North Downs Way 40th Anniversary Celebration Walks Programme

1st March 2018

40th Anniversary Lead Walk Partners

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the formal opening of the North Downs Way National Trail we have recruited a stellar programme of lead walks. As snow settles on the North Downs may now is the perfect time to turn our thoughts to the Spring when the bluebells and daffodils will be in full bloom. In advance of the full walk programme being made available we’re very happy to announce a days “Pre Pilgrimage” hosted by the British Pilgrimage Trust. A gentle 6 miles in and around Winchester where Pilgrims would gather to start on the journey to the shrine of Thomas a Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral.

A gentle introduction to the ‘day-before-you-go’ traditions of pilgrimage in Winchester – including hidden holy wells, the wayfarers’ dole, walking an ancient labyrinth, beautiful water-meadows and a mighty river, a wooded hillfort, the site where King Alfred the Great was buried, many small but distinct ancient Churches, and of course Winchester Cathedral itself.

For full details and bookings click here a completely unique opportunity to learn more about the ancient practice of Pilgrimage and some of the key locations around Winchester.

With a further 14 walks planned throughout the spring and early summer here are some of the people and organisations we’ve teamed up with. Full details and bookings to follow shortly.

British Pilgrimage Trust-  Founders of 'The British Pilgrimage Trust', Dr. Guy Hayward and William Parsons offer a new vision for British Pilgrimage. Their 'Bring Your Own Beliefs' policy promotes pilgrimage as an open tradition, a form of "indigenous British yoga" that works with or without religion. They share this vision of British Pilgrimage on National Television, Radio and News. They also guide groups of pilgrims, primarily along 'The Old Way', a pilgrimage route to Canterbury they recently discovered on Britain's oldest road-map. Check out  for more details.

Surrey Hills Society - Christine Howard. Chris is Chair of both Surrey Hills Society and Visit Surrey and has led many walks along the NDW in Surrey and collaborated with us on the recent Farnham & Guildford Walk Fests. Chris is Chairman of Guildford Walkfest. Chris is also in full-time employment!

Discover Guildford - Pete Lambert. Pete has developed a series of walks in and around the Guildford area specifically targeting younger walkers and also works with Guildford Borough Council leading free lunch hour walks to promote public health. This with his job as the Senior Ranger for Experience Guildford gives him an extensive knowledge of the town and surrounding area. Pete has joined us on a number of walks on the NDW and in his spare time he likes to challenge himself to long distance walks around the UK and Europe. Pete & Chris collaborate regularly in support of each other’s activity.

Walk AWhile- Walk Awhile is a local walking tour operator based near Canterbury. It has been organising guided and self-led rambling tours across Kent and along the length of the North Downs Way since 2001. Walk Awhile offers in-depth local knowledge in combination with friendly guide and tracker support. Company director, Derek Bright has written extensively on the history of the North Downs. His book; ‘The Pilgrims Way’- Fact and Fiction of an Ancient Trackway’, was first published in 2011.

Rick Bayne, Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme- Rick has managed two major landscape projects in the Kent Downs in the last ten year. The latest based in the Darent Valley aims to restore the emotional connection with a beautiful valley, using Samuel Palmers art as its inspiration. Join Rick to learn more about the how the landscape has evolved, the conservation work planned and how it inspired Samuel Palmer.

Up on the Downs Landscape Management Scheme - Richard Haynes. Richard has been leading guided walks in the Dover and Shepway districts for over 10 years. His walks typically focus on the landscape, wildlife history and lore of the local area and take in local hostelries where possible. Richard has been involved in the organisation of the Up on the Downs Big Summer Festival for the last three years, and regularly contributes walks to the White Cliffs Walking Festival and White Cliffs Countryside Partnership.

Julia Peters - Via Francigena in Kent- Julia is an Anglo-American currently living in Canterbury, Kent.  Although always been an avid walker, Julia only undertook her first long-distance walk in August, 2013 traveling over the Pyrenees from France and across Northern Spain along the Way of Saint James to Santiago de Compostela.  Over 25 days and 875 kilometres Julia came to understand why so many are drawn to long-distance walking and in particular, the pilgrimage route to Santiago.  Walking this distance can seem to many an impossible feat, yet what Julia saw on the Camino proved that this is not an activity reserved for the super-fit. Each day pilgrims and walkers of every age, size, and level of fitness arrive in Santiago. Julia continues to lead walks along the Via Francignena route in Kent in collaboration with Jo Tinkler, The Diocese of Canterbury and the North Downs Way. Julia attended the Romanian study visit as part of the Green Pilgrimage project. Read more about Julia here:

Jo Tinkler - Authorised Lay Minister Bewsborough Parish. Jo is administrator of the 5 Churches of Bewsborough Parish on, or near the North Downs Way between Dover and Canterbury. Jo has taken the lead on developing a series of circular walks which we hope to publish in 2018 to allow people to explore the NDW and wider landscape along with the historic churches, villages and country pubs in this area. Jo has kindly arranged for us to use her churches along the route to stop for refreshments & use the loo and even to sleep over on a 2 day walk Julia lead from Canterbury to Dover.

Andrew Kelly – founder of the Augustine Camino. The Augustine Camino is a new pilgrimage route linking Rochester and Canterbury Cathedrals with Augustus

Pugin’s Shrine to St Augustine in Ramsgate.  It is a celebration of our Christian Heritage which, along with walking and talking allows time for prayer. People of all faiths and none are warmly welcomed. Andrew has been walking long distance routes since the 1980s, including the Coast to Coast, Dales Way and West Highland Way.


Jon Shelton, Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership- Jon has been working in the Stour Valley for over 25 years as the Manager of The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership. Walks in the countryside has always been his passion. The Partnership is one of 8 covering Kent, playing a vital role in the conservation of the Kent countryside and coast through engaging with local communities. For further information about activities and volunteering visit their website


We are also very grateful for the Support of the Guildford Walkfest, Farnham Walking Festival and Mole Valley Ramblers Spring Walking Festival


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