North Downs Way National Trail
This popular path follows the crest of the North Downs ridge across Kent, with wonderful views of the Surrey Hills. Part of the route follows the old Pilgrim's Way, trod for hundreds of years by travelers from Winchester to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. If you really want to enhance your appreciation of the countryside and history of the region, why not brush up on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales? His pilgrims followed this same route some 600 years ago.
The path begins in the chalk hills of the Surrey Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The hills are topped by beech trees and open chalk grasslands. The Kent Downs AONB provide superb views over the open countryside split by sunken lanes and dotted with small villages.
The main path goes through Folkestone before ending near the famous White Cliffs at Dover, but there is an alternative loop through Canterbury. Sections of the path are open to horses and cyclists.
Although walking the entire path could easily take 10-12 days, the area is well served by public transport, and can be taken a bit at a time.
Merstham - the remains of the first public railway in Britain (1805)
St. Martin's church, Canterbury - the oldest UK church in continuous use (founded c. 560 AD).
Leeds Castle - fairy tale castle set in a lake.
Tanners Hatch, Holmbury St Mary, Kemsing, Rochester, Canterbury, Dover
Ordnance Survey maps covering the North Downs Way:
(Scale: 4cm = 1 km / 1: 25000) - best for walking
EX145 Guildford & Farnham
EX147 Sevenoaks & Tonbridge
EX148 Maidstone & Medway Towns
EX149 Sittingbourne & Faversham
(Scale: 2cm = 1km / 1: 50000)
LR177 EAST LONDON
LR178 THAMES ESTUARY, ROCHESTER & SOUTHEND ON SEA
LR179 CANTERBURY & E.KENT, DOVER & MARGATE
LR187 DORKING REIGATE & CRAWLEY
LR188 MAIDSTONE & THE WEALD
LR189 ASHFORD & ROMNEY MARSH
All OS maps are available at 10% off retail price, by special arrangement if you order through Britain Express. Both laminated and plain paper maps are available.
National Trail Guides: North Downs Way, by Neil Curtis, Aurum Press, £8.79
A Guide to the Pilgrims Way and North Downs Way, by CJ Wright, Constable, £10.95
The North Downs Way, a User's Guide, from Kent County Council £1 (see below)
Stillwell's National Trail Companion by Tim Stillwell and Dean Conway, Stillwell Publications, £7.96 - lists accommodation on and near national trails throughout the UK and Ireland
The Rambler's Yearbook and Accommodation Guide published by the Rambler's Association - lists accommodation and walking resources.
in addition to these printed materials, the North Downs Way promote a series of circular walks, details of which can be found at the National Trail website
North Downs Way Officer
Environment and Economy
2nd Floor Invicta House
Maidstone Kent ME14 1XX
Tel 01622 221525
Mobile 07740 185964