A Geomorphological Walk in the Darent Valley
(TQ 560684 to TQ 526638)
Saturday 14th June 2008

Searching the river Darenth for aquatic specimens

This walk was aimed primarily at the younger members, though there was plenty for the older members to enjoy.

Before starting the walk we returned to the Westminster Bridge where Ann introduced the younger members to the game of 'pooh sticks'. This was not a trivial pursuit, but illustrated the principle used by sailors of early sailing ships to estimate their speed as part of the task of navigation. It may also be used to calculate roughly the rate of flow of water in the river.

There is a large circular pool at the side of the river, just south of the village. This had been formed by a small eddy at the side of the river developing into a whirlpool that, over time, had eroded the bank. While the younger members worked this out with Ann's help, Adrian took the opportunity to search for aquatic specimens (see picture above left).

Adrian Rundle looks for aquatic fauna

Later, on the river's edge, Ann used the local geological map to explain the geology of the river. The map showed how deposits of clay, sand, and gravel indicated the locations of earlier rivers. This was to be confirmed, on the ground in the afternoon, in the geomorphology west of Lullingstone Castle.

During the return Adrian found a clump of Non-stinging Nettle, Urtica galeopsifolia which is quite rare. The grid reference was noted, using a GPS, for reporting the find to Eric Philp.

At lunch time many members stayed at Horton Kirby to enjoy the village fete in the afternoon. The rest of us drove to Lullingstone Country Park.

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After lunch we walked the river bank northwards to Lullingstone Castle, giving Adrian further opportunities to search for aquatic fauna (see picture above right).

From Lullingstone Castle we headed up the hill towards the golf course. We passed a depression surrounded by Yew trees, where we saw toads and a fine fungus (see pictures below) and walked through meadows filled with wild flowers before descending again to the car park of the Lullingstone Country Park where we took advantage of the refreshment facilities before calling it a day.

This is a lovely part of the countryside for a walk, with plenty of interest for all ages.

For anyone wishing to make detailed study of the area it is recommended that they arm themselves with the following documentation:-

  • British Geological Survey, England and Wales Sheet 271, Dartford, 1:50,000 Series.
  • Darent Valley Path Guide, Published by Kent County Council, 2007.
    ISBN: 1-901-509-77X, Price £4.99, available from the KCC on-line shop.
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer Map Sheet 162, Greenwich and Gravesend. 1:25,000 Series.

Special thanks are due to Ann Barrett for organising and leading the walk; to Anne Padfield and Nick Baker for help in the planning; to Anne Padfield for geological expertise during the walk and to Adrian Rundle who, as always, was a mine of information on all wildlife matters.

Some pictures of the wildlife seen on the walks, taken by Stephen Taylor, are shown below:-

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Male Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens False Oil Beetle, Oedemera nobilis
Male Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens, at Lullingstone Country Park
A False Oil Beetle,Oedemera nobilis, at Lullingstone Country Park
Larva of the Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis A splendid bracket fungus aamong Yew trees
Larva of the Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, Lullingstone Country Park
A splendid Fungus, among yew trees to the west of Lullingstone Castle

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Access and Safety

Horton Kirby is a lovely, small village 1.5 Km north of the A20 and 3 Km west of junction 3 of the M25. There is a small car park at the sports ground west of the river Darent. The riverside walk, southwards from the sports ground, along the west bank and returning via the east bank is about 1.5 - 2 Km and is on public footpaths.

Lullingstone Country Park is 1.5 Km south of Eynsford on the A225. After leaving Eynsford the road passes under a railway line; the Country Park is reached via a signposted right fork after 0.5Km.

The riverside walk to Lullingstone Castle and the return via the golf course are on public footpaths.

Note:The walks are suitable for all abilities. However, riverbanks can be very slippery. Rivers and streams, however shallow and slow flowing, can always present a hazard. Young people should be carefully supervised at all times.