Section 1 : Farnham to Guildford
From breakfast at Farnham to tea at Guildford, enjoy this peaceful linear walk along the first section of the North Downs Way with rural views and chances for exploration.
A relatively easy introduction to the National Trail with no major hills, it is a long route at 17.5km setting off from the hustle and bustle of Farnham and slips into the tranquillity of the Surrey countryside.
Much of this section is flanked by stretches of arable land and livestock. Pass through Puttenham with pubs to choose from, or stop at Watts Gallery tearoom at Compton. You can take a minor detour up to the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for sweeping views, or press on to Guildford town centre to relax after your adventure.
Allow 6 hours plus travel.
Section 2 : Guildford to Dorking
This is the longest stretch of the North Downs Way across the Surrey Hills AONB, with a walk of gentle climbs, rolling vineyards and sweeping views.
There are village walks and gentle climbs along the chalk ridge above the Tillingbourne Valley, with bigger clambers up to the secluded beauty of St Martha’s Church and Newlands Corner that are well worth it for the view.
The route then winds through quiet countryside and woodland before reaching Dorking and the prospect of refreshment at nearby Denbies Vineyard.
It’s a long trek at 20km, but one with many rewards.
Section 3 : Dorking to Merstham
Enjoy a 15km hike across the Surrey Hills with unbeatable views and staggering sights.
Start by hopping across the Stepping Stones at the River Mole and then tackle the famous climb at the Box Hill steps before heading out on a trek that’s rich in history.
From industrial archaeology to military and social sites of significance, there are plenty of great spots to explore or rest with a picnic. There are a few climbs that are worth tackling, such as up to the top of Colley Hill and Reigate Hill, and the views are consistently stunning.
Allow 5 hours
Section 4 : Merstham to Oxted
The shortest linear route on the Surrey Hills section of the North Downs Way at 13.6km, it’s one for climbers!
There are several hikes up and down the North Downs ridge, but you can guarantee great views over the area of outstanding natural beauty all the way to London.
Starting at Merstham, you’ll cover old mining terrain and quarries, as well as the ancient churchyard of St Katherine’s. The Caterham Viewpoint is a popular picnic spot, or veer off route to enjoy a pub lunch at the end of your adventure.
Allow 4.5 hours
Section 5: Oxted to Otford
Steep climbs greet you along this stretch of the trail, bringing with them the relief of views across the countryside and down towards the Pilgrims Way.
Look out for the Meridian Plaque near the start of the trail, a marker of the millennium and the cross of the Greenwich Meridian by the North Downs Way and the Vanguard Way.
This section brings you into Kent, passing the first North Downs Way ‘milestone’. From here, the route travels on through the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Charles Darwin’s Down House lies along the North Downs, and it was here that he made observations of fauna and flora, having already made his famous trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Section 6 : Otford to Cuxton
Ramble high up on the North Downs on this epic adventure from Otford to Cuxton.
It’s a big route at just under 24km, but with plenty of beautiful sights to reward you. Start in the picturesque village of Otford, and you will soon climb high up onto Otford Mount, one of the highest hills on the North Downs Way.
Continue into Kemsing Down Nature Reserve with an array of flora and butterflies in spring and summer.
Wind past the ancient village of Wrotham, through Trosley Country Park and - if walking in spring - enjoy carpets of bluebells in the beautiful surroundings. Plenty of cafes and pubs on the way to help keep you refreshed!
Allow 6 hours
Section 7 : Cuxton to Detling
Walk through nature reserves, enjoy one of the finest views in Kent and visit a neolithic megalith older than Stonehenge!
Starting from the village of Cuxton, you will ramble through Ranscombe Nature Reserve and over the River Medway bridge with aerial views over the banks of the river.
You will soon find yourself walking in tranquil countryside with stretching views and to the stunning Bluebell Hill viewpoint, one of Kent’s finest vistas. This is a perfect picnic lunch spot to take in the views!
The impressive Kits Coty is an early neolithic megalith older than Stonehenge and is a great place to pause before you head into the village of Detling.
Allow 5 hours
Section 8 : Detling to Lenham
Stroll in the footsteps of the pilgrims passed ancient ruins and lush woodland.
Start your 14.8km walk from the picturesque village of Detling before passing an elegant Tudor gateway and joining The Pilgrims Way
A climb up a steep hill onto the chalk ridge takes you to White Horse Wood Country Park and the ruins of Thurnham Castle, before heading into ancient woodland with wonderful panoramic views.
