip is only around 24 miles (38.6km), it’s incredibly easy to explore at the weekend, and you’ll be discovering an idyllic slice of country life.
Our Wrotham Loop Road Trip Destinations
Once you leave the M26/M20, travel the short hop along the A20 and follow the signs to Wrotham picking, up the Bull Lane exit, which leads you directly into Wrotham village.
In Wrotham, there is a signposted village car park along West Street, which is free of charge. Let’s jump out and explore the historic village.
Firstly, don’t get distracted by the three pubs in the village; you haven’t deserved a refresher yet.
There are so many quaint homes in Wrotham, rambling roses climbing over charming red brick cottages and characterful architecture lining the pretty High Street. When visiting a location, we often use the Historic England website, which highlights the locally listed buildings and their fascinating background.
Take a stroll all-around Wrotham wandering up past the village square and its eye-catching village sign. Passing the Old School House and the 13th century St George’s Church sitting proudly overlooking Wrotham. Unusually part of the old churchyard is north of the village.
The ancient traveller route, the ‘Pilgrims Way’, which begins in London, passes through Wrotham on its way to Canterbury Cathedral.
Now getting back to those pubs, there were actually four in Wrotham until 2009. It’s great to see the village pubs still going, they are Rose and Crown, the George and Dragon and the Bull Hotel. We’ve only tried the Bull Hotel, and their BBQ menu is fantastic.
On leaving Wrotham, head west along the High Street and turn right onto Kemsing Road. Continue for 1.5 miles and turn left onto Fen Pond Road. This will lead you to our next stop, the village of Ightham.
Where to stay in Wrotham
Arriving at Ightham, head along the A227 through the village and follow the signs to the Village Hall, where you will find free parking.
The quaint village of Ightham is very picturesque, with many of its historic buildings and cottages located around the village square and along The Street.
Encircling the village war memorial are beautiful half-timbered cottages bringing so much charm and character to the village. Take a little stroll, explore the rich history amongst the lanes and enjoy the pretty English country gardens.
Many houses along The Street were originally hall-houses dating from the 16th century and have been lovingly restored and preserved centuries later.
Strolling past the historic timber-framed George and Dragon Inn, head back up Fen Pond Road. Here you’ll find St Peter’s Church rebuilt circa 1400 and sits overlooking the village of Ightham.
Within the church, you’ll see a plaque dedicated to the memory of William Sutton, a bugler. He received the Victoria Cross for an act of bravery during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Unfortunately, William lies in an unmarked grave within the churchyard.
Also, in St Peter’s Church lies Sir Thomas Cawne, the earliest known owner of Ightham Mote, where we are off to next.
Jumping back in the car, we head south out of Ightham, passing along the A227 and right onto Ismays Road. We pass through the hamlet of Ivy Hatch and onto the gorgeous National Trust site of Ightham Mote.
Hiking the Kent Countryside
This region of Kent is ideal for hikes as it is nestled amongst the North Downs (AONB), an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Pilgrims Way also weaves its way through the village of Wrotham. To explore the trails in this region of Kent, the Ordnance Survey map that will help you along the route is no. 147, ‘Sevenoaks & Tonbridge’.
Alternatively, why not purchase and download the OS Maps App, which covers all of Great Britain.
Armed with our National Trust membership cards, we visit the stunning moated manor house, Ightham Mote.
The medieval timber-framed manor was built during the early 14th-century, although the original landowner is unknown. Over the following 700 years, Ightham Mote has witnessed many fascinating proprietors, from knights to noblemen.
The last owner of Ightham Mote was an American businessman Charles Henry Robinson; he visited the medieval house as a child.
Charles lived at Ightham Mote during the summer months and restored the beautiful home for over three decades.
After Mr Robinson died in 1985, he bequeathed the manor and its furnishings to the National Trust.
Ensure you allow enough time to visit the inside of the manor and also the beautifully maintained gardens.
We have created a little YouTube video of Ightham Mote; why not take a look?
