Darenth Country Park

After moving to the area six months ago I finally got the chance to visit one of the local country parks for a winter stroll. Darenth Country Park is a wonderfully varied site with paddocks, woodland, orchards, a chestnut walk, sculptures and a cemetery.

View across the park

Located on the edge of the North Downs above the River Darent on the site of the former Darenth Asylum it is an area that has had many uses over its lifetime and is now open to the public all year around. Well constructed paths and cycle tracks allow access for all users and you often meet riders from the Arrow riding centre for the disabled which has its home in the park.

Weeping Ash treeNear the sculpture by Artist Andy McKeown I discovered a Weeping Ash tree (Fraxinus Excelsior 'Pendula') a cultivar, commonly planted in the Victorian Period, which grows into a small to medium tree. Could this tree have watched Victorians out for a stroll?

The rich and diverse hedgerows, home to many small birds, were decorated by bright red haws and hips. Nearby the winter seeds of the rambling clematis, scrambling along a fence, lent counterpoint and texture. This clematis is native to the UK and is most commonly known as Old Man's Beard or Traveller's Joy. It is a woody relative of the common buttercup and belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. It thrives on the chalky soil and can be a burden to trees and hedgerows but here is managed to compliment and contribute to the diversity of habitat.

Close up image of the clematis seedhead

Almost back to the car was the last treat of the day - a magnificent orchard that boasts over 150 varieties of apple, pear, plum, cherry and cob nuts. I must make a date in the diary to come back to sample the fruits in season.

For those with a keen sense of adventure there are a number of Geocaches in the park to enhance your visit and satisfy the treasure hunters! Visit www.geocaching.com for more information and details of how to play...

Darenth Country Park Walk

Lichen on hawthorn in the hedgerow  Waymarker showing footpaths and cycletracks  Blankets of sedum

"Hannah is an excellent teacher and made the whole experience friendly and informative." - Gary