The North Downs Way runs between Farnham and Dover, tracing a high chalk ridge overlooking the Weald. En route, it passes through some of England’s most appealing scenes, a mix of rolling hills, oak, ash and beech woods, apple orchards, hop fields, heritage sites, holy places – and venerable Canterbury, a city that has attracted walkers for centuries.
Located in the far south-east, Canterbury is home to one of the country’s oldest cathedrals and the shrine of archbishop Thomas Beckett, murdered here in 1170 – pilgrims have flocked here ever since. Today, this lively university city boasts some of England’s finest medieval architecture, as well as wildlife-filled parks, fascinating museums and plenty of places to sample the excellent local produce – from fresh veg and real ales to Whitstable oysters. There are also, of course, lots of opportunities for exploring on foot, with trails leading around the walled city, along the riverbanks and out into the enticing Kentish countryside.
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Walks from 5km to 16km
Rolling Countryside / Connecting Villages & Towns / City Exploring
History / Food & Drink / Pilgrimage
Walking / Heritage
Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break in Canterbury and the North Downs. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.
This itinerary is being operated by Compass Holidays, who specialise in walking, cycling and activity short breaks and holidays in a variety of UK, European and worldwide destinations.
With more than 30 years’ experience, Compass Holidays allow you to get under the skin of the history, culture and natural beauty of some of the world’s most iconic and spectacular locations.
Compass will arrange your whole tour: you just need to arrange transport to your first location.
This self-guided short break, based in Canterbury, includes three circular walks, using sections of the North Downs Way and other paths to open up the region’s rich history, delightful countryside and delicious food and drink. The trip is very flexible: choose to stay for two, three or four nights; the itinerary below is a suggestion.
This short break is based in Canterbury, using either a three-star B&B, hotel or inn.
Canterbury has plenty of choice when it comes to eating out, offering everything from fine dining and gastro pubs to independent cafes and delis. Look out for Kent wines, craft beers and local-caught seafood – especially oysters from nearby Whitstable.
The grade of this tour is moderate, with rolling hills and some steeper sections.
There are a variety of places to visit along the route. We have picked out the highlights and can arrange entry/tickets for customers as required.
Canterbury West is a Grade II-listed railway station, on the Southeastern Rail line. There are regular services from London Charing Cross and London St Pancras International, with the journey taking around an hour. London Victoria and St Pancras International also run services to Canterbury East Railway Station.
The area is served by excellent roads. The M2 motorway provides fast, easy access.
The grade of this tour is moderate. It is available from April until October.
The correct clothes are important to ensure comfort during each walk. We suggest avoiding anything with seams and buttons in sensitive areas. Clothing should take moisture from the body to the outside. Sweatshirts, thin pullovers, and breathable jackets are ideal companions during the cooler days. Take light, waterproof jackets and trousers in case there is rain. On hot days we suggest a cap or hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun.
We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.
Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside
Click here to access the interactive map
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.