THE NORTH DOWNS WAY : Farnham to Canterbury

DESCRIPTION:

Starting in the historic market town of Farnham and the official start of the North Downs Way National Trial, you will begin by walking through the Surrey Hills Area of outstanding Natural Beauty. You will be following in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims who journeyed to Canterbury to the shrine of Archbishop Thomas Becket, and who in turn used the drovers’ trails and trackways which stretched across from Dover to the West of England, and were used as trade routes in more ancient times, Reminders of these ancestors will be encountered as you will pass several Neolithic sites of great interest. There are fine Norman castles en route, as well as literary connections including to Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Aldous Huxley, Agatha Christie and William Cobbett. Finishing in the fascinating Cathedral City of Canterbury, you will have journeyed through hop gardens, vineyards, apple orchards and the rolling landscape of the Downs (112 miles). Can be extended to include the North Downs loop from Wye to Dover and back to Canterbury (153 miles total).  Moderate to challenging with ascents and descents.

England’s Great Walking Trails in association with Walk Awhile

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 £1232pp

ex flights

12 
days

 £1680pp

ex flights

16 
days
Available all year round
*Subject to accommodation checks 
 
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Day 3

Guildford to Dorking

Day 4

Dorking to Reigate

Day 5

Reigate to Westerham

Day 6

Westerham to Wrotham

The walk continues with views of the Darent Valley, and through woods full of bluebells in the spring. Connections with medieval pilgrimage continue including Chevening church which is dedicated to St. Botolph, the patron saint of travellers, and a short detour to Kemsing, known for St. Edith’s Holy Well, and a frequent stopping place for medieval pilgrims . There is a peaceful Kent Wildlife Trust nature reserve for a picnic. The overnight stay is in Wrotham associated with the journeys of medieval archbishops. Approx. 16.5 miles

Day 8

 

Rochester to Thurnham

Leave the city behind through fields and woodland, seeing wild orchids in season. Perhaps calling in for morning coffee at the old Robin Hood pub in the woods, and then on to a picnic at Kits Coty, with the remains of the Neolithic chamber For the last stage of today’s walk the ridge is ascended again, reaching the ruins of Thurnham Castle which stands high above the landscape below. Overnight accommodation at a walker friendly inn, in Thurnham with a well-reviewed restaurant. Approx. 12 miles

Day 9

 

Thurnham to Lenham

Old sections of the Pilgrims Way continue from Thurnham or there is a short detour to the beautiful Leeds Castle, home of six medieval queens. Returning to the North Downs Way, you continue to Hollingbourne, where lunch can be taken. Accommodation for the night will be in

an historic inn, at the picturesque Lenham square. Approx.11.5/9 or 6 miles with detour (optional taxi for shorter walking day).

Day 10

 

Lenham to Wye

Head along the old trackway past the Lenham Chalk Cross and look out for the rare Apple snail, thought to have been introduced to England by the Romans. Take a lunchtime stop in the village of Charing, where the ruins of the Archbishops Palace can be viewed from the green. After ascending in to woodland, the way continues through the agricultural landscape towards Eastwell Manor where, in the churchyard of the ruined church, can be seen the tomb of Richard Plantagenet, the illegitimate son of Richard 111. Crossing the village cricket green at Boughton Lees, refreshments are available at the inn, before descending to Wye. Approx. 10 miles/16 kms

Day 11

 

Wye to Canterbury

Visit Boughton Aluph church and see the Pilgrims Porch, where medieval pilgrims gathered at the church. Look out for deer in the woods, and wild bluebells in springtime. Take the footpath through Godmersham Park, where Jane Austen’s brother lived, and thought to be the inspiration for Mansfield Park. A choice of inns and a tea room, to take lunch in the medieval village of Chilham. The final stage of the journey passes through hop gardens and apple orchards to Canterbury, where accommodation is in one of several walker friendly hotels close to the Cathedral. Approx. 16 miles/26 kms

DEPARTURE 

 

Canterbury

Departure day or optional extra night in Canterbury to allow for sightseeing of the Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Tales exhibition, Roman Museum, Visitor Centre. Time for shopping in this bustling city, with its many independent and well-known stores, or eating at a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.

16 Day Trip

Day 11

 

Wye to Brabourne

alternative option to complete the entire North Downs Way/Via Francigena to Dover– From Wye continue the ‘North Downs Way & Coast’ walk to Brabourne – 5.5 miles/8.9 kms

Day 12

 

Brabourne to Folkestone

Today’s walk explores the most rural aspects of the Kent downs. Catch glimpses of the sea as you cross miles of pastureland, before admiring the 360-degree panoramic views from Tolsford Hill. The rustic Gatekeeper Inn is a good place to take lunch before continuing over the chalk downland to Folkstone. This grassland is littered with rare flora, WW2 pillboxes and earthworks from a Norman Castle. Approx. 8 miles/13.2 kms

Day 13

 

Folkestone to Dover

Head back onto the North Downs Way and Saxon Shore Way. Pass Caesar's Camp Iron-age fort and the Battle of Britain memorial and museum, where the visitor centre is part of ‘Chalk Up 21’– the first of nine buildings in an imaginative 21st century architectural series that you will pass. Follow the White Cliffs Country Trail along the top of cliffs, passing a Knights Templar church along with Napoleonic forts offering dramatic views of Dover castle and the White Cliffs of Dover. You may catch glimpses of France on the hazy horizon as you head into Dover, with plenty of options for food, drink.Approx. 10.5 miles/16 kms (see North Downs Way & Coast itinerary)

