The North Downs Way is important for both the uniqueness and quality of the landscape as well as the wildlife that it supports.
Valued for their dramatic escarpments, secluded valleys and network of lanes, the North Downs are the backbone of the South East of England. For their protection they have been designated as 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) - The Surrey Hills and Kent Downs.
The chalk landscape of the Surrey Hills is capped with beech woods and some of the most important areas of box and yew in the country. This woodland is interspersed with surviving stretches of grassland, unimproved heath and showpiece villages.
Across into Kent, the Downs continue to be topped by pockets of woodland opening into lower rich grasslands. Criss-crossed by sunken, one track lanes and scattered villages, the Downs plummet to the sea at the magnificent white cliffs of Dover.
A journey along the North Downs Way will bring visitors in contact with a range of countryside and landscapes. This includes several important and rare habitats:
- Improved grassland found on the Downs, scarce in other areas, is home to a wealth of insect life.
- Chalk grassland is another rare habitat that flourishes on the Downs.
- The chalk downland supports a wealth of flora and fauna including a number of butterflies. The Adonis Blue and the Chalk-hill Blue are both completely dependent upon this habitat.
- The Downs have many large areas of semi-natural woodland that are home to numerous trees and flowers including the rare Lady Orchid unique to Kent.
We have recently produced a new leaflet highlighting the countryside opportunities offered jointly by the North Downs Way National Trail and the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). You can download a copy at the bottom of this page.