|Barden Lake, Haysen Country Park, Tonbridge|
Today's run is a 13 mile (20.95km) out and back route from Tonbridge to Penshurst Place and Gardens in Kent. Mr Bite can take credit for introducing me to the route, and we first explored it by bike on a dual-use cycle path. We are yet to visit Penshurst Place but the route is a great way to take in some beautiful scenes.
It doesn't matter exactly where you start in Tonbridge, but you'll want to make your way to Haysden Country Park, which is the starting point for many a beautiful run or cycle. If the day is clear you'll have sparkling views but if you're running in the morning in October you may be met with fog such as that visible below!
|Approaching Haysden Country Park from the Tonbridge playing fields|
If you continue along this path you will go through an open field and then some woodland before crossing a stile to a grassy expanse with a steep hill - go over the hill, then continue straight ahead and underneath the motorway. You'll find a path curving to the left which takes you to the car park from where the cycle path to Penshurst starts. You can get to this car park in a few different ways, and some trails deposit you on the quiet Lower Haysden Road. If you come that way, run away from Tonbridge and under the motorway and you will reach the car park.
|Lower Haysden Road|
From the car park there is a well signed track path towards Penshurst. At this point it is shared use for pedestrians and cyclists. Later on there are two paths, one for pedestrians only, but I recommend staying on the cycle route on your way out. It is a rough cycle route so perfect for running on - mostly hard dirt with a few gravel sections.
|Cycle route to Penshurst|
There is little navigation required for this section. The initial path goes through woodland but eventually you emerge at a road, which you carry along for a short stretch before crossing over and taking a sealed but private use road towards Penshurst. This road takes you uphill and is quite steep, but you are rewarded with views like the scene below.
|Views approaching Penshurst|
When I ran this another runner was using the same route, but on a Saturday morning, you will have plenty of space to yourself. When Mr Bite and I cycled this route on a Sunday afternoon it was busier, but still not actually busy.
|More views approaching Penshurst|
Depending on your required run length, you could push on beyond Penshurst Place to the town of Penshurst itself. I turned around at the Penshurt Place gardens and then followed the same route back for most of the way. When returning, there is a branch before you get to the cycle path car park, which allows pedestrians (not cyclists) to follow the Weald Way back to Tonbridge via a different route. It is muddier but a pleasant alternative and takes you past Haysden Water.
Route statistics: 13.02 miles / 20.95 kilometres / out and back route as I ran it / easy trail surfaces including dirt, gravel, asphalt and some road sections / scenic / mostly flat but with a couple of decent hills / very little traffic exposure.
What outdoor activities have you enjoyed lately?