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National Trail AcornNorth Downs Way National Trail

Kent, Surrey

201 km / 125 miles
The North Downs Way National Trail broadly follows the historic Pilgrims Way along the North Downs to Canterbury. The first 14 miles are over sandy countryside to the south of the Downs. The Downs are first reached at Newlands Corner, east of Guildford, and from there on the trail mainly follows the crest of the southern escarpment of the North Downs or footpaths and tracks along their lower slopes. There are views over the Weald to the South Downs and several steepish ascents where the ridge is cut by valleys, notably those of the Mole at Box Hill, the Darent at Otford, the Medway at Rochester, and the Stour near Wye.

Generally the route provides comparatively easy walking through woods, over chalk grassland and - especially in Kent - through orchards and farmland.

At Boughton Lees there is a choice of routes. The direct route goes through Wye, over the Downs to Folkestone and along the cliffs to Dover. The alternative route follows hills to the west of the river Stour and passes through orchards and the picturesque village of Chilham to Canterbury. From the cathedral city it heads south-east via Barham Downs, Shepherdswell and Waldershare Park to Dover. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church form a World Heritage Site.

The waymarked Thames Down Link (15 miles and on OS mapping) connects the Thames Path at Kingston with the North Downs Way near Westhumble along a green corridor through Malden Manor, Horton Country Park, the Commons of Epsom and Ashstead, and Mickleham Downs.

The North Downs Way signposts from Canterbury to Dover include the logo of the Via Francigena: a pilgrim.

SEPTEMBER 2023: The footway alongside the M2 across the Medway Bridge, near Rochester, Kent, was closed for safety improvements from June 2023 until the end of the year. While the closure is in place there is an hourly shuttle bus between 6am and 7pm (going south to north; 6.30am to 7.30pm the other way) which takes walkers across the bridge.

The LDWA National Trails Register offers certificates for completers of several British National Trails.

See also E-Routes (E2).


Waymark: National Trail Acorn
Path Type: National Trails (England & Wales)
Waymark: National Trail Acorn
Attributes: National Trail (England and Wales)
World Heritage Site
Start: SU844466 - Farnham, Surrey View on StreetMap
Finish: TR321411 - Dover, Kent View on StreetMap
Open Date: 1978
Web Sites: National Trails - North Downs Way Explore Kent - North Downs Way Kent Downs National Landscape - North Downs Way Annierak - North Downs Way [blog] Backpack Artist - North Downs Way [blog] Brian's Walks - North Downs Way [blog] British Walks - North Downs Way [blog] Jason McDonald's Walking Pages - North Downs Way [blog] North Downs Way [unofficial website] Rambling Man - North Downs Way [blog] Southern Walks - Chalk Country : North Downs Way Stephen and Lucy Dawson - North Downs Way [blog] Tim Bertuchi - North Downs Way [blog] Trailplanner - North Downs Way [blog] A walker's journal - The North Downs Way [blog] London Hiker - The best North Downs Way views from Google Trekker [blog] London Hiker - Focus on: the North Downs Way [blog] North Downs Way 1 - Dover to Hollingbourne (via Canterbury) [YouTube video] North Downs Way 2 - Hollingbourne to Oxted [YouTube video] North Downs Way 3 - Oxted to Farnham [YouTube video]

Publications, Badges and Certificates:

Guidebook North Downs Way: National Trail Guide  (Trails Shop  - 2023 )
Guidebook North Downs Way: A Guide to Walking the National Trail from Farnham to Dover  (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform  - 2019 )
Guidebook North Downs Way : Farnham to Dover  (Trailblazer  - 2018 )
Guidebook Walking the North Downs Way National Trail : from Farnham to Dover  (Cicerone Press  - 2017 )
General Interest Book National Trails : 19 long-distance routes through England, Scotland and Wales  (Cicerone Press  - 2015 )
Guidebook Guide to the Pilgrims' Way and North Downs Way  (Constable and Robinson (an imprint of Little, Brown)  - 1993 )
General Interest Book Big walks of the south  (Summersdale Publishers  - 2010 )
General Interest Book Big walks of Great Britain  (Summersdale Publishers  - 2007 )
External download Surrey County Council - Thames Down Link  (Surrey County Council ) Download
Badge Badge for National Trails  (Trails Shop )
Certificate Certificate for National Trails  (Trails Shop )
Certificate Certificate for National Trails  (Long Distance Walkers Association )
Certificate Explore Kent Walk Challenge Certificate  (Explore Kent )
Other National Trail mug  (Trails Shop )
Guidebook Pub walks along the Pilgrims' Way & North Downs Way  (Countryside Books  - 1998 )
General Interest Book Tales from the Big Trails  (Vertebrate Publishing  - 2021 )

Click to showhide 12 more Publications, Badges and Certificates


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Path Variants
E Routes
National Trails (England & Wales)
Paths Marked on OS mapping
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Anytime Challenges

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Walkers are Welcome

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2016.
© OpenStreetMap contributors under Open Database Licence.
Rights of way data from selected Local Authorities.
Large scale digital mapping is provided by John Thorn.
At high zoom levels the route is indicative only.
Purchase Ordnance Survey Maps (path is named on OS maps):
OS Landranger 177, 178, 179, 186, 187, 188, 189
OS Landranger Active 177, 178, 179, 186, 187, 188, 189
OS Explorer 137, 138, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 163
OS Explorer Active 137, 138, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 163
Other Paper Maps:
Harvey National Trail map
North Downs Way (Harvey Maps - 2013)
ZigZag 20 Stripmap
North Downs Way 1: Farnham to Dorking (Yellow Publications - 2023)
ZigZag 20 Stripmap
North Downs Way 2: Dorking to Otford (Yellow Publications - 2023)
ZigZag 20 Stripmap
North Downs Way 3: Otford to Detling (Yellow Publications - 2023)
ZigZag 20 Stripmap
North Downs Way 4: Detling to Wye (Yellow Publications - 2023)
ZigZag 20 Stripmap
North Downs Way 5: Wye to Dover (Yellow Publications - 2023)

Click to show 3 more Other Paper Maps

Walking Support Providers:

Support Providers
Support Providers
Support Providers
Self-Guided Walking Holidays (Contours Holidays)
Support Providers
Support Providers
Self Guided Walking Holidays (Green Traveller)
Support Providers

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Accommodation within 5 km of this Path:

Hostel Accommodation
4 km
30 km
Group Accommodation
1 km
39 km
Hostel Accommodation
5 km
125 km
Walkers are Welcome
4 km
183 km
Walkers are Welcome
< 1 km
201 km

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GPX Route File
MemoryMap Route File
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Tracklogs Route File
North Downs Way National Trail Tracklogs Route file
Last Updated 12/12/2020 16:50:45
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Route Profile:

201.7 km (125.3 miles)
4,852 m (15,919 ft) ascent
259 m (850 ft)  maximum height

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