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The best of Surrey and Kent off-road — North Downs Way

Vlad Proklov

The best of Surrey and Kent off-road — North Downs Way

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

3-6

days

3-6 h

/ day

136 mi

7,950 ft

7,900 ft

Widely known as a fantastic walking trail, thanks to British campaigning charity CyclingUK there is now a route that takes in much of the original North Downs Way. Where the access forbids cycling, they’ve found alternative, quiet back lanes to avoid busy main roads so you can now enjoy much of the same route on two wheels.

You’ll firstly enjoy the steep climbs and descents of the Surrey Hills, wooded singletrack and byways, before heading east to Kent’s less testing gravel tracks and quiet lanes. The 137 mile (220 km) route takes in some other long distance trails too, including the ancient Pilgrims Way and you’ll climb the infamous Box Hill.

Riding all three stages over a few days can make for a great bikepacking route. Alternatively each stage can be ridden as a day ride very easily, thanks to the extensive transport network in this part of the country and the fact that each stage both starts and finishes near railway stations.

You’ll find many options at the end of each stage in Oxted, Hollingbourne and Dover for your overnight stay. Choose from hotels, guesthouses, hostels or local camping grounds, but make sure you book in advance during the busy summer months.

The North Downs Way is a great mix of off road trails and quiet lanes. You’ll definitely need something more off-road orientated than a road bike; a gravel, cyclo-cross or mountain bike will be best. The trails will be in the best condition during the summer months when it’s much drier. However, if you’re happy to get a bit mucky, this route can be enjoyed year-round. Make the most of the transport links and abundant places to stay and eat to get out there, whatever the weather.

Railway stations in Farnham, Oxted, Hollingbourne and Dover mean that this route is best accessed by train. Each of these are served by lines out of London, so can make for the perfect local weekend escape! Do make sure that you check whether you need to book your bike on the train when you buy your train ticket though, as space can be limited, especially at peak times.

Check out more from CyclingUK here: cyclinguk.org/article/north-downs-way-new-gpx-route

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North Downs Way cycling route

135 mi

7,925 ft

7,825 ft

Last updated: November 10, 2021

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Farnham to Oxted — North Downs Way

    Difficult
    07:22
    50.3 mi
    6.8 mph
    3,400 ft
    3,250 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first stage is the most undulating, taking in the Surrey Hills over the 50.3 mile (81 km) route.

    

    From the gorgeous town of Farnham at the start of the North Downs Way you’ll head east, rumbling past Guildford before climbing up onto the hillside of the North Downs. After a drop down to cross the Mole

    by Katherine Moore

    View
  • Difficult
    04:46
    39.2 mi
    8.2 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,275 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The shorter second stage, totalling 39.2 miles (63.1 km), largely follows the Pilgrim’s Way to Hollingbourne, once an important pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral from the west.

    

    Start the stage with a tough climb, some steep gradients up from the town past Titsey Place up to Botley Hill. Challenge

    by Katherine Moore

    View
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  • Difficult
    05:56
    47.0 mi
    7.9 mph
    2,400 ft
    2,375 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The third and final stage of the North Downs Way is an absolute belter, and one really for the history buffs! 47 miles (75.6 km) stand between the little village of Hollingbourne to Dover, the iconic gateway to the UK upon white chalk cliffs.

    

    Here you’ll reach the end of the Pilgrim’s Way in Canterbury

    by Katherine Moore

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    136 mi
  • Duration
    18:03 h
  • Elevation
    7,950 ft7,900 ft

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The best of Surrey and Kent off-road — North Downs Way

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