Day 14

 

Dover to Shepherdswell

On your two-day return to Canterbury, follow the pilgrimage route that has linked Europe with Canterbury since the Middle Ages. Climb out of Dover along the North Downs Way and White Cliffs Country Trail for stunning views back along the Coast behind you. Approx. 10.6 miles/17 km 

Day 15

 

Shepherdswell to Canterbury

Head through parkland and pastoral landscapes which skirt the old Kent mining villages of Snowdown and Aylesham and on the Barham Downs, pass through to the village of Patrixbourne, catching glimpses of the Cathedral in the distance during the last stages of the journey. Stay overnight in Canterbury City Centre. Many visitor attractions are within walking distance of your Hotel. Walk Awhile has undertaken extensive research on the History of Pilgrimage and Canterbury and can provide briefing papers, and literature to walkers. Approx. 10.6 miles/17 km 

DEPARTURE 

 

Canterbury

Departure day or optional extra night in Canterbury to allow for sightseeing of the Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Tales exhibition, Roman Museum, Visitor Centre. Time for shopping in this bustling city, with its many independent and well-known stores, or eating at a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.

ITINERARY

PRICE INCLUDES:

This itinerary includes: accommodation in B&Bs, inns and hotels with breakfasts, daily luggage transfer, fully marked up maps and guidebooks with walk essentials hamper and tracker support. A Walk Awhile tracker will meet walkers on the arrival evening to talk through the walk and provide the walk essentials hamper, which will be transported with your luggage each day. 

SELF-LED TOURS:

Support and advice is available by phone from your tracker throughout the duration of your walk. After breakfast each day, your luggage will be transported to your next accommodation stop.  There is an optional debrief meeting at the end of your holiday.

ACCOMMODATION:

Walk Awhile accommodates walkers at walker friendly inns, hotels and B&Bs. There are dozens of historic pubs along the route, for you to enjoy. 

GETTING THERE:

By AIR:
Flights arrive/leave from Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow Airport, with good links to St. Pancras International rail station. 

 

BY FERRY:

Dover Ferry Port in Kent connects to Calais by cross channel Ferry, from where train can be taken to Ashford/Wye.

 

By RAIL: 

Canterbury, Ashford & Dover on main train lines from St Pancras International. Ashford International Station is one stop from Wye

Eurostar from Lille, Paris and Brussels to St. Pancras, and Ashford.  National Express Coach Services run regularly from London Victoria to Canterbury, Ashford and Dover. 

ARRIVAL DAY

Day 1

Check in to hotel accommodation in historic Farnham, a busy town with many pubs and restaurants. Allow time to visit Castle Street and West Street, where the Farnham museum stands in an elegant Georgian Townhouse. The museum houses many artefacts including memorabilia relating to William Cobbett, the social reformer and political commentator, born in Farnham. Don’t miss the Norman Castle, which stands where King Alfred’s son Edward defeated the Danes in 893. A Walk Awhile Tracker will arrange to meet up to discuss the walk and leave maps and guidebooks.

Day 2

Farnham to Guildford

Today’s walk follows ancient holloways and greensand tracks, walking at the foot of the Hogs Back escarpment alongside farmland and passing historic sites from the medieval, Elizabethan, and Victorian periods. St. Catherine’s Hill has commanding views, and walkers leave the North Downs Way at this point to descend in to Guildford where accommodation is booked for the night, and where there is a wide choice of restaurants. Approx. 12 miles

Climbing the escarpment there are fine views across the Surrey Countryside. Stop for a break at Newlands Corner, where there are vistas across to the South Downs, and take a gentle detour to a vineyard. The trail takes you along an old Drovers Trail and through a Site of Special Scientific Interest, home to rare butterflies and wild flowers. Selection of overnight accommodation in, or close to, the bustling town of Dorking, renowned for its array of Antique shops. Approx. 13

This section of the route passes through woodland and chalk grassland with wild meadow flowers in season. After crossing the stepping stones over the River Mole, the trail climbs Box Hill, used as a setting for a picnic in Jane Austen’s Emma. There is a café and tourist centre at the summit, and more panoramic views. There are tantalising glimpses of the ‘Old Road’ overhung by yews before emerging from the woods through which the North Downs Way passes to take in the sights. Approx. 9 miles

Today’s route continues on to Gatton Park, one of the original ‘rotten boroughs’, with its Capability Brown landscape and richly decorated chapel, and the Millennium Stones There are several places to eat in Merstham before ascending to the Caterham viewpoint and Botley Hill, which is the highest point on the North Downs Way, and which is crossed by the Prime Meridian line. Choice of overnight accommodation in, or close to historic Westerham. Approx. 14 miles

Day 7

 

Wrotham to Rochester

Take a short detour from the trail to the Coldrum Stones, a Neolithic site where atmospheric scenes take the eye along the Medway gap. Continuing along the foot of the downs towards Rochester, you will pass the Paddlesworth crossing, where it is thought that medieval pilgrims waded over a now hidden causeway. Taking today’s safer crossing, descend into Rochester, with its Cathedral, Norman Castle, restaurants and accommodation for the night. Approx. 12 miles

 Extend your stay 

£74.50*

per person per night

*Based on 2 people sharing. £29 single occupancy supplement

Enquire Now for availability

 ADDITIONAL REST DAYS

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