North Downs Way
North Downs Waymarker

North Downs Way

The North Downs Way is a long-distance walking path from Farnham, on the western extremities of Surrey, to Dover, on the south-east coast of Kent. The official route of the Way totals around 245 kilometres in length, but factoring in side-trips into some of the towns and villages near the route and walking between train stations and the start and end of each stage increases the distance to almost 300 kilometres.

Near the village of Boughton Lees in Kent, the path divides - one branch going to Dover via Wye and Folkestone, and the other branch going to Dover via Canterbury. I decided to take the branch via Canterbury first, then to walk back along the other branch to end the walk at Boughton Lees.

While most of the North Downs Way is fairly well waymarked, there are places where the fingerposts and waymarker discs are damaged, missing or, in a couple of cases, a little misleading. This seemed to be more of a problem in Kent than it was in Surrey, although the Kent authorities have recently gone some way towards improving this situation by replacing most of the fingerposts where the North Downs Way meets any of Kent's roads. There are also a few places where farmers have carelessly, or perhaps even deliberately, ploughed away the well-worn trails that the route follows across their fields.

Therefore, it's wise to carry the relevant Ordnance Survey Explorer or Landranger maps or one of the guidebooks. I took both the OS Explorer maps and the Trailblazer guidebook, though the Official National Trail Guide from Aurum Press is also good, and reproduces the relevant parts of the OS Explorer maps.

I completed the walk over a period of three and a half weeks, spending fourteen of those days on the trail. I could probably have completed the walk in two or three fewer stages, but I preferred to take a little more time so that I could comfortably explore various towns, villages and sites of interest on or near the trail. After all, you don't want to walk nearly 300km and be too busy to see what's around you.

Day 1

Farnham to St, Martha's Hill

Farnham to St, Martha's Hill

23 Jul 2010
20km

Day 2

St Martha's Hill to Dorking

St Martha's Hill to Dorking

24 Jul 2010
16km

Day 3

Dorking to Merstham

Dorking to Merstham

28 Jul 2010
16km

Day 4

Merstham to Oxted

Merstham to Oxted

29 Jul 2010
12.8km

Day 5

Oxted to Otford

Oxted to Otford

30 Jul 2010
19.2km

Day 6

Otford to Wrotham

Otford to Wrotham

31 Jul 2010
8.8km

Day 7

Wrotham to Rochester

Wrotham to Rochester

01 Aug 2010
18.6km

Day 8

Rochester to Hollingbourne

Rochester to Hollingbourne

02 Aug 2010
22.8km

Day 9

Hollingbourne to Charing

Hollingbourne to Charing

05 Aug 2010
14km

Day 10

Charing to Canterbury

Charing to Canterbury

08 Aug 2010
28km

Day 11

Canterbury to Shepherdswell

Canterbury to Shepherdswell

09 Aug 2010
16.4km

Day 12

Shepherdswell to Dover

Hollingbourne to Charing

10 Aug 2010
14km

Day 13

Dover to Etchinghill

Dover to Etchinghill

11 Aug 2010
20.5km

Day 14

Etchinghill to Boughton Lees

Etchinghill to Boughton Lees

16 Aug 2010
19.5km