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


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!

Book Tickets

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 2023 - 31 Dec 2023)


What's Nearby

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