About the Trail
What is the North Downs Way?
The North Downs Way National Trail offers walkers 153 miles (246 km) of spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious rolling countryside, passing through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
You don’t have to walk the Trail in one go to enjoy the best it has to offer. There are a number of circular walks based on the Trail for everyone to enjoy.
How long does it take to complete the Trail?
You should aim to take twelve days to complete the Trail. This allows a comfortable 13 miles a day. The trail has steep ascents and descents in places, and more energetic climbs up Box and the Colley Hills in Surrey and those in the Mid Kent Downs.
How hard is it?
As with all National Trails there is a variety of terrain. Much of the Trail is along relatively level ground but remember the North Downs Way follows the scarp slope of the North Downs and does go up and down it a few times.
The section from Guildford to Reigate with St Marthas, Albury Down, White Down, Box Hill and Colley Hill is more challenging.
Whilst the route is well signed throughout, an up to date map or GPS mapping is essential.
Exploring the Trail
How do I get to the North Downs Way?
The start of the Trail at Farnham is easily accessible by public transport. There are direct train services between London Waterloo and Farnham. Farnham is also served by coach and local buses.
London Gatwick and Heathrow Airports are both within an hour’s drive of Farnham. From Heathrow take a rail-air coach link to Woking railway station where you can catch a direct train to Farnham. From Gatwick, take the Gatwick Express to London Victoria station and transfer to London Waterloo for rail services to Farnham.
From the end of the Trail at Dover there are regular train services from Dover Priory train station to London. National Express operates frequent coach travel between London and Dover. Local bus services visit surrounding towns and villages.
For detailed rail information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk
You can find up-to-date public transport information including a journey planner at www.traveline.info
Where can I stay on the Trail?
The Trail has an abundance of quaint and cozy country inns with rooms, pop-up campsites or more formal hotels and family run B&B’s. The North Downs Way offers a range of accommodation choices and is catered for by many accommodation types, from bunk barns at Puttenham and Thurnham to exclusive country manors such as at Eastwell Manor. We always suggest booking your accommodation in advance, especially during the summer months.
Can I camp along the Trail?
There are a few campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed here.
If you plan to camp please note it is not legal to wild camp in England or Wales – you will need to stay on official campsites.
However some farmers and owners of pubs may allow you to camp on their land if you obtain their permission first, check on Campspace. Camping barns also offer an alternative low cost option.
Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?
What is the best time of year to walk on the Trail?
The North Downs Way can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although some sections can become muddy in wet weather so dress appropriately.
Which direction should I walk it in?
Historically Pilgrims would walk from West to East, but visitors arriving on the East Kent coast from Europe may decide to walk in the opposite direction. The trail is signed in both directions so it’s up to you to decide which direction to explore the trail.
What should I take with me?
We recommend that you take a map and/or guidebook with you, or a copy of the walk leaflet if you are doing a shorter walk. You may also find a compass useful.
If you are walking solo you may want to tell someone where you are going as there can be mobile black spots along the Trail. Ensure your phone is fully charged before setting off.
Weather in the UK can be changeable so it’s wise to be prepared. You’ll need good footwear, waterproofs and warm layers. Take plenty of water and just in case, pack a few plasters for your feet. In the summer you may need sun cream.
Will I have mobile phone and internet access?
Mobile reception is fairly good near to main towns but the more rural patches do have black spots. We recommend using your provider’s online coverage checker before setting out if mobile reception is important to you.
Is there signage on the North Downs Way?
The UK is unique in having a network of paths that the public can use, this is the Public Rights of Way network. You can see these paths on Ordnance Survey maps.
National Trails are signed with an acorn symbol and/or the Trail name which you will see on stiles, gates and signposts. This is the symbol used by all the English and Welsh National Trails.
As you are walking along the Trail you will also see waymarkers pointing to other paths. You can use the public rights of way network to leave the Trail to explore places of interest, reach your accommodation and find places to eat and drink.
You will often find a coloured arrow on signs which indicates the status of that section of path. The most common are yellow arrows which are footpaths and blue which are bridleways.
Can I download a GPX file?
You can download a GPX file of the whole Trail here.
Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise
Can I get a guidebook and map for the Trail?
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.
Can I get a certificate if I complete the Trail?