North Downs Way National Trail

The North Downs Way follows the chalk downs and ridges across South-East England, famous for its scenic qualities and beautiful extensive views, from the Hog's Back in Surrey all the way to the white cliffs of Dover. It is a magnificently varied, and surprisingly tranquil, journey; through beech and oak woodland, across springy downland, rising to sweeping vistas from viewpoints like Newlands Corner, St Martha's Hill, Bluebell Hill and the Wye Downs.

In places the route follows the line of the ancient Pilgrim's Way, leading to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and along river valleys including the River Wey. In the protected landscape of the Surrey Hills there are pleasant shady sections wandering through beech, oak and ash woodland. It winds through and the Kent Downs passing medieval churches, castles, Neolithic burial sites, vineyards and numerous World War Two defences. The route also offers historic and literary interest in the course of its journey. The village of Chilham is especially pretty. At the eastern end you can either walk via Canterbury or follow the slightly shorter southern route.

The official guidebook divides the route into day walk stages as follows:
Farnham to Guildford 11 miles
Guildford to Westhumble 13 miles
Westhumble to Merstham 10 miles
Merstham to Oxted 8 miles
Oxted to Otford 11.8 miles
Otford to Cuxton 15 miles
Cuxton to Detling 12.5 miles
Detling to Lenham 9.3 miles
Lenham to Wye 11.1 miles
Wye to Etchinghill 11.2 miles
Etchinghill to Dover 12 miles

If you intend to follow the alternative Pilgrim’s Way Canterbury Loop you will need to divert at Broughton Lees, just before Wye. In this cae the daily distance between Lenham and Chilham is 14.8 miles.   The route is then as follows:

Boughton Lees to Chilham 5.9 miles
Chilham to Canterbury 7.2 miles
Canterbury to Shepherdswell 10.4 miles
Shepherdswell to Dover 8.5 miles

The official National Trail Guide contains a wealth of information to turn a scenic walk into a truly educative and enlightening experience. There are fascinating sections on the flora and fauna of the North Downs Way, and on the human history of the landscape, from the Battle of Britain to the Kent miners, as well as the ascents and descents, and the railway station links, for every section.





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Start: Farnham

Grid Ref: SU 838468

End: Dover

Grid Ref: TR 317417

Distance: 208 km

Walking Time: 10 days

Counties Traversed

Explorer™ Maps
146; 147; 148; 138

North Downs Way Official Guidebook

North Downs Way Cicerone

North Downs Way AZ Adventure Map

See our selection of Guidebooks for this NT