The Kent Downs
The Kent Downs are the eastern half of the North Downs covering nearly a quarter of Kent, stretching from the White Cliffs at Dover up to the Surrey and London borders. It was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1968.
It is a varied and energetic landscape with its spectacular chalk escarpments sprinkled with ancient beech woodlands and covered with grassland full of wild flowers and native orchids, sheltered dry valleys, networks of tiny lanes and celebrated hedgerows, ancient woodlands, long-established orchards, idiosyncratic villages and medieval farmhouses of the Kentish Weald, inimitable and valued wildlife and numerous sites of historic and cultural interest to explore.
The chalk ridge, with its distinguishing dip slope and dry valleys, has great wildlife importance in its unimproved chalk grassland, scrub communities and broadleaved woodlands. The well-wooded greensand ridge is particularly prominent in the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling districts and supports heathlands and acidic woodlands. Other characteristic landscape elements include orchards, hop gardens, horticulture and arable farmland, river valleys, ancient lanes and the rich wooded foreground of the upland ridges, together with a number of distiguished historic parklands including Knole and Winston Churchill's Chartwell.
This 153 mile route offers spectacular views and peaceful landscapes along the North Downs in Surrey and Kent. It starts at Farnham on the Surrey Hampshire border and ends at Dover - Gateway to England. Following this trail or one of the shorter circular walks can be an excellent way to discover some of the County's most fascinating historical landmarks and charming villages. There is a loop at the end of the trail to take in the magnificent cathedral city of Canterbury. Much of the Trail follows the Pilgrims Way, the legendary route that was used by pilgrims on their way from Winchester to Canterbury to pray at the shrine of St Thomas Becket who was murdered in 1170. Before this pilgrims would have walked the other way to pray for St Swithen, who was buried at Winchester Cathedral!
The main towns along the way in
Kent are Westerham, Sevenoaks, Kemsing, Rochester, Maidstone, Lenham, CharingAshford, Wye, Folkestone, Dover, Chilham and Canterbury.
Wide-ranging rights of way paths enable you to explore the countryside on foot, cycle and horseback.
There are a number of circular walks along the trail which you might consider taking if you just want to experience part of this incredible venture. They are:
Kemsing - A challenging 6.5 mile route that rewards walkers with magnificent views across the Weald of Kent.
Otford & Shoreham - A demanding 5 mile route that rewards walkers with fantastic views of Kent’s DarentValley.
Thurnham - This attractive 3.8 mile walk explores the picturesque hamlet of Thurnham, in Kent. The route can be extended by following an extra 1.5 mile loop.
Wye Downs - The walk offers awesome scenery with the CrundaleValley, the Devil’s Kneading Trough and the Wye Downs National Nature Reserve all featured. This is a 6 mile walk starting from Wye village in Kent.
Barham Downs and Adisham - Follow the rolling landscape of East Kent on this tranquil walk. The 6 mile route starts in Adisham village and leads out across the Barham Downs.
Harrietsham - This 5 mile route offers spectacular views of the surrounding Kent countryside.
You can download the walks at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Northdowns/downloads.asp?PageId=31
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015