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Chalky grasslands, stepping stones and spectacular views

Walking the North Downs Way

North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
North Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop

About the North Downs Way National Trail


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. The Trails Shop has a wide range of guides, maps and merchandise to celebrate walking the North Downs Way.  


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 them. When walking the North Downs Way you will follow part of the Pilgrims’ Way, there are many churches and links to pilgrims who would have travelled these parts in both Mediaeval and recent times. There are also Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts, Mediaeval 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. Walking the North Downs Way takes the traveller through a rich tapestry of heritage and history. 

Check Out Our North Downs Way Merchandise 

You don’t have to complete this National Trail in one go to enjoy the best it has to offer. You can find maps and merchandise, along with books that include short walks on the North Downs Way here:

How long does walking the North Downs Way take, end to end?

We recommend you take at least twelve days to complete the North Downs Way National Trail, allowing a comfortable 13 miles a day. Walking the North Downs Way will involve steep ascents and descents in places, and more energetic climbs up Box Hill and Colley Hill in Surrey and those in the Mid Kent Downs.

Is walking the North Downs way hard?

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, going up and down it a few times. The section from Guildford to Reigate with St Martha’s Hill, Albury Down, White Down, Box Hill and Colley Hill is challenging.

When walking the North Downs Way, which direction should I go?

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 that the trail can’t be completed in the opposite direction.  

Who can enjoy walking the North Downs Way National Trail?

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

Can I bring my dog while walking the North Downs Way?

Your dog is welcome on the North Downs Way. Please take care when walking through areas with livestock especially when lambs and calves are present. Where possible, avoid walking with your dog around cows with calves as they can be particularly aggressive. If you encounter any aggression from protective cows, release your dog, do not try to pick it up.  

What is the best time of year for walking 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. For a personal touch, we offer personalised National Trail signs that commemorate your achievement, ideal for yourself or a fellow trail lover.

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

Walking the North Downs Way - guidebook with map Walking the North Downs Way - guidebook with map loading
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Walking the North Downs Way map booklet Walking the North Downs Way map booklet 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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North Downs Way Guidebook North Downs Way Guidebook 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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Walking the North Downs Way map booklet Walking the North Downs Way map booklet loading
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North Downs Way Art Print North Downs Way Art Print loading
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North Downs Way Merchandise

National Trail Mug National Trail Mug loading
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North Downs Way enamel badge North Downs Way enamel badge 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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Mini National Trail Fingerpost Mini National Trail Fingerpost loading
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Trail Tealight Holder Trail Tealight Holder loading
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North Downs Way Art Print North Downs Way Art Print loading
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North Downs Way Completion Certificate North Downs Way Completion Certificate loading
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North Downs Way circular woven sew-on badge North Downs Way circular woven sew-on badge loading
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'Follow the acorn' National Trail Men's Compass Hoody 'Follow the acorn' National Trail Men's Compass Hoody loading
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North Downs Way woven patch badge North Downs Way woven patch badge loading
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National Trails 'Follow the acorn' Compass T-Shirt National Trails 'Follow the acorn' Compass T-Shirt loading
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Reviews for Walking the North Downs Way

Other trail lovers have left helpful reviews so you can make your own decision on whether walking the North Downs Way is right for you.

Map of the North Downs Way