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

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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

Trail running tours available

We also organise trail running holidays along this route. Find out more.

About this route

8 to 14 nights
137 miles
Moderate to Demanding / Strenuous
2nd January to 24th December

From £1120 per person

North Downs Way via Canterbury

Wander between blossoming apple orchards and through green expanses of farmland as you finish your walk via Canterbury. This longer, inland end to the North Downs Way curves northward at Broughton Lees to explore lush scenery that’s rich in history.

From the elegant gardens of expansive stately homes at Gomersham Park and Chilham Park, to the stout castles at Canterbury and Dover, there’s a wealth of places to visit – crowned by Canterbury Cathedral itself.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
NDWC0 From Farnham to Dover 8 nights, 7 days walking Demanding / Strenuous £1120
NDWC1 From Farnham to Dover 11 nights, 10 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1535
NDWC2 From Farnham to Dover 12 nights, 11 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1675
NDWC3 From Farnham to Dover 13 nights, 12 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1810
NDWC4 From Farnham to Dover 14 nights, 13 days walking Moderate £1950

Short breaks

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

North Downs Way via Canterbury 8 nights, 7 days walking

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

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

Day 1

Farnham to Newlands Corner(T). 15.5 miles (25km) / 1532 ft (467 m) ascent

Day 2

Newlands Corner(T) to Merstham/Reigate(L). 20 miles (32km) / 2264 ft (690 m) ascent

Day 3

Merstham/Reigate(L) to Otford(L). 20.5 miles (33km) / 2083 ft (635 m) ascent

Day 4

Otford(L) to Rochester. 19.5 miles (31km) / 2103 ft (641 m) ascent

Day 5

Rochester to Lenham(L). 21.5 miles (34.5km) / 2349 ft (716 m) ascent

Day 6

Lenham(L) to Canterbury. 21.5 miles (34.5km) / 1660 ft (506 m) ascent

Day 7

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

Finish

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
Extra night (Farnham)
£85.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Merstham/Reigate(L))
£75.00 per person / per night
Standard
Interactive
© Contours Walking Holidays North Downs Way via Canterbury map
Farnham to Dover (via Canterbury)
137 miles (220 km)
2nd January to 24th December

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.

What's included?

  • 8 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

The ancient settlement of Farnham is a good choice if you wish to spend an extra night getting to know the area at the start of your holiday. Bordering the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are plenty of options for exploring the area on foot, while the town centre is home to a range of fine historic buildings and is overlooked by the magnificent Norman Castle and keep. A heritage trail around the town can be completed in around two hours. On the outskirts of Farnham are the ruins of Waverley Abbey while the grounds of Farnham Park, a variety of gardens, potteries and galleries, cry out for exploration.

Rochester is also 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.

The superb Cathedral city of Canterbury is another good choice. 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
Extra night (Farnham)
£85.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Merstham/Reigate(L))
£75.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 137 miles (219.5 km)
Duration: 8 nights, 7 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 15.5 miles (25 km)
Maximum daily distance: 21.5 miles (34.5 km)
Code: NDWC0 Grade: Demanding / Strenuous
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Farnham
End of holiday: Dover

Route Profile

North Downs Way 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 Heathrow and London Gatwick.

By Rail - There is a rail station at the start of the trail (Farnham) and also at the end of the trail (Dover Priory).

By Bus - Various bus services run to Farnham and from Dover Priory.

From London - Trains run from London Waterloo station to Farnham.

Return To The Start - The easiest way to return to the start of the trail, is to catch a train from Dover Priory to Farnham.

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.
"Ambiguous Sign" by Jane Wilde (2021) "Ambiguous Sign" by Jane Wilde (2021)
"Ramparts of Dover Castle" by Jane Wilde (2021) "Ramparts of Dover Castle" by Jane Wilde (2021)
"Horses leaving Shepherdswell" by Jane Wilde (2021) "Horses leaving Shepherdswell" by Jane Wilde (2021)
"View from Dover Castle" by Jane Wilde (2021) "View from Dover Castle" by Jane Wilde (2021)
"Poppies in Shepherdswell" by Jane Wilde (2021) "Poppies in Shepherdswell" by Jane Wilde (2021)

Customer reviews from the North Downs Way via Canterbury

“The holiday was very enjoyable - the locations were generally good and the distances about right.”
Mr O’Hehir, UK
“It was surprising, and full of contrast and interest. We found the contrasts exhilarating. The logistics and support were excellent. Our favourite part of the route was watching planes at Gatwick from Leith Hill with a nightingale singing from the woods behind us; Crossing the Medway Bridge to Rochester; any of the downland scarp edges, and the holloways in the Surrey woods.”
Rev Whittington, UK
“Walking so close to London was very interesting. We especially enjoyed crossing the Medway River south of Rochester along with the M2 and the Eurostar train.”
Ms Schoenberg, USA
“The North Downs Way is a lovely walk through English countryside.”
Mrs VanDraanen, USA
“Holiday full with sun and beautiful landscapes.”
Mr Ischer, Switzerland
“We realised the North Downs Way is one of the least challenging and scenic National Trails, but it was an enjoyable walk and no problems with the route or distance.”
Mrs Oldham, UK
“A lovely walk with excellent accommodation.”
Mr Parish, UK
“Thank you for making the arrangements for our walking holiday. The room bookings and luggage and taxi transfers all worked well. When we had minor issues… you were happy to help and I felt that if there has been a more pressing matter you would have sorted it out.”
Mrs Taylor, UK
“We love walking. We love walking in England. In general, we've been pleased with Contours and appreciate everything that's done for walkers.”
Mr Oberwetter, USA
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