North Downs Way

A self-guided walking holiday through the rich landscape of the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs.
North Downs Way

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The North Downs is a long chalk ridge running through South East England from Farnham in Surrey to Dover on the Kent coast. The North Downs Way National Trail follows this natural line through some of the most historic and scenic countryside in southern England . It includes herb-rich chalk downland, sandy heath, large expanses of beech, oak and yew woodland, farmland, apple orchards, hop gardens and vineyards. Part of the trail follows the Pilgrims' Way, an ancient route taken by countless pilgrims on their way to pray at the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, immortalised in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales . Other sites of historical interest include Prehistoric long barrows, a Roman villa, eight castles, dozens of churches, three cathedrals, three palaces, manor houses, follies, a Napoleonic fort, oast houses, figures carved in the chalk slopes and World War II bunkers.

The route passes through many attractive settlements such as Otford, an attractive village containing the ruin of an archbishop's palace; historic Rochester, with its handsome High Street lined with old half-timbered buildings, magnificent cathedral and one of the best-preserved Norman castles in the country; the ancient walled city of Canterbury with Roman and early Christian ruins, a Norman castle and a glorious cathedral overlooking a warren of Tudor dwellings; and Dover, with its mighty medieval fortress, that contains the remains of a Roman lighthouse and a Saxon church. The North Downs Way also takes in a number of memorable viewpoints including Box Hill, Reigate Hill, the Devil's Kneading Trough and the lonely flint-walled church on top of St Martha's Hill.

Towards the end of the trail, at the village of Boughton Lees, the route divides. One branch heads for Dover via the historic city of Canterbury (130 miles, 208km); the other takes a more direct line via Folkestone and the celebrated 'White Cliffs' (123 miles, 197km).

We also offer the North Downs Way as a trail running holiday, for those eager to enjoy this trail at speed. Click here to find out more.

Holiday Highlights

  • Walking through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Discovering the historic streets of Rochester and Canterbury, with cathedrals, castles and churches to explore.
  • Admiring the superb views from Box Hill, Reigate Hill and the Devil’s Kneading Trough.

North Downs Way - via Folkestone

Farnham to Dover via the coastal town of Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover.
North Downs Way - via Folkestone

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Total Distance 123 miles (197 km)
Start and Finish Farnham to Dover (via Folkestone)
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The North Downs Way via Folkestone follows the North Downs Way National Trail from the market town of Farnham to the village of Boughton Lees, where the trail splits and continues on a direct route to Dover via the coastal town of Folkestone. The route via Folkestone is shorter than the Canterbury alternative and takes in a spectacular coastal section at the end of the walk.

After departing Boughton Lees, the Way via Folkestone heads towards the rural town of Wye. The trail then heads up to follow the path at a high level, taking in the landscape of Wye Crown and The Devil's Kneading Trough. After experiencing the rolling hills, valley and shady woodlands of this section of the escarpment, the trail reaches Etchinghill, at the foot of the beautiful Elham Valley.

Climbing steeply to the escarpment, there are wonderful views over Folkestone and towards the English Channel below and as you pass by the busy Channel Tunnel Terminal, the trail takes in views of Folkestone's Millennium White Horse.

Leaving the Channel Tunnel behind, the trail approaches Dover Hill, where there are views back towards Folkestone and as you continue along the trail, of the stunning White Cliffs of Dover. Staying in the company of this breath taking coastline, the trail arrives at the port of Dover, where there is much to explore, including the winding tunnels of Dover Castle and the Roman Painted House, with its fine wall paintings and under floor heating. The North Downs Way via Folkestone is a superb way to experience the dramatic cliffs that make Dover so famous.

Holiday Highlights

  • Leaving the hustle and bustle of the Channel Tunnel Terminal and encountering the dramatic White Cliffs of Dover for the first time.
  • Admiring the beautiful hills and woodlands around the Elham Valley.
  • Standing on the Hoverport pier and gazing at the amazing White Cliffs of Dover.

