West Malling lies on the A20 just a little way out of Maidstone on the road to Sevenoaks. Maybe not the first place that springs to mind when considering a day out, but for the geocacher the area cannot be bettered.
West Malling Town
As a start the cacher might begin in the town of West Malling itself. There is a rather unusual multi-cache (GCT5C4) with ten stages which leads the cacher round the town.
Alternatively if one wants a higher cache count for less effort one might consider the Malling Muckers Meander (GC3AZTK), an urban series of seven caches (six and a bonus) which leads the cacher around much the same area.
The cacher is advised to give a little thought to planning the route of the Malling Muckers Meander – the caches are not laid out numerically one following the next, and more than a little doubling back might happen when walking them.
There are a few caches in the area which can be done as “cache and dash” – the church micro in Offham is one such (GC18JR3), as is “Mr W’s 60th birthday cache” (GC30WFG) or “Kent Lost Pubs #12” (GC3HWVQ). There are some which make an ideal target for a stroll in the countryside such as the particularly scenic “Wring It Out”.
But in the West Malling area the watchword of geocaching is “rural series”. There are several to be done in the area. Some can be easily walked from West Malling, some might be a short car drive away.
The Ryarsh Rural Stroll
From West Malling one can follow the Ryarsh rural stroll. From the first cache (GC3F2VG) there is an easy to follow series of thirteen caches which will take a couple of hours to find. Some are rather easy; some more challenging. There is a church micro along the way (GC18GYK) which is possibly best done between caches six and seven, and there are a few other caches off at a tangent to the stroll (GC3CWG0) which lend themselves to being tackled between caches nine and ten.
There is also a pub between caches twelve and thirteen with an outside decked area where a spot of lunch can be enjoyed.
The Malling Rural Stroll
Only a short walk from West Malling is the start of the Malling Rural Stroll (GC3EC5B), a series of thirteen caches. There is a rather busy road between caches five and seven, but the countryside is pretty, and there are worse ways that the cacher might while away a couple of hours than by tackling these caches.
Judicious scrutiny of the geocaching maps will show that as the cacher goes along the Malling rural stroll there are (depending where you start the stroll) up to three other caches to be had along the way.
The Birling Loop
The village of Birling is only a few minutes away from West Malling by car. Parking up by the church one can soon find the nearby church micro (GC18GKM) and then the first cache of the Birling Loop (GC3CTTQ); twenty one caches (including a bonus) over four miles. Some of the area can be a little windswept, but there are some wonderful views to be had, and there is a welcoming pub at the end of the walk.
The more adventurous cacher might like to take five minutes out between caches seven and eight to attempt “Pilgrim’s Way Up the Third” (GC1G7TK), a D4/T5 rated geocache.
The Holly Hill Loop
The starting point for the Holly Hill Loop is only a few short minutes’ drive out of Birling. From the first cache (GC2AW7F) the cacher is led to over twenty caches on a pleasant stroll of just over three miles. Some are straight forward to find, others not so.
For the cacher with time on their hands there is an extension loop of eight further caches over a mile or so of ground between caches three and four, and also a church micro (GC3RVD7) to be found.
The Trottiscliffe Trail
Trottiscliffe (pronounced “Trosley”!) is not far at all from West Malling. Starting from the first cache (GC39EA0) the Trottisclliffe Trail will lead the cacher to some twenty seven caches along a route which shouldn’t take more than three hours to cover.
Between caches twenty and twenty one the more adventurous cacher might fancy their chances at another challenging cache “Pilgrim’s Way Up” (GC1BHYZ); this one rated D4/T4.5.
And there’s more…
These are only a few of the trails that are in the immediate location of West Malling. Others include the Mereworth Meander (GC47CQQ), the Snodland Circuit (GC3YA93) and The Malling Muckers Offham Meander (GC3F7BB)
As a rough rule of thumb each series will take a morning or an afternoon so doing two of these in a day should be quite possible. And three can be done if you get a move on…