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

7 to 8 nights
76 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £980 per person

North Downs Way - West Section

The west section of the North Downs Way clambers through the chalk landscape of the Surrey Hills, where butterflies and wildflowers abound. Accessing the crest of the escarpment takes some stiff climbs – one so memorable that Jane Austen immortalised it with a depiction in Emma – but the views over the flourishing rural landscape below are always worth the extra effort.

The walk is broken up by visits to characterful towns teeming with literary links and historic architecture. Cobbled streets, a well-preserved castle, and the second-oldest cathedral in England give the holiday’s final stop in Rochester a notable wealth of things to see and do, well worth staying an extra night to explore.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
NDWW1 From Farnham to Rochester 7 nights, 6 days walking Moderate / Demanding £980
NDWW2 From Farnham to Rochester 8 nights, 7 days walking Moderate £1110

Short breaks

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

North Downs Way - West Section 7 nights, 6 days walking

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

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

Day 1

Farnham to Guildford(L). 11.5 miles (18.5km) / 843 ft (257 m) ascent

Day 2

Guildford(L) to Dorking. 14 miles (22km) / 1358 ft (414 m) ascent

Day 3

Dorking to Merstham/Reigate(L). 9.5 miles (15.5km) / 1604 ft (489 m) ascent

Day 4

Merstham/Reigate(L) to Oxted(L). 8.5 miles (13.5km) / 1086 ft (331 m) ascent

Day 5

Oxted(L) to Otford(L). 12 miles (19.5km) / 1050 ft (320 m) ascent

Day 6

Otford(L) to Rochester. 19.5 miles (31.5km) / 2100 ft (640 m) ascent


Depart from Rochester 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
© Contours Walking Holidays North Downs Way - West Section map
Farnham to Rochester
76 miles (121 km)
2nd January to 24th December

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.

What's included?

  • 7 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.

If you prefer somewhere a bit livelier, the bustling town of Guildford has plenty of amenities, including shops, bars and restaurants, yet there are still plenty of historic attractions that make for a fascinating visit. Attractions include a medieval undercroft on Guidford high street, the former courtroom of the Guildhall, Guildford Museum and the wonderful Guidlford Castle, where there are panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.

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.

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: 75.5 miles (120.5 km)
Duration: 7 nights, 6 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 8.5 miles (13.5 km)
Maximum daily distance: 19.5 miles (31.5 km)
Code: NDWW1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Farnham
End of holiday: Rochester

Route Profile

North Downs Way - West Section 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 (Rochester).

By Bus

Various bus services run to Farnham and from Rochester.

From London

Trains run from London Waterloo station to Farnham.

Return to Start

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