Testimonials

"Yes, thoroughly varied and beautiful scenery. Even crossing Medway Bridge and the motorways was interesting. Excellent accommodation and organisation."
- Ms Rees. UK

North Downs Way scenery
North Downs Way signpost
White cliffs from Folkestone North Downs Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWF1 11 nights, 10 days walking £1030 per person More Information Book Online
NDWF2 12 nights, 11 days walking £1120 per person More Information Book Online
NDWF3 13 nights, 12 days walking £1210 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

North Downs Way - via Canterbury

Farnham to Dover via the culturally rich city of Canterbury.
North Downs Way - via Canterbury

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 130 miles (208 km)
Start and Finish Farnham to Dover (via Canterbury)
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The North Downs Way via Canterbury follows the chalk escarpment of the North Downs from the market town of Farnham to the village of Boughton Lees, where the trail splits. Following the Pilgrim's Way, the trail takes in a longer route than its Folkestone alternative, but visits wonderful, varied scenery and fascinating sites as it heads along a northern loop to Dover.

When the trail divides at Boughton Lees, the path adopts the Pilgrim's Way and climbs up onto Soakham Downs. Skirting Godmersham Park, a Mansion with connections to Jane Austen and Christopher Marlowe, the trail follows King's Wood to the pretty village of Chilham. Here, the medieval town-square, private Jacobean castle and beautiful grounds of Chilham Park are offset by the spectacular scenery of the Stour Valley.

Leaving Chilham, the trail visits numerous apple orchards, including 'No Man's Orchard,' which is owned by the communities of Chartham and Harbledown. From here, the trail then enters the magnificent cathedral city of Canterbury, where you may wish to visit the city's Norman Castle and Walls, St Augustine's Abbey or follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims and admire the stunning Canterbury Cathedral.

Crossing a series of rolling farmland, the trail passes Higham Park and Gardens before arriving in the little village of Shepherdswell. The last section of the trail then takes in woodland and follows the Roman road into Dover, where there is an impressive castle, Roman House and, of course, the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover.

Holiday Highlights

  • Following in the footsteps of Chaucer's pilgrims from the Canterbury Tales as you follow the Pilgrim's Way to Canterbury.
  • Admiring the expanse of 18th century parkland at Chilham Park.
  • Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Canterbury Christchurch Cathedral and Precinct, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church in Canterbury.

Testimonials

"We had a great hike, as in our previous trips with you it was well organized."
- Prof Bailie. USA

North Downs Way countryside
Canterbury Cathedral North Downs Way
White cliffs of Dover North Downs Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWC1 11 nights, 10 days walking £1035 per person More Information Book Online
NDWC2 12 nights, 11 days walking £1120 per person More Information Book Online
NDWC3 13 nights, 12 days walking £1210 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.
Don’t have the time for the complete walk?

We also offer The North Downs Way in three sections, each of which is an excellent walk in its own right, giving those with less time the opportunity to complete the trail in stages.

We also offer the North Downs Way Taster Break, a charming walk through the 'garden of England' which links the historic city of Canterbury with its glorious cathedral and the bustling port of Dover with its magnificent castle.


North Downs Way - West

Farnham to Rochester through the Surrey Hills
North Downs Way - West

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Total Distance 70 miles (112 km)
Start and Finish Farnham to Rochester
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The West section of the North Downs Way starts in the historic town of Farnham in the West and continues through the chalk landscape of the Surrey Hills to the delightful city of Rochester, in the heart of the 'Garden of England.'

The market town of Farnham is a wonderful old English town that showcases some of the most beautiful Georgian architecture in England. Aside from exploring its history in the local museum, the town's heritage is clear to see in the form of its 12th century Castle, Parish Church and the nearby Waverley Abbey.

On leaving Farnham, the trail passes the entrance to Moor Park House, once the home to Gulliver's Travels author, Jonathan Swift. It then sets out on a gentle path through woodland, rolling farmland, bridleways and crosses the River Wey before skirting the edge of Puttenham Common and arriving in Guildford, a lively town with a quaint mix of old and new. Here, you may wish to visit The Guildhall, with its iconic clock or Guildford Cathedral, where scenes from the horror film 'The Omen' were filmed.

