More about Hucking Estate

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This large and engaging site offers a mix of ancient woodland, new tree planting and open grassland; together with a wealth of archaeological gems, wonderful walks, interesting wildlife and breath-taking views - set in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Hook and Hatchet Inn is right next door where you can park, eat and drink, and pick up our walks leaflet.

This 573 acre (282 hectare) site offers an engaging and varied mix of habitats, set in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Ancient and newly planted woodland, carpets of wildflowers throughout the spring and summer, open rides and chalk grassland areas are all home to a wide variety of wildlife. These include twenty one species of butterfly such as the rare purple hairstreak which is regularly seen feeding on aphid honey dew throughout July. Three species of bat live in the old chalk pits in the ancient part of the wood, and ten bird species listed on the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan make their home here, including the turtle dove, skylark and song thrush.

Take a guided tour of our Hucking Estate with site manager, Clive Steward. Video production funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

In spring, carpets of bluebell, wood anemone and dog’s mercury add to the vibrancy and colour of the ancient woodland areas, while across the estate the spring and summer months bring a variety of other flowers including lords and ladies, early purple orchid, primrose, rosebay willow herb and yellow archangel. 

Hucking’s a great place for walks and for enjoying stunning scenery across the Weald of Kent, with two way-marked trails, a network of permissive footpaths and a bridleway. Meander through the ancient woodland with its oak standards, areas of coppiced stools, and fine 200 year-old specimens of small leaved lime and beech. Or enjoy the verdant splendour of the 180,000 broad leaf trees planted in the late-1990s, which include many of the pre-existing species but with the addition of yew, whitebeam and wild cherry.

And for those interested in archaeology, there are interpretation boards and leaflets on-site which explain what features  to look out for – such as the wood banks, chalk and marl pits and an ancient drove road - and how these fit into the site’s history.

Enjoy the breathtaking aerial views of our Hucking Estate. Video production funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Fighting ash dieback at Hucking Estate

The arrival in the UK of ash dieback is having a real impact on our woodland. It is predicted that the disease will spread in the years ahead, threatening populations of ash trees. At Hucking Estate, we are working with the Forestry Commission and Forest Research trialling plantations of young ash trees to find out which ones are naturally resistant. Identifying which trees have a natural resistance will be used in breeding programmes so that we can save ash for the future.

Austin Brady explains how we are researching ash dieback resistance at our Hucking Estate. Video production funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Events at Hucking Estate

Join us for a walk, see the beauty of the wood through a lens or wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with friends and family.

Setting

The Hucking Estate (574 acres/232.3 ha) is located around the village of Hucking, with Hollingbourne just over two miles to the south and the centre of Maidstone approximately nine and a half miles away, in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Estate runs to the escarpment of the North Downs along the southern boundary, which on a clear day affords fantastic views across the Weald of Kent.

OS Explorer 148, Landranger 188, TQ843575.

Refreshments & toilets

The Hook and Hatchet Inn is right next door to the Hucking Estate: It serves delicious home made food, a wide range of ales, lagers and wines as well as non-alcoholic drinks, and has the only toilet facilities for miles! They also kindly allow visitors to the Hucking Estate to park in their car park, so why not pop in and say hello, sample their fare and pick up a leaflet showing some of the walks to be had on the Estate.

Open: MONDAY-THURSDAY 12-10 pm; FRIDAY & SATURDAY 11 am-11 pm; SUNDAY 11 am-9 pm

​Serving food:TUESDAY - SATURDAY 12-9 pm; SUNDAY and MONDAY 12-6 pm

Access/Walks

The blue waymarked trail starts from the Hook and Hatchet inn. The red route starts from the Woodland Trust car park. Download the Guide to Hucking Estate (PDF, 3MB) to see the full range of entrances.

Directions

By bus

The nearest bus stop is at Hollingbourne Church, approximately one and a half miles walk along road and footpaths to the closest entrance at Hucking. From Hollingbourne, the road climbs up a very steep hill onto the North Downs, but once at the top, the road to Hucking Estate is reasonably flat with some gentle inclines to negotiate. The walk will take approximately 35 minutes.

By train

The nearest train station is at Hollingsbourne,  approximately one and a half miles walk along road and footpaths to the nearest entrance to Hucking Estate. From Hollingbourne, the road climbs up a very steep hill onto the North Downs, but once at the top, the road to Hucking Estate is reasonably flat with some gentle inclines to negotiate. The walk will take approximately 35 minutes.

For further information on public transport, contract Traveline or call 0871 200 2233.

By car

From the M20, exit at Junction 8 and follow signs to Lenham and Leeds Castle. At the second roundabout take the road signed Hollingbourne. Pass through the village and continue up the hill. At the top of the hill, turn left and follow signs to Hucking. The Woodland Trust car park is on the left just before Hucking village and has room for 12 cars.

From Maidstone, head east on Ashford Road (A20) for three and a half miles, keeping left as you approach the roundabout used to enter the M20. At the next roundabout, take the first exit onto Eyhorne Street (road) and when you have passed through the villages of Eyhorne Street and Hollingbourne, head north-east on Hollingbourne Hill for one mile. Turn left at Ringlestone Road, then after three quarters of a mile turn left towards Church Road. Take the first left after half a mile and continue into Hucking. The Woodland Trust car park is on the left just before Hucking village and has room for 12 cars.

The car park is open 24 hours a day throughout the year, although there is a vehicle and height restriction barrier at the entrance. From here, access can be gained via a kissing gate, and an information board and a leaflet dispenser containing a site leaflet can be found.

The Hook and Hatchet Inn car park can be used by visitors to Hucking Estate and the entrance is adjacent to the public house on the right-hand side. 

The road network within the area to access the Hucking Estate is mostly single track and twisty narrow lanes not suitable for high volumes of traffic or for large vehicles or coaches.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.

More about Hucking Estate

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