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Head for the hills

Fallow stag at Knowle Park

Fancy a proper walking challenge to help shed some of that Christmas pud? Two guided walks complete with steep hills might be just the thing.

Stout shoes and a positive frame of mind will be needed to tackle two energetic New Year walks laid on by Explore Kent. The hilly circular walks are both classed as “strenuous” by organisers, but on the plus side, they are free, of charge have some great views and involve a pub visit.

On Sunday, January 6, at 9.45am a dedicated band of walkers will meet at the public car park at Penenden Heath, near Maidstone, to tackle a 6.5-mile walk with a number of steep hills on a route, suitable for dogs, through Boxley and the North Downs Way.

The walk should take under four hours. Penenden Heath is easy to reach as it’s just a few minutes from Junctions 6 and 7 of the M20.

Ightham Mote

And on Wednesday, January 9, at 9.45am you can head to Shipbourne Common, near Tonbridge, for the start of a 10-mile walk which will take you through Underriver before heading up the steep climb at Carter’s Hill and through the deer park at Knole Park and past medieval Ightham Mote, both National Trust properties. No dogs are allowed on this walk, which could take over six hours. The Chaser pub – one of the most famous pubs in the area – is an ideal spot to rest weary legs when you get back to Shipbourne.

Organisers stress walkers should have proper walking boots shoes or boots and warm waterproof clothing.

Both walks are free, but you will need to visit www.guidedwalks.kent.gov.uk to book.

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