Starting just an hour from the centre of London, this four-day hike explores the amazing and unexpected beauty of the rolling chalk hills south of the Capital. Explore secret valleys and rolling pastures; discover atmospheric traditional inns and rambling vineyards, walk through shady wooded glades and along lofty chalk ridges offering stunning views of London’s breathtakingly beautiful green belt.
Beyond the city limits, London’s leafy suburbs radiate for miles into England’s home counties, yet history is never far beneath the surface.
The path follows the an ancient pilgrimage route connecting the cathedral cities of Winchester and Canterbury, where Thomas Becket was murdered by Henry II’s knights within the cathedral precincts – elevating its status to one of the most important shrines in Christendom.
The route passes through picture postcard villages complete with historic churches and country inns, densely wooded hills, and chalk downland carpeted in drifts of beautiful wild flowers.
Make your own pilgrimage along the undulating ridge of the Hogsback as it winds eastwards through the Surrey Hills and out to the border with Kent.
Visit vineyards, distilleries, and breweries along the way and unearth a rich seam of literary connections from the brave new world of Aldous Huxley to the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie.
Follow ancient paths across greensand and chalk and marvel at the expansive views from the many viewpoints along the steep 200 meter slope this delightful route follows
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
History/Food and Drink
Rolling Countryside/Connecting Villages and Towns/ City
Here's everything you need to help you plan your very own walking adventure. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information.
Starting from the rail station at Farnham – just an hour from London – this four-day itinerary strikes out east through dense the woodlands of Surrey to Guildford before scaling the chalk ridge of the North Downs.
Passing though the huge vineyard at Denbies, it then scales iconic Box Hill and follows the lofty slope of the Downs to Merstham before continuing along the ridge to Oxted.
Accommodation options are many and varied to suit all budgets – from budget hostels and glamping to luxurious upmarket inns and hotels. As with many locations along the North Downs Way, excellent public transport connections make it easy to walk several sections of this itinerary from a single base, although many walkers prefer a linear route. Both options are equally feasible.
1hr drive from Gatwick/ Heathrow. Eurostar to London or Ashford International. Trains from central London and Ashford approx. 1hr. By Ferry to Dover or Portsmouth, then train. 1hr drive from Brighton area/ Central London. Train stations at Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Box Hill & Westhumble & Dorking. Local bus services.
This route is moderately demanding with some short steep climbs every day. The paths are generally well maintained and marked and you are never far from civilization or transport if you want to cut a section short.
Expect a wide choice of food and drink along the way, as this prosperous corner of the London commuter belt offers comprehensive hospitality options. You’ll walk through a number of vineyards which provide grapes for English wines with a growing worldwide reputation and will see Hop Vines and Oast Houses that nod towards this part of England’s deep historic roots with the beer brewing industry. You’re even encouraged to try the local ales by following The Ales of the Trail, hunting down local beers in the rustic country pubs as you walk.
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.
View information on the map by ticking the boxes in the Map Filter. Drag the map and use the zoom tool to navigate.
Added to your Itinerary Planner below
Get route gradient profileGenerate
Looking for something similar? Here are some ideas we think you'll love…