On the route to Dorking, the trail climbs St Martha's Hill, where St Martha's Church rests at the top and overlooks beautiful scenery across the Downs. From here, the trail joins the chalk escarpment that makes up the North Downs Way and descends to Dorking, a market town associated with literary greats such as Charles Dickens and E M Forster.

The trail soon crosses the River Mole and climbs to Box Hill, a challenging ascent described by Jane Austen in Emma, before tackling the further rises of Juniper Hill, Colley Hill and Reigate Hill and arriving in the village of Merstham.

From Merstham, the tail skirts Quarry Hangers Nature Reserve, an area of chalk downland that attracts numerous species of plant and animal life, including orchids, butterflies and skylarks. The trail then passes Whitehill Tower and the Oxted Downs, another protected area of chalk grassland where there is an abundance of wildflowers. After stopping in the village of Oxted, the trail passes through woodland, fields and country lanes and crosses the River Darent as it arrives in Otford. Here, an intriguing duck pond that has been designated as a listed building, the world's largest scale model of the solar system and the ruins of the archbishop's palace, make this an interesting village to explore, before you proceed along chalk grasslands and arable land to Rochester.

The historic city of Rochester is a wonderful place from which to end your walk. From wandering the cobbled streets of Rochester, exploring Rochester Castle and admiring England's second oldest Cathedral to discovering the city's links to Charles Dickens, there is plenty to keep even the weariest of walkers interested in the city's wonderful history.

Holiday Highlights

  • Walking between the fascinating old town of Farnham and the historic city of Rochester and exploring their wonderful castles.
  • Crossing through the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Spotting the abundant plant and animal life as you walk through the chalk downlands.
Waverley Abbey North Downs Way
North Downs Dorking
North Downs Way St Martha's Hill
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWW1 7 nights, 6 days walking £665 per person More Information Book Online
NDWW2 8 nights, 7 days walking £755 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

North Downs Way - East Section via Folkestone

Rochester to Dover through the Kent Downs via coastal town of Folkestone and the White Cliffs of Dover.
North Downs Way - East Section via Folkestone

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 53 miles (85 km)
Start and Finish Rochester to Dover (via Folkestone)
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The East section of the North Downs Way starts in the fascinating city of Rochester and continues along the chalk escarpment of the North Downs, visiting the town of Folkestone on the way to Dover.

After leaving the Cathedral city of Rochester behind, the trail continues through a series of historically rich areas with Neolithic barrows and ancient woodland, before passing Thurnham Castle on the way to Hollingbourne.

With listed buildings and picturesque downland scenes, the trail encounters a series of chocolate box villages, including Charing and Chilham, before arriving in Boughton Lees, where the route divides.

Following the North Downs Way via Folkestone, the trail approaches Wye, before following a high level path that offers fantastic views of the valleys and hills and from the Devil's Kneading Trough.

With the English Channel stretching into the distance, the trail encounters Folkestone's Millennium White Horse, before approaching Dover Hill and catching the first glimpses of the White Cliffs of Dover. The east section of the North Downs Way via Folkestone captures some of the most memorable scenery and is a fantastic way to experience Dover in all its glory.

Holiday Highlights

  • Exploring the fascinating city of Rochester, with its cathedral, castle, church and links to Charles Dickens.
  • Experiencing the high level paths as you wander the landscape of Wye Crown and the Devil's Kneading Trough.
  • Admiring the magnificent chalk cliffs, better known as the White Cliffs of Dover.
North Downs Way Rochester
North Downs Way Hollingbourn
North Downs Way Castle at Dover
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWFE1 5 nights, 4 days walking £475 per person More Information Book Online
NDWFE2 6 nights, 5 days walking £565 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury

Rochester to Dover through the Kent Downs via the culturally rich city of Canterbury.
North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 60 miles (96 km)
Start and Finish Rochester to Dover (via Canterbury)
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The East section of the North Downs Way starts in the historic city of Rochester where it crosses the River Medway and continues along the Downs via Folkestone, before ending at the port of Dover. The trail takes in the chalk escarpments and interesting landscape of the Kent Downs and is a wonderful way to experience this classically English countryside.

