North Downs Way National Trail

Type:Waymarked Trail

Castle Hill, Detling, Nr Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3JE

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Looking out over the Village of Thurnham towards the Weald

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The North Downs stretch from Farnham in Surrey across Kent and finish on top of the White Cliffs of Dover. To cover the whole length of this long distance path you would need to walk 153 miles and many people do. This mileage does include a loop which takes in Canterbury at the eastern end. The trail runs along the chalk ridge of the North Downs and, whilst this is one of the most populated corners of the world, the vast majority runs through peaceful countryside.

The path was opened in 1978 and most of it is within easy reach of London. The good transport links to many of the sections make it the perfect location for day walks and you can take in the distance a bit at a time in easy stages.

Around the Maidstone area it is possible to arrive by train and catch the train home or alternatively catch the train back to where you left your car. Cuxton is a good place to start and then Maidstone East, Bearsted and Hollingbourne are all stations where you can get back. A little further on is Lenham and Charing, both of which work well.

A number of circular routes taking in parts of the North Downs Way are immensely popular walks. Frequently walkers find themselves surrounded by wild flowers, birds and spectacular views over the Weald and out to the Thames Estuary. The habitat of these chalk soils is unusual and therefore the flora and fauna is frequently rare making this a special place. Beautiful and rare orchids can be found and skylarks nest on the ground and fly with high pitched voices.

To find your way and discover this special place you can obtain an Ordnance Survey Explorer map from 188 and 189, which covers the area around Maidstone.  We have given the postcode for White Horse Wood Country Park as this is the closest view point on the North Downs for Maidstone.  (You will need to walk south from the car park for about 150 metres to find it.)

Supporting the North Downs Way National Trail is project called "Ales of the Trail" .  These are all local ales who are making a contribution to the National Trail with every ale you buy.  Quite apart from simply enjoying the traditional refreshment of ale, you will also be helping to maintain this route for the future. Click through the link to find out more about this project and get your passport for the ales!

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

From the A229 Maidstone to Sittingbourne and from Maidstone East Station to all of the stations along the foot of the Downs

Opening Times

North Downs Way National Trail (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)

What's Nearby

  1. Thurnham Castle

    Thurnham Castle and the site on which it stands appears to have been used for…

    0 miles away
  2. White Horse Wood Country Park

    The White Horse Country Park is set within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural…

    0.08 miles away
  3. Thurnham Accessible Heritage Trail

    Thurnham Castle, 6km north of Maidstone, stands on a spur of the chalk ridge of the North…

    0.18 miles away
  1. Kent Event Centre

    Home of the annual Kent County Show, the Kent Event Centre hosts over 40 public shows…

    0.28 miles away
  2. Augustine Camino Pilgrimage Trail

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  3. This Art of Mine

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  4. Bearsted Golf Course

    18-hole parkland golf course with view of the North Downs. Professional coaching…

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  5. Bearsted Market on the Green

    Bearsted Market on the Green is held on the 1st Sunday of the Month on the village green.

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  6. Delta Hotels by Marriott Tudor Park Country Club Golf Course

    Tee off from the 18-hole Championship golf course at Delta Hotels by Marriott Tudor Park…

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  7. Vinters Valley Nature Reserve

    This 90 acre park on the eastern edge of Maidstone is managed as a nature reserve for…

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  8. Hucking Estate

    This beautiful ancient woodland sits on top of the North Downs and has one of the most…

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  9. Hot Air Balloon Rides Over Hollingbourne

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  10. Mote Park Outdoor Adventure

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  11. Mote Park

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  12. Mote Park Watersports Centre

    Located in the centre of Mote Park offering a variety of watersports including sailing,…

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  13. Maidstone Leisure Centre

    Maidstone Leisure Centre is a fantastic community leisure centre that has a wide range of…

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