North Downs Way
Trace ancient routes on a modern-day pilgrimage through Surrey to the Kent Coast at Dover, along one of England's most accessible trails
Welcome to the North Downs Way home page where you’ll find an introduction to the trail. You can access the trail’s main pages using the links above. Here you’ll find links to the Information & Map page, Trail Holidays page and the Add your information page.
If you’re thinking about planning a visit to the trail, please view the Interactive Map on the Trail Information & Map page. The map allows you to view the line of the trail alongside accommodation, things to do, services such as food and drink, transport, water points and more.
You can also find additional North Downs Way pages by going to ‘The Trails’ dropdown menu at the top of the page, clicking on the trail name and browsing the pages in the Further Information column. Here you can access pages such as the trail’s Route Description page, Leaflets page, Circular and Linear Walks page and Events.
Find useful facts and learn more about the North Downs Way National Trail. Select the blue tabs below for more details.
Cutting across the South East of England, the North Downs Way National Trail offers walkers 153 miles (246 km) of spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious countryside, easily accessible from London.
Running from Farnham in Surrey to Canterbury and the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent, the Trail passes through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs. The trail also weaves along the famous Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury, so you can walk in the footsteps of 1000s of pilgrims from around the world.
You’ll discover history every step of the way: there are eight castles, three cathedrals, three archbishops’ palaces and numerous stately homes and gardens close to the Trail. After a day of exploring, you can sample English ales flavoured with Kentish hops at traditional English country pubs and inns, or try award-winning wines from one of the many English vineyards that dot the countryside.
Our trail has undergone enhancement works in the past year to make it more accessible for exploring on two wheels, or even on horseback by using the Riders’ Route.
It’s time to explore the The Great ARTDOORS! Did you know works of public art are dotted along the North Downs Way, including some brand new ones? Stretching from Surrey to Dover, the nine sustainably made sculptures allow walkers and riders to pause and soak up the scenery and local history.
The North Downs Way can be enjoyed at any time of the year, travelling West to East or vice versa. There are big hills and some steep climbs along the way, but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views across the High Weald, Kent Downs and Surrey Hills.
The North Downs Way National Trail is 153 miles of history, weaving through two areas of outstanding natural beauty, that is perfect for a family day out, a group hike, or a cycling challenge.
The trail passes fascinating Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts and WWII fortifications, the ancient city of Canterbury and historic seaside towns of Folkestone and Dover, and features two ancient pilgrimage routes…
The Pilgrims’ Way is an historic route from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170, and for more than 200 years his shrine at Canterbury became the most important in the whole of the UK. The route between the Port of Dover “the Gateway to England” and Canterbury retraces the steps of Archbishop Segeric who travelled this route in 990AD from Rome to Canterbury on what is now known as The Via Francigena, the UK’s only European Cultural Route.
The historic route is also rich in landscape, from the high chalk ridge of the North Downs, a rare grassland habitat for Orchids, bees and butterflies found only in Kent to the ancient woodlands of the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs which are carpeted with bluebells in early spring. The trail bursts out onto the White Cliffs at Folkestone with magnificent views across the English Channel and Dover Castle sitting above the historic Port.
With so much local history, culture and wonderful views to celebrate, the North Downs Way is fully rideable for cycling enthusiasts and is a source of inspiration for numerous artists. The brand new North Downs Way arts trail will launch in early 2023 with pieces installed across the 153 miles from Dover to Farnham. Find out more here.
Want to make the most of your visit to the North Downs Way National Trail? Our route is perfect for short and long breaks.
Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the North Downs Way.
When it comes to experiencing the best of the North Downs Way, our EXPERIENCE project will help you get there! We are working with the Kent Downs AONB and project partners across the UK and France to feature our favourite activities along the routes, create new itineraries and develop new experiences with nearby businesses.
Announcing the North Downs Way Riders’ Route! The trail is now explorable on two wheels or four legs, thanks to the creation of a new Riders’ Route itinerary. It’s easy to follow, family friendly and – above all – absolutely beautiful. There are challenging sections for those who like big hills, or you can break up the route into manageable chunks for a family day out or a short break. As we all look for more sustainable ways of travelling, cycling is a great way to discover new places. The North Downs Way Riders’ Route is ready when you are.
Love the Trail? Share your pictures and stories with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook! We’ve recruited new North Downs Way Ambassadors who will be organising walks, runs and rides in the coming months, keep an eye on our events page and social media channels for details
New Arts Trail! It’s time to explore the The Great ARTDOORS! Did you know works of public art are dotted along the North Downs Way, including some brand new ones? Stretching from Surrey to Dover, the nine sustainably made sculptures allow walkers and riders to pause and soak up the scenery and local history. about the North Downs Way Art Trail.
Visit our news page to find out more and for all the latest news on the North Downs Way National Trail.
Turn a walking weekend into a modern-day pilgrimage and visit some of England’s grandest castles, stately homes, churches, abbeys and its foremost cathedral at Canterbury...
View short walks and rides on the trail's interactive map or browse the list by clicking the button below.