Starting at the heart of Kent in the fascinating city of Rochester, the trail heads away from the Cathedral, castle and historic buildings that inspired Charles Dickens as he wrote Great Expectations and Pickwick Papers. Following the edge of Shoulder of Mutton Wood, a Woodland Trust area with a Bronze Age Barrow, the trail soon reaches Kit's Coty, a Neolithic Barrow on Bluebell Hill. The trail continues through wooded areas until it meets the escarpment again and passes the remains of Thurnham Castle, a motte and bailey fort with fantastic views over the surrounding Weald of Kent.

After a short descent through fields, the trail reaches Hollingbourne, a village with a collection of pretty listed buildings and surrounded by stunning Downland. From here, a peaceful walk framed by lush hedgerows and arable land sees the trail pass through lovely Downs villages such as Charing, Chilham and finally, Boughton Lees, where the route to Dover divides.

At Boughton Lees, the trail follows the Pilgrim's Way and visits Soakham Downs and Godmersham Park. Against a backdrop of thriving woodland and the wonderfully tendered landscape of Chilham Park, the trail then makes a push towards the glorious city of Canterbury. Here, the World Heritage Site of the city's Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church are a must visit as you follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims immortalised in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Finally, the trail crosses pretty woodlands, before reaching the busy port of Dover, where you may wish to visit the town's castle, museum and Roman house. The East section of the North Downs Way is a wonderful way to taste the culturally rich towns, villages and historic sites of Kent, in the 'Garden of England.'

Holiday Highlights

  • Walking through the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Visiting the numerous historical sites on the route, including Rochester Castle and Cathedral, the Neolithic Barrow of Kit's Coty, Thurnham Castle, Canterbury World Heritage Site and Dover's Roman Painted House.
  • Discovering the literary connections along the trail as you follow in the footsteps of Chaucer's Pilgrims on the way to Canterbury and visit the buildings of Dickens' Great Expectations.

Testimonials

"This was a beautiful walk through the Kent countryside. We stayed in excellent accommodation, where everyone was most welcoming and helpful. My Canadian wife feels that she got a real feel for the countryside which was gained because of walking through the area."
- Mr Sutcliffe. Canada

North Downs Way Rochester Castle
North Downs Way Bluebell Hill
Dover Castle North Downs Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWCE1 5 nights, 4 days walking £475 per person More Information Book Online
NDWCE2 6 nights, 5 days walking £565 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

North Downs Way Taster Break

Canterbury to Dover through the culturally rich landscape of Kent.
North Downs Way - Short Break

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Total Distance 18.5 miles (29.5 km)
Start and Finish Canterbury to Dover
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The North Downs Way Taster Break is an ideal way to experience the beautiful landscape of Kent, fondly known as the 'Garden of England.' Starting in the wonderful Cathedral City of Canterbury, the trail tastes the shady woodlands, rolling fields and historical sites as it makes its way to the busy port of Dover, famous for its stunning White Cliffs.

Canterbury is a city that is rich in culture and heritage. There is a wealth to see and do, from taking a boat along the River Stour, browsing through the charming shops and roaming around the ancient city walls, to visiting the World Heritage Site of St Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's Church and Canterbury Cathedral.

Leaving Canterbury, the trail crosses agricultural land and follows a Roman Road into the bustling port of Dover, where the North Downs drop into the sea at the famous White Cliffs. Overlooking the English Channel, Dover offers numerous points of interest, including the fortifications of Western Heights, Dover Castle and the Roman Painted House, with its fine examples of Roman murals.

Holiday Highlights

  • Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Canterbury.
  • Walking through the beautiful rural landscape of Kent in the 'Garden of England.'
  • Arriving at the port of Dover and admiring the views of the famous White Cliffs and the English Channel.
click on a photo to enlarge
Canterbury North Downs Way
North Downs Way White Cliffs
North Downs Way Dover Castle
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
NDWSB 3 nights, 2 days walking £290 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£55 per person / per night
£35 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

Ms Rees. UK.

Beautiful scenery and thoroughly varied we enjoyed it all. Excellent accommodation and organisation.

Mr Daleboudt. The Netherlands.

We have to compliment Contours, we were very late booking, and you did a great job in arranging our trip at this short notice.