The North Downs Way: Wye to Deal

Explore the verdant rolling grassland and dry valleys of the Downs and admire epic views of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover and the historic old port of Deal with an option to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims to the magnificent cathedral at Canterbury.

Follow the North Downs Way from the village of Wye across an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to reach the coast at Dover. This flexible itinerary then offers the option of continuing on to the historic old ‘Cinque Port’ of Deal or making a personal pilgrimage to the cathedral city of Canterbury – site of Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in 1170. The route offers superb scenic tranquillity across a mixture of woodland, open grassland and hills; providing stunning views as you head towards the White Cliffs of Dover. From Folkestone, the walk skirts the Kent coast and cliffs, winding its way on to the seaside town of Deal on the 6-day itinerary – or – on the 7-day itinerary, heading inland from Dover to Canterbury, following in the footsteps of medieval Pilgrims.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Distance

55km or 70km

Days

6 or 7

Grade

Moderate

Theme

History / Coastal / Pilgrimage / Nature

Landscape Type

By Water /Rolling Countryside

The North Downs Way: Wye to Deal

Every step of the journey has been carefully planned to help you make the most of your walking adventure. Click on the blue tabs below for more information.

Tour Details

This itinerary has been created with Walk Awhile, a locally-based walking holiday company who specialise in self-guided walking holidays in the UK. With more than 16 years’ experience, Walk Awhile is focused on Kent and the Pilgrims’ Way – with unrivalled local knowledge of the area.

This flexible itinerary includes: accommodation in B&Bs, inns and hotels with breakfasts, daily luggage transfer, fully marked up maps and guidebooks with walk essentials hamper, tracker support. A Walk Awhile tracker will meet you on arrival evening to talk through the walk and provide the walk essentials hamper. Support and advice is available by phone throughout the duration of the walk.

To find out more about this itinerary and make an enquiry or a booking, click on the Enquire Now button at the top of the page. The Save to My Rucksack button allows you to save itineraries to view later, or to download them as a PDF.

Itinerary

Starting in the pretty village of Wye, where the North Downs Way was officially opened in 1978, this route follows the chalk escarpment of the Kentish Downs to the iconic White Cliffs at Dover before heading east to the historic old port of Deal or north to the cathedral city of Canterbury. Along the way, you’ll encounter imposing castles and stunning coastal views.

Day 1 - Arrive at Wye

Check into your accommodation, a country inn at the heart of Wye village. A Walk Awhile tracker will meet you at the Inn to talk you through the walk and provide you with maps and guidebooks.

Day 2 - Wye to Brabourne

Follow the North Downs Way up onto the chalk escarpment, the views opening out as you ascend to the Wye Nature Reserve, where orchids flower in season. Above the bowl-shaped valley at the Devil’s Kneading Trough, enjoy stunning views from the scarp across Romney Marsh to Dungeness and over the Channel. This is a lovely place for a picnic before ascending the chalk slopes to Brabourne village.   8.9 km/5.5 miles

Day 3 - 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 Folkestone. This grassland is littered with rare flora, WW2 pillboxes and earthworks from a Norman Castle. 13.2 km / 8.2 miles

Day 4 - 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 Wing visitor centre, where you can visit The Scramble Experience and enjoy views of the English Channel from the Cockpit Café. The site is part of the ‘ChalkUp21’ trail”  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. 16.9 km / 10.5 miles

Day 5 - Dover to Deal

Dover Castle is one of the best places to gain an understanding of a thousand years of England’s history. Take the morning to explore and don’t miss the fabulous WWII tunnels. Follow England Coast Path, visiting the smuggling village of St Margaret’s Bay. The walk continues onwards to Walmer, with its picture-perfect Tudor Castle and gorgeous gardens. Your destination is the town of Deal, where you will spot the third spectacular castle of the day. Your seafront accommodation in Deal is a nineteenth-century Inn. 15.9km / 9.9miles

 

Day 6 - Departure

Explore the old smuggling town of Deal which boasts an award winning high street with cafes, independent galleries, boutiques and bars or travel the 7 miles either on foot or by train to the neighbouring ‘Cinque Port’ town of Sandwich with a vast array of narrow streets and wood framed listed buildings before departing for travel home.

Alternative Extended Itinerary - Day 5 - 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. Overnight accommodation in walker friendly B&Bs in the villages of Shepherdswell or Eythorne. 14.5 km / 9 miles

Alternative Extended Itinerary - Day 6 - 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, visiting the World Heritage Site of Canterbury Cathedral, St Augstine’s Abbey and St Martins Church, the oldest English speaking church in the world. Walk Awhile has undertaken extensive research on the History of Pilgrimage and Canterbury and can provide briefing papers, audio and literature to walkers. 17 km / 10.6 miles

Alternative Extended Itinerary - Day 7 - Departure

Trains run frequently from both Canterbury West and Canterbury East stations back to London. Trains to Ashford, Dover and Folkestone for other connections.

Accommodation

Walk Awhile accommodates walkers at inns, hotels and B&Bs.

There are dozens of historic pubs along the route, including: The Five Bells, Brabourne, The Coastguard, St Margaret’s Bay, The Flying Horse, Wye and the Woolpack at Chilham.

Travel

Air /Rail / Coach / Ferry

Air – the nearest airports are Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

Rail – take trains from Gatwick, Stansted or Heathrow Airport to London St. Pancras International and onward to Ashford in Kent. Ashford International Station is one stop from Wye.    Canterbury, Ashford & Dover are also on the main train lines from St Pancras International.

Take the Eurostar from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Paris and Brussels to St. Pancras, and Ashford International.

Coach – Alternatively, the National Express Coach Services run regularly from London Victoria to Canterbury, Ashford and Dover.

Ferry –  Arrive at Dover Ferry Port in Kent from Calais by cross channel ferry, from where trains can be taken to Ashford/Wye.

Walk Awhile can arrange taxi services for you through local transport partners.

Advice

Walking is moderate, recommended walking times are spring/summer/autumn.

Standard walking equipment is required (information will be provided) and advice given on fitness levels. The trail is open all year and the distances could be comfortably achieved during the shorter days of winter, but the best time of year to walk this route is during spring or early summer, when the downlands are alive with wild flowers, insects and birds.

Food & Drink

Kent is known as the ‘Garden of England’ with locally grown fruit, including apples, pears, and soft fruits. Hops are grown for the local brewery in Faversham, and there are vineyards at Chartham near Canterbury and in the Elham Valley. There are local cheese makers such as Canterbury Cheesemakers and farmers markets fortnightly on Saturdays in Wye. Walk Awhile can arrange an optional visit to the Shepherd Neame Brewery in Faversham – one of the oldest in England.

The North Downs Way National Trail has teamed up with local breweries in Surrey & Kent to create an “Ale Trail” for walkers to explore along the route. In collaboration with a fantastic network of country pubs, inns and farm shops, a map and beer passport for walkers has been created, allowing walkers to seek out the different ales and tick them off as they pass along the trail.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

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