North Downs Way

North Downs Way

A self-guided walking holiday through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs, from Farnham to Dover.

3 to 14 nights
19-137 miles
Moderate to Demanding / Strenuous

From £415 per person

Find your holiday

About the trail

The North Downs Way National Trail follows the long chalk ridge of the North Downs through some of the most scenic and historic countryside in England. It crosses downland, sandy heath, deciduous woodland, green pastures, apple orchards and vineyards. A section of the trail even slips onto the Pilgrim’s Way, an ancient route followed by countless pilgrims on their way to pray at the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Walking the North Downs Way will bring you across plenty more historic sites, from prehistoric long barrows to a Napoleonic fort, with eight castles and three cathedrals in the mix. The local settlements, too, show their years: spot impressive Tudor carvings, half-timbered houses, and flint-walled churches as you make your way to the white cliffs and seaside views at Dover.

We offer multiple holiday options along this trail. If you wish to experience the entire trail, simply select the first option from the list below.

Choose your route

  • North Downs Way via Canterbury
  • North Downs Way via Folkestone
  • North Downs Way - West Section
  • North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury
  • North Downs Way - East Section via Folkestone
  • North Downs Short Break

About this route

5 to 7 nights
62 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £700 per person

North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury

Travel between listed buildings and chocolate box villages through picturesque downland scenery as you walk along the North Downs Way. The east section of the trail heads onto Pilgrim’s Way over the Soakham Downs to Canterbury.

Immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the city’s cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church form a World Heritage Site that will absorb you for hours. Beyond, the trail crosses ancient woodland to reach the busy port of Dover beneath the famous white cliffs.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
NDWCE1 From Rochester to Dover 5 nights, 4 days walking Moderate / Demanding £700
NDWCE2 From Rochester to Dover 6 nights, 5 days walking Moderate / Demanding £840
NDWCE3 From Rochester to Dover 7 nights, 6 days walking Moderate £975

Short breaks

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
NDWSB From Canterbury to Dover 3 nights, 2 days walking Moderate £415

North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury 5 nights, 4 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather
  • Holiday Highlights

Travel to Rochester where your first night's accommodation will be booked

Day 1

Rochester to Hollingbourne(T). 16 miles (26km) / 2001 ft (610 m) ascent

Day 2

Hollingbourne(T) to Boughton Lees(T). 16 miles (25.5km) / 827 ft (252 m) ascent

Day 3

Boughton Lees(T) to Canterbury. 14 miles (22km) / 1211 ft (369 m) ascent

Day 4

Canterbury to Dover. 19 miles (30km) / 1486 ft (453 m) ascent


Depart from Dover after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation in most cases; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard if practical. A very limited number of stops will require you to travel on foot up to two miles off the trail, however these instances will be clearly communicated to you if applicable.

Further transfers may also be required due to some accommodations having a two-night minimum booking policy, especially at weekends.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£75.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£55.00 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
© Contours Walking Holidays North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury map
Rochester to Dover (via Canterbury)
62 miles (99 km)
2nd January to 24th December

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.

What's included?

  • 5 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

An extra night can be the perfect way to extend your holiday, whether you spend it relaxing, exploring the sights and sounds of the area or simply soaking up the atmosphere in this historically rich region.

Rochester is a fantastic choice for an extra night. The town is home to England's second oldest cathedral and one of the best preserved examples of Norman architecture in England at Rochester Castle. For fans of literature, Restoration House and Gardens is a must, as it is said to have been the inspiration for Miss Havisham's Satis House in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

When walking the North Downs Way via Canterbury, there is only one choice for an extra night and this is the superb Cathedral city of Canterbury. With the magnificent cathedral dominating its skyline, Canterbury offers a wealth of other fascinating attractions, including the 1000 year old St Dunstan's Church; Grayfriar's Chapel, the only remaining Franciscan Friary; Canterbury Castle and The Canterbury Tales, which brings Geoffrey Chaucer's tales to life.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 62 miles (99 km)
Duration: 5 nights, 4 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 14 miles (22 km)
Maximum daily distance: 19 miles (30 km)
Code: NDWCE1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Rochester
End of holiday: Dover

Route Profile

North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air

The most convenient major city and international airports are London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

By Rail

There is a rail station at the start of the trail (Rochester) and also at the end of the trail (Dover Priory).

By Bus

Various bus services run to Rochester and from Dover.

From London

Trains run from London St Pancras International, London Cannon Street and London Bridge stations to Rochester.

Return to Start

The easiest way to return to the start of the trail, is to catch a train from Dover Priory station to Rochester.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.

Customer reviews from the North Downs Way - East Section via Canterbury

“It was perfect - corresponding to the advertisement!”
Mrs Schneider, Switzerland
“Spectacular scenery. Great weather. Well organised, bags delivered as promised. Very happy with Contours management and efficiency.”
Mrs Apperley, New Zealand
“Enjoyed the holiday very much.”
Mr Hilmarsson, Iceland
“We felt cared for at each of the accommodations. The guidebook and maps were very helpful, the trail was usually well marked, and we never got lost.”
Mr Hard, USA
“Accommodations were very good, quite satisfactory. All the innkeepers were friendly and helpful.”
Mr Wolf, USA
Find your holiday