Note (13/06/2012): This page is retained for reference only as it explains and introduces the strategy for the Trail which ran from 2006-2011. The North Downs Way National Trail Strategy (2012 onwards) is currently being developed.
The North Downs Way National Trail , the premier long distance route in the South East running the full length of the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) , has just taken an important step to ensure that it continues to provide an inspirational journey.
The North Downs Way is one of 14 National Trails throughout England and Wales designated because they provide a unique network of Trails for walkers, cyclists and horseriders amongst some of the best scenery in the country. It runs for 153 miles from Farnham in West Surrey to Dover on the Kent coast with a loop via Canterbury.
Variety and Stunning Views
Despite the proximity to London and the motorway system, the Trail passes through peaceful countryside with increasingly rare areas of chalk grassland interspersed with orchards, heathland and pockets of box and yew woodland. The Trail also keeps to the high ground wherever possible, rewarding the user with a wonderfully uplifting journey and stunning views southwards for much of the way.
Circular walks using the Trail
For those who find 153 miles daunting, the North Downs Way is not just the domain of the long distance user. The North Downs Way can also be completed as a series of shorter walks taking full advantage of the excellent public transport connections along the way. There are also several short circular walks available which make the most of the more scenic sections of the Trail. Cyclists and horseriders can also create their own circular routes using appropriate parts of the North Downs Way.
Importance to the local economy
The North Downs Way as well as being a high class recreation route, is important to the livelihoods of communities through which it passes. A visitor survey of 2004 indicated that over 300,000 people use the Trail annually and it that it contributes nearly £2m to the local economy.
New Strategy 2006 – 2011
To ensure that this unique North Downs Way experience can continue to be enjoyed by Trail users in years to come, an important document has just been published. Called The North Downs Way Strategy 2006 – 2011, it sets out the plan for the development of the Trail over the next 5 years.
It has been produced by the Management Team of the North Downs Way in conjunction with key partners - the Countryside Agency, Kent and Surrey County Councils and Kent Downs and Surrey Hills AONBs. Consultation also took place with County Councillors, Parish Councils, tourism agencies, service providers and volunteer wardens.
The Strategy aims to build on the good work that has been carried out over the last 5 years and has the following overall aim :-.
The North Downs Way will be maintained to a standard that is consistent and sympathetic to the landscape through which it passes, which meets the need of the users and which is appropriate to their use. The North Downs Way has its own character and should reflect the distinctive scenery through which it passes.
The Strategy is based on a series of ‘aspirational’ goals that have been set by the Countryside Agency for all the National Trails namely :-
To provide a path through the finest landscapes which is easily passable for as many people as practicable, which is safe and maintained sympathetically to its terrain and surroundings and appropriate for its use.
To ensure that the area through which the National Trail passes is of the highest quality, with land adjacent to the trail managed for full benefit of the landscape and its habitats and heritage features and where inappropriate development is kept to a minimum.
To ensure that Trail furniture (stiles, gates and steps) is of the highest quality meeting British Standards and that users have a safe enjoyable experience that reflects the landscape in which they are travelling.
To ensure that people using the National Trail have access to published information and relevant services ( accommodation, pubs, cafes and shops ) which complement their enjoyment of the Trail.
To ensure that the path is easy to follow with unobtrusive but clear signing.
Progress towards achieving these goals will be monitored annually throughout the lifetime of the Strategy.
A copy of the full 5 year Strategy is available to download below.
For a written copy of the Strategy please telephone the Trail Office on 01622 221525 email firstname.lastname@example.org