Where can we stay?
There is a full accommodation listing on this site and there are some downloadable pdfs of the 2009 Accommodation Guide The Trail is catered for by a range of accommodation types from bunk barns at Puttenham and Thurnham to exclusive country manors such as at Eastwell Manor. It is always advisable to book your accommodation in advance especially during summer months. Should you need any help with advice do contact the Trail Office.
Who uses the Trail?
The Trail is predominantly the domain of the local user but the Visitor Survey of 2004 showed us that 10% of all users are walking the entire Trail – either at once or over a period of several months and in one case years! The route appeals to all ages and type. There are key family sites such as Box Hill and Trosley Country Park as well as environmentally important sites such as the National Nature Reserve at Wye Downs for the more nature orientated visitor. Short strolls or lengthy hikes can all be catered for along the route.
Who looks after the North Downs Way?
There is a dedicated team to look after the wellbeing of the North Downs Way, with the Public Rights of Way Teams in Kent and Surrey looking after the physical maintenance. The overall management of the North Downs Way National Trail is the responsibilty of Natural England - email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Trail is funded by Natural England and Kent and Surrey County Councils.
Which bit should I do if I only have a few days?
For a mix of walking and a cosmopolitan lifestyle base yourself in one of the larger towns. Canterbury, Guildford or Dorking are all well within striking distance of magnificent countryside and offer a vast array of accommodation and nightlife options. For a quieter break try the smaller places such as Wye in the Kent Downs or Shere in the Surrey Hills. If you want 2 or 3 days of good walking try the Canterbury Loop or the start of the Trail from Farnham through to Reigate.
Does the North Downs Way follow the Pilgrims Way?
In parts! The Pilgrims Way is the alleged route that Pilgrims took from Winchester to Canterbury to pay homage to Thomas Becket, who was murdered at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. The Pilgrims Way, seen on maps, was interpreted and defined in the Victorian era by the first Governor General of Ordnance Survey. In reality pilgrims would have followed a wide band if paths on the route between the two cathedral cities. Much of the Pilgrims Way has now been absorbed into the busy road network around the South East. We suggest that modern day pilgrims follow St Swithuns Way from Winchester to Farnham and the North Downs Way to Canterbury.
The distance from Farnham to Canterbury Cathedral along the North Downs Way is 112.5 miles.
Can we cycle the North Downs Way?
The North Downs Way is predominantly for walkers. However of the 153 miles (246 kilometres) 31 miles (50 kms) are public bridleway, 21 miles (33 kms) are Byway or Restricted Byway and 30 miles (48 kms) are metalled road. An alternative cycling route is being examined to take cyclists from Rochester to Canterbury and news of this will be posted on our news pages. The Surrey Cycleway (NCN 22) and Pilgrim's Cycleway (NCN 17) are good alternatives.
Isn’t the North Downs Way too close to Motorways?
It is true that some of the Trail passes close and even over some of the motorways and that noise levels can be intrusive. However it is not long before the user is back into countryside and the importance of having a long distance trail becomes apparent! In places the North Downs Way is only 20 miles from the centre of London.
How long does it take to walk the Trail?
You should aim to take twelve days to complete it this allows for some comfortable walking at around 13 miles a day. The trail does ascend and descend the scarp on several occasions and care should be taken not to over do it. There are some stages that can be tiring with the climbs up Box and Colley Hills in Surrey and those in the Mid Kent Downs needing to be written into the equation!
What is there to see?
The North Downs Way passes through a landscape of great variety. There are eight castles, three cathedrals, three archbishops’ palaces as well as numerous stately homes and gardens close to it. The trail follows part of the Pilgrims Way and there are many churches and links to pilgrims who would have travelled these parts in Medieval and more recent times. Along the Trail can also be found Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts, Medieval castles and WWII fortifications. The North Downs can be considered the ideal natural defence having protected London from invaders from across the Channel. The views from the scarp across the High Weald are spectacular, as is the countryside through which it passes.
Where are the best walks?
There are always good walks along the North Downs but depending on what interests you there are a variety of areas to walk in. For those seeking peace and natural surroundings there are the open spaces of the Kent Downs or the wooded beauty of White Down in the Surrey Hills. For mixing peaceful walks with heritage try Guildford and Dorking as well as Canterbury. A good dose of sea air can be had between Folkestone and Dover along Shakespeare Cliff. We have a range of circular walks listed on this website.
lso try a seasonal walk. During the Spring the bluebells cover acres of woodland in the Kent Downs and during the Autumn the colour change of the trees in the Surrey Hills is equally as spectacular.