The Pilgrims footpath and byway over the North Downs in Kent UK.

With views ready to take your breath away, the North Downs is not only an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty rich in woodland and grasslands, but also offers a journey through history and cultural heritage. Join our brand new walking weekend exploring and soaking up parts of the delightful Pilgrims and North Downs Way.

Grade: Easy to Medium

View looking along the beautiful River Stour in Canterbury towards Westgate Tower on a clear warm June summer day.Westgate i…

Why Go?

  • Brand new walking holiday soaking up parts of the delightful Pilgrims and North Downs Way
  • Two lovely guided walks included
  • Picture-postcard villages, iconic sites and glorious countryside
  • Stay in a hotel transformed from a 17th-century barn nestling in the Kent countryside

The North Downs Way

The North Downs Way National Trail stretches through the Surrey Hills, from Farnham to Dover, covering a distance of 153 miles. Our scenic section on Saturday takes us from the village of Charing and onto the North Downs Way as we explore some of Kent’s most picturesque countryside via the ancient trackway of the Pilgrims’ Way.

Saturday Walk

We follow the North Downs to Eastwell Manor country park, passing the ruins of St Mary’s Church where the illegitimate son of Richard III is believed to be buried. We then head on to the village of Boughton Lees, stopping for lunch at the Flying Horse Pub (own cost). Our trail then follows tracks of ancient pilgrims along the North Downs Way to Chilham, visiting Pilgrim’s Porch at Boughton Aluph Church, before heading up the Old Drovers trail into King Wood and through the grounds of Godmersham Park. It is here that Jane Austen got the inspiration for Mansfield Park and also where her brother lived.

We finish in the medieval village of Chilham, one of the most beautiful villages in the county. Its square is surrounded by medieval timber framed buildings and its south flank faces the entrance to Chilham Castle. We visit the locations used in the Powell and Pressburgher film A Canterbury Tale which today is still used as a location for filming, and recently featured as the main setting for the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.

Sunday Walk

On Sunday, we head back to Chilham and strike out onto the Pilgrims Way. Hear tales of Hilaire Belloc’s and Julia Cartwright’s routes to Canterbury as we ascend to Old Wives Lees through countryside evocative of the Garden of England, passing houses through orchards and woods to Nickel Farm. We stop for a light bite (own cost) in the village of Chartham Hatch, before continuing through No Man’s Orchard to Bigbury Camp, an iron-age hill fort where it is suggested Caesar defeated the British/Belgic tribes in 54BC.

Our last couple of miles takes us through Harbledown, passing St Nicholas’s Chapel and the Black Princes Well, and then onto the final stretch into Canterbury. See the lead vault in the church of St Dunstan’s of Sir Thomas More before finishing late afternoon through the city walls and the medieval West Gate, through which pilgrims would have passed when the gate was constructed in 1490.

Holiday Inn Ashford-Central ★★★

Converted from a 17th century barn and complete with period features, our hotel is nestled in the Kent countryside, just a mile from Ashford town centre and on the doorstep of the North Downs. 

Facilities Include

Modern facilities here include a bar and restaurant. 

Rooms Include

Rooms all offer a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, tea/coffee-making facilities and a hairdryer.

What's Included:

  • Twin/double room for single use with private facilities
  • Welcome drink & information meeting
  • 2 guided walks, including transfers
  • Accompanying Solos Tour Leader
  • Breakfast & dinner

What’s extra:

  • Insurance, see here

Please note:

  • For important information relating to walking holidays, see Medical Conditions.

Useful Information

Location & Transport
The hotel is located off Junction 9 of the M20. Ashford International rail station is less than 2 miles away. Complimentary car parking is available.

Walking programme
Two guided walks are included in the programme. The walking programme is graded easy to medium and you can expect to walk up to 18km (11.2 miles) on the first walk and around 12km (7.5 miles) on the second walk.

A coach will be used to transfer you to the end point of the 1st walk and are included at the start and the end of the 2nd walk.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fit and well enough to take part in your chosen activity holiday. If you are unsure as to whether the walks are within your capabilities, please contact the office to discuss this matter, thus making sure you appreciate the terrain that you will be walking.

You could be walking across uneven ground in some areas and extreme care must be taken, especially if wet. If used to using a pole/stick, it is advisable to bring it. Please appreciate the route and content of the holiday may change at the time and at the discretion of the guide/organiser, should conditions require. Solo’s Holidays Ltd cannot be held responsible for personal injury, accident or damage to property whilst on these walks other than incidents arising out of the company’s negligence. The guide has the right to refuse to guide a walk with anyone not properly attired.

What to Wear
It is of paramount importance that you have the correct footwear. It is essential to wear walking boots that are comfortable and preferably lightweight, with some ankle support and a good grip. If you already have a pair of boots that you are happy walking in (including during hot/wet weather and on hard ground), then bring these along. However, if you are bringing new footwear, do make sure they are well broken in before you arrive. Experience has shown that wearing 2 pairs of woollen socks adds to comfort.

Whilst we would hope for good weather during your holiday, it is of course impossible to guarantee this. We would therefore recommend you travel with clothing suitable for all conditions, and suggest you use the following checklist as a guideline of what to take:

  • Walking boots with good ankle support
  • Waterproofs – jacket and trousers
  • Walking poles – recommended as they provide good support for the knees, particularly on downhill sections of walks and when conditions are wet/slippery
  • Lightweight trousers and shorts with pockets
  • Shirts or t-shirts for walking in
  • Walking socks – several pairs
  • Lightweight fleece or jumper
  • Hat & gloves
  • Daysack/rucksack for walking
  • Umbrella – it can be used also for protection from the sun as well as rain
  • Lightweight drinking bottle to carry water whilst walking
  • Small first aid kit – plasters, insect repellant, etc
  • Good, high factor sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses – the sun’s strength is often multiplied in mountainous areas.

There is often confusion on the question of gratuities, since it frequently depends on the type of holiday, location and, of course, your attitude towards tipping, as to what is normally expected. In order to give you a rough idea, we have given appropriate guidance below. The Tour Leader will be on hand to offer advice or suggestions if required but gratuities are offered entirely at the sole discretion of the individual. We suggest a group collection at the beginning of your holiday to cover drivers, guides, porters and hotel staff (including restaurant, kitchen and reception staff) of approximately £5. Your Tour Leader will collect this on your behalf and distribute it accordingly, thus relieving you of the burden of who, when and how much to tip. The tipping of bar staff and housekeeping will be left to your individual discretion (the rounding up of the drinks bill and a small amount left in your room on departure should cover this and would be much appreciated). For any meals that are not included in your itinerary, restaurants expect a 10% gratuity (do check that service has not already been added to your bill). For taxis 10% of the metered fare.

Choose a UK holiday with confidence; enjoy the best of British.

Please contact us for further information 0208 951 2800.

What's Included:

  • Twin/double room for single use with private facilities
  • Welcome drink & information meeting
  • 2 guided walks, including transfers
  • Accompanying Solos Tour Leader
  • Breakfast & dinner

What’s extra:

  • Insurance, see here

Please note:

  • For important information relating to walking holidays, see Medical Conditions.

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