Otford: a great base for cycling

Sunrise over the Kent countryside

With narrow winding country roads weaving between pretty villages and quaint country pubs, the wildlife-rich countryside around this peaceful village is lovely to explore by bike.

Otford lies in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, less than one kilometre from the M25 and the M26 motorways, but it remains a small, quiet and peaceful village. 

It’s been a form of settlement for at least 3,000 years, with former residents including Iron Age farmers, Romans, archbishops and even royalty. It has also been the site for two battles and sits on the Pilgrim’s Way, an historic route taken by pilgrims between Winchester and Canterbury Cathedral. 

Although relatively close by, London feels very distant in this area, with beautiful quiet countryside and rolling hills. Narrow winding country roads weave between pretty villages and quaint country pubs offer local beers, cider and wines made from produce all grown in the very fields you will be cycling through.  

The countryside is rich with wildlife, including herds of deer that roam the area, made easy to spot as they bound across the wide-open spaces between the pretty woodlands into which they disappear without a trace. Bluebells provide a carpet of blue in early spring, while roadsides and farm tracks become lined with colourful wild blooms and blackbirds sing around you from the branches.

This countryside is also home to some wonderful historical interest too, from old Tudor houses with white wattle and daub walls and black beams to grand manor houses with huge gardens to modern art deco houses. 

Otford park has a large, full-scale representation of our planets, which is worth a visit. Also within the village is Otford Palace. When it was built in 1515 AD for Archbishop Warham, it was one of the largest palaces in England, comparable in size to Hampton Court. In the 17th century, the buildings fell into disrepair and now all that remains is part of the North Range (the North West corner tower, part of the Northern Gatehouse and connecting wall) which has been turned into a row of three small cottages. St Bartholomew church, a Grade 1 listed building, is located close to the Archbishop’s Palace, a designated ancient monument and heritage site of National significance.

    Cycle routes and cycle friendly places near Otford


    Otford Knockholt gravel ride (29 Miles)

    This gravel route heads back inside of the M25, exploring some lovely quiet country roads and venturing down delightful tree-lined bridleways, while passing through quaint villages, including that of Charles Darwin’s. With country pubs, cycling cafés, local breweries, vineyards and gourmet caterers along the journey too, your tastebuds are in for a real treat.       


    Otford Eynsford road ride (21 Miles)

    Heading north, this route follows lovely quiet back roads, with a big climb followed by a long flowing descent to the interesting town of Eynsford, with its own castle. After passing beneath a tall viaduct to a Roman Villa, Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden, the route continues up the far side of the valley, before descending to Shoreham where tearooms and pubs await. 


    Otford Kemsing gravel ride (28 Miles)

    This ride first explores the hillier woodland riding to the south of the M26, visiting the 14th century Ingtham Moat along the way, before venturing further east. Joining the lovely Pilgrim’s Way for parts of the journey, there is the option to extend your adventures further, or just enjoy the easier return leg. 


    Hilal restaurant in Otford offering a Turkish meze, grill experience.

    Bull pub in Otford, located opposite the car park has a large beer garden, and serves quintessential pub classics.

    Pondview café, by the pond (roundabout) in Otford provides a range of refreshments throughout the day, with friendly service and a nice outlook.  

    The Woodman pub in Otford, located near the pond, is a cycle friendly pub offering a classic pub menu and warm welcome.  

    Velo Barn Café – This wonderful little café is a cyclist’s haven, with bike racks, inside and outside seating, serving delicious coffee and cakes, but is also a small bike shop with mechanic.

    Papermarkers Arms – This pub in Plaxtol is very cyclist friendly, offering a nice beer garden and  serves wonderful food


    Getting there

    By train: there is a train station in the village, serviced by both Thameslink and South-eastern railways, connecting it with central London and southbound to the likes of Ashford International.

    By road: Otford lies just off junction 5 of the M25, at the start of the M26, so is easy to access via the road network. 

    By bike: there aren’t any National Cycle Network routes which run through Otford, but you can use the Cycling UK journey planner to find a quiet route.


    Interesting places nearby

    More cycling experiences in Kent, Cornwall and Norfolk

    Lenham and Hollingbourne is just one of our highlighted locations that's perfect for cycling. Here's Cycling UK's full set of cycle-friendly hubs, with accredited facilities and promoted routes 

    CornwallBodminHelston; Penzance and Marazion

    Kent: Canterbury; Dover; Lenham and Hollingborne; Otford; Wye

    Norfolk: Cromer; Diss; Fakenham; Hunstanton; Swaffham; ThetfordWroxham and Hoveton

    Cyclists riding towards the sunrise with the port of Dover in the distance

    Experience the Garden of England on a 234km bikepacking tour around East Kent

    EXPERIENCE is a €23.3 million project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, €16 million) through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme 2014-2020, boosting visitor numbers in six pilot regions across England and France. This project will harness the experiential tourism trend to extend the season (October – March), generating 20 million new off-season visitors spending €1 billion across the Channel region by June 2023.

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