You’ll explore the Hucking Estate, protected by The Woodland Trust, and finish your walk close to the charming village of Lenham for a celebratory cup of tea!
Allow 4 hours
Section 9 : Lenham to Wye
Walk high above the Kent Weald, weave through stunning vineyards and pass through the finest fruit farms and farm shops the county has to offer
This wonderful 14.9km walk starts on the outskirts of Lenham, best known for being the main source of the River Stour. You’ll pass the Lenham Memorial Cross dedicated to the lives lost in the First and Second World War.
Your walk continues high above The Weald, along both the North Downs Way and the Pilgrims Way. Look out for the vineyards of Westwell Vineyard before making your way into idyllic Wye village, with riverside pubs and picturesque cafes and independent shops to enjoy.
Allow 4 hours
Section 10 : Wye to Chilham
This short walk takes you from one chocolate-box village to another via the incredible sights of The King's Wood.
This 11km walk begins at Wye and treks through beautiful farmland towards Perry Court Farm where you can delicious apple juice and buy a picnic lunch for your journey.
Passing the historic All Saints Church in Boughton Aluph, you will then head into the immense Kings Wood, a 1500 acres site that is dotted with incredible art sculptures, pine-scented trails and is one of the best bluebell spots in the county!
Your walk finishes in the medieval village square of Chilham, flanked by Chilham Castle, a tearoom, a pub, a church and half timbered buildings.
Allow 3 hours
Section 11 : Chilham to Canterbury
Walk the hallowed route taken by pilgrims for centuries, from the picturesque village of Chilham to Canterbury Cathedral.
This 11.5km route allows you to explore the heritage of beautiful Chilham before winding through pretty woodland and farms into No Man’s Orchard, a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
You will pass through an Iron Age Hillfort dating back to 54BC, before arriving into historic Canterbury to finish your walk through Westgate Towers and arriving at the epic Canterbury Cathedral. Add a tour around the World Heritage Site to complete the perfect day of exploring!
Allow 3 hours
Section 12 : Canterbury to Shepherdswell
Head out on the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Shepherdswell on this 17km linear walk.
Walk in the footsteps of pilgrims, as you pass the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and slip into fields with the spires of the cathedral behind you.
Pass through the pretty villages of Patrixbourne and Womenswold with their ancient churches and tea rooms for refreshment, before heading into the village of Shepherdswell where you can pause for a scenic ride on the East Kent Railway.
Allow 4 hours
Section 13 : Shepherdswell to Dover
Journey along the North Downs Way chalk ridge and ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage from Shepherdswell to Dover
Starting in the quiet village of Shepherdswell, this 14.8km walk follows the North Downs Way and Via Francigena winding through the picturesque Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Explore St. Andrews Church in Shepherdwell, St. Pancras Church in Coldred and All Saints Church in Waldershare. On your route you will pass Waldershare House, a grand Grade 2 listed mansion completed in 1712, before heading through fields and farmland and even along a Roman road into Dover, where your finish line awaits on Dover Esplanade.
Section 14 : Wye to Folkestone
An alternative route to Dover from Wye, this 24.5km walk will wind through nature reserves, golden farmland and ends with incredible coastal views.
Start your ramble in the picturesque village of Wye, with a steep climb up to a panoramic viewpoint and Wye Crown Memorial. You’ll then reach the Devil’s Kneading Trough in the Wye National Nature Reserve, home to 20 orchid species.
Take in the view at Farthing Common Viewpoint and cross the former Roman Road of Stone Street as you head towards the hills above Folkestone with far reaching views.
Reflect on the distance you have travelled and celebrate by walking in to the coastal town and down to the Folkestone Harbour Arm for fish and chips!
Section 15 : Folkestone to Dover
Prepare yourself for an epic cliff top adventure on the final stretch of the epic North Downs Way
Admire aerial views over Folkestone, Dover and exquisite nature reserves as you venture along the trail.
Take some time at the moving Battle of Britain Memorial, and immerse yourself in your surroundings at the Abbotts Cliff Sound Mirror. You will be rewarded with views over Samphire Hoe Nature Reserve, created with chalk excavated during construction of the Channel Tunnel and is now home to 200 species of plants and wildflowers, and 220 species of birds.
The lofty Shakespeare Cliff is an incredible spot to reflect before you take your final steps in to Dover and complete the North Downs Way!