Also, if you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?
We’re now off to tour more of the lush Kent countryside.
If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".
You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.
Back touring the Garden of EnglandDiscovering Shipbourne and Plaxtol
It’s now time to wend our way further through the enchanting landscape of Kent on this Wrotham road trip. Heading a short hop south down Mote Road, we turn left onto Hildenborough Road and follow the signs slightly north to the village of Shipbourne.
Shipbourne is quite a small village; however, it has a huge area of open landscape known locally as The Common or The Green, which is popular for daily strolls. Also, in Shipbourne is the local pub, The Chaser Inn, which has a lovely beer garden. Just next door is St Giles Church which doubles as a Farmers’ Market on a Thursday morning.
We head north along Stumble Hill and turn right towards Plaxtol, into Plaxtol Lane. The attractive village of Plaxtol is very quintessentially English. It has a local village store and Post Office, a lovely little green where locals sit and pass the time of day, a Cromwellian Church and a local pub. What more could you want.
At the end of The Street, we take a hairpin right and follow the Long Mill Lane south until we reach a four-way junction where we turn left into Hamptons Road. We travel a short distance along, bear left onto Park Road and follow the signs to West Peckham. The next destination on our Wrotham road trip.
Inspired into creating your own adventure?The planning starts here
We’d visited West Peckham a few times over the years as it has a lovely pub, the Swan on the Green, which overlooks the cricket pitch. It’s a delightful spot to have a pub lunch or a sneaky pint.
The first time we drove through West Peckham to catch this Wrotham road trip on video, ITV was filming The Larkins. They let us pass through between takes, and we spotted Barney Walsh outside the pub playing the character PC Harness.
Our Kent road trips
Our next stop is the village of Mereworth. I love visiting this village because of the rather grand-looking St Lawrence Church, erected in the Neo-Palladian style. The semi-circular colonnade entrance looks quite impressive but at the same time looks quite out of place in such a small village.
Within St Lawrence churchyard lies the grave of the first recognised Victoria Cross recipient Charles David Lucas. Charles received his VC for unselfish actions when he threw a live shell overboard on the HMS Hecla in 1854.
Escape for a few days
Are you looking for that ‘perfick’ holiday hideaway to relax in while you discover the Garden of England?
After a day exploring the Kent coast and its many historic castles enjoy one of the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.
The last stop on our Wrotham road trip is to the market town of West Malling. West Malling is a lovely place to visit. It’s full of so much character and an incredible amount of history.
The welcoming lanes are overflowing with a mix of charming architecture; I loved strolling along King Street and admiring the timber-framed cottages.
Ensure you take a wander down Swan Street.
You’ll discover an 11th-century Benedictine Abbey, beautiful Georgian homes, tempting bars and a very unusual waterfall, which has links with the famous artist J.M.W. Turner.
When you’re entering West Malling, keep an eye out for the ancient English Heritage site of St. Leonard’s Tower. Little appears to be known about the history of the Norman Keep, which was built around the early 12th-century.
The tower which stands alone may have formed part of a defensive castle and is believed to have been built by Bishop Gundulf, the Bishop of Rochester.
Where to stay in West Malling (or closeby)
Note that the car park in West Malling is Pay and Display; however, to make life easier, download the RingGo app, so you don’t have to worry about loose change.
Before we leave you can check out our video on West Malling on our YouTube channel
We now wend our way back to Wrotham via the delightful village of Offham. On leaving West Malling along West Street, turn left into Offham Road and at the T-junction, turn right into Teston Road.
This route takes you through the pretty village of Offham, and then it’s a right turn to reach the A20. From here, you can either continue along the A20 to complete your circular Wrotham road trip, or when you reach the roundabout at the M26, you can head back to your desired destination.
We hope you had fun on your Wrotham road trip, don’t forget to leave a comment below to let us know how you enjoyed your adventures.
Our videos of the circular road trip from Wrotham in Kent
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