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Chalky grasslands, stepping stones and spectacular views

North Downs Way

Robin Hood's Bay - Cleveland Way National Trail

What is the North Downs Way?


The North Downs Way National Trail offers walkers 153 miles (246 Km) of spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious rolling countryside, passing through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You don’t have to walk the National Trail in one go to enjoy the best it has to offer. 


Starting in Farnham and  ending in Dover, the North Downs Way passes through a landscape of great variety. There are eight castles, three cathedrals, including Canterbury Cathedral,  three archbishops’ palaces as well as numerous stately homes and gardens close to it. The National Trail follows part of the Pilgrims Way and there are many churches and links to pilgrims who would have travelled these parts in Medieval and more recent times. There are also Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts, Medieval castles and WWII fortifications. 


The views from the scarp across the High Weald are spectacular, as is the countryside through which it passes. Much of the North Downs Way follows the legendary Pilgrims Way. Originally pilgrims travelled from Canterbury to Winchester to pray for St Swithun who was buried at the cathedral. The route was then used in reverse as pilgrims journeyed from Winchester to Canterbury Cathedral to pray at the shrine of Thomas Becket.


The North Downs Way takes the traveller through a rich tapestry of heritage and history.  

How long does it take to walk the North Downs Way end to end?

We recommend you take at least twelve days to complete the North Downs Way National Trail. This allows a comfortable 13 miles a day. The National Trail has steep ascents and descents in places, and more energetic climbs up Box and the Colley Hills in Surrey and those in the Mid Kent Downs.

How hard is the North Downs Way?

As with all National Trails there is a variety of terrain. Much of the North Downs Way is along relatively level ground but remember the National Trail follows the scarp slope of the North Downs and does go up and down it a few times. The section from Guildford to Reigate with St Marthas, Albury Down, White Down, Box Hill and Colley Hill is challenging. 

Which direction should I walk the North Downs Way in?

Historically Pilgrims would walk from West to East (Farnham to Dover) and guidebooks describe the route in this direction. However, the trail is signed in both directions so there's no reason why you can't walk the trail in the opposite direction.

Who can enjoy the North Downs Way National Trail?

The North Downs Way is predominantly for walkers. However, of the 153 miles (246 kilometres) 31 miles (50 kms) are public bridleway so can be used by horse riders and cyclists.  21 miles (33 kms) are Byway or Restricted Byway and 30 miles (48 kms) are metalled road. 

Taking your dog on the North Downs Way.

Your dog is welcome on North Downs Way. Please take care when walking through areas with livestock especially when lambs and calves are present. Cows with calves are very protective and can be aggressive towards dogs. Try to avoid walking close to cows with calves, if you encounter any aggression release your dog, do not try to pick it up.  

What is the best time of year to walk the North Downs Way?

The North Downs Way National Trail can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although some sections can become muddy in wet weather so be sure to dress appropriately

Can I buy North Downs Way merchandise?

We sell a range of North Downs Way merchandise including enamel badges, sew on badges, mugs and other merchandise. 

Can I get a North Downs Way National Trail completion certificate?

Our personalised North Downs Way completion certificate is a great momento for anyone that has completed the trail.

Guidebooks for the North Downs Way

North Downs Way North Downs Way loading
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North Downs Way North Downs Way loading
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North Downs Way: Farnham to Dover - Trailblazer North Downs Way: Farnham to Dover - Trailblazer loading
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Mountain Biking on the North Downs Mountain Biking on the North Downs loading
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Maps for the North Downs Way

North Downs Way A-Z Adventure Atlas North Downs Way A-Z Adventure Atlas loading
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North Downs Way Harvey map North Downs Way Harvey map loading
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North Downs Way Zigzag map - Farnham to Ranmore Common North Downs Way Zigzag map - Farnham to Ranmore Common loading
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North Downs Way Harvey SplashMap North Downs Way Harvey SplashMap loading
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North Downs Way Merchandise

National Trail sew-on woven badge National Trail sew-on woven badge loading
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National Trail Mug National Trail Mug loading
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National Trail Completion Certificate National Trail Completion Certificate loading
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Personalised National Trail Sign Personalised National Trail Sign loading
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National Trail souvenir signs National Trail souvenir signs loading
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North Downs Way enamel badge North Downs Way enamel badge loading
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Mini National Trail Fingerpost Mini National Trail Fingerpost loading
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Trail Tealight Holder Trail Tealight Holder loading
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Map of the North Downs Way

What are National Trails?

National Trails offer some of the best long-distance walking, riding and cycling experiences in England and Wales, officially supported by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. All of the National Trails are within easy reach of buses, trains and the services of nearby towns and villages. In fact nowhere in England or Wales is more than 50 miles / 80km from a National Trail. Each National Trail has dedicated staff, often working with local volunteers, to look after the physical condition of the Trail, keeping paths, gates, stiles and signs in the best condition.

Which trails are National Trails?

The National Trails are: 
  • Cleveland Way
  • Cotswold Way
  • England Coast Path
  • Glyndwr’s Way
  • Hadrian’s Wall Path
  • Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way
  • North Downs Way
  • Offa’s Dyke Path
  • Pembrokeshire Coast Path
  • Pennine Bridleway
  • Pennine Way
  • The Ridgeway
  • South Downs Way
  • South West Coast Path
  • Thames Path
  • Yorkshire Wolds Way 

The Coast to Coast is not currently a National Trail but will become one in the next couple of years.

Are there National Trails in Scotland?

In Scotland long-distance routes are called Scotland's Great Trails. There are 29 routes, at least 25 miles in length providing over 1,900 miles of well managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands. Each is distinctively waymarked, largely off road and has a range of visitor services and are are suitable for multi-day outings as well as day trips.


Scotland's Great Trails are:


  • Annandale Way
  • Arran Coastal Way
  • Ayrshire Coastal Path
  • Berwickshire Coastal Path
  • Borders Abbeys Way
  • Cateran Trail
  • Clyde Walkway
  • Cross Borders Drove Road
  • Dava Way
  • Fife Coastal Path
  • Formartine and Buchan Way
  • Forth & Clyde/Union Canal Towpath
  • Great Glen Canoe Trail
  • Great Glen Way
  • Great Trossachs Path
  • John Muir Way
  • Kintyre Way
  • Loch Lomond & Cowal Way
  • Moray Coast Trail
  • Mull of Galloway Trail
  • River Ayr Way
  • Rob Roy Way
  • Romans and Reivers Route
  • Southern Upland Way
  • Speyside Way
  • St Cuthbert’s Way
  • Three Lochs Way
  • West Highland Way
  • West Island Way