|Length||17.9 km / 11.1 miles|
|Toughness||7 out of 10. There are 2 steep climbs near the start, but then largely level walking with only smaller inclines along easy, well maintained paths. The Dover option has an extra hill so 8/10.|
This walk follows the waymarked North Downs Way (NDW) along the edge of an escarpment with views over the English Channel for almost the entire route. Apart from 2 steep climbs near the start, the route is largely level and easy going, but fairly exposed to the prevailing wind direction.
The walk starts by following a dismantled railway line and then a steep climb up a chalky track to Tolsford Hill, with views over the English Channel, to pick up the waymarked North Downs Way (NDW). Heading east, the NDW descends into the Elham Valley and under another disused railway line. There's a second steep climb up a narrow grassy valley on the other side. Navigation along this stretch is a little tricky in places, so do take/print out a map.
The rest of the walk is easy, along a level, well maintained path along the side of the escarpment with spectacular views out over the coast, the English Channel, and later Folkestone, and the Channel Tunnel rail terminal. For the rest of the walk, you can see Folkestone, and either of the stations you are aiming for!
Just past the viewpoint over Channel Tunnel, by an ancient hill fort, there is an option to cut the walk short to Folkestone West. Note that this involves a long pavement walk to the station.
The main walk continues, contouring around the summit of a hill, high above Folkestone, with views out over the channel, until it reaches the coast at the start of the White Cliffs of Dover. Here there is a choice.
The Gatekeeper Inn Canterbury Road, Etchinghill, Folkestone, Kent CT18 8DE, (01303 864345). Open 12.00-late daily. Food served Mon-Fri 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-20.30, Sat 12.00-16.00 and 18.00-20.30, Sun 12.00-17.00.
Bus Line 17 Canterbury - Folkestone passes the lunch pub in Etchinghill, 500m off route, after 5.1 km (hourly Mon-Sat, 2-hourly Sun).
Walk 93A - Sandling to Folkestone West
Drop out early to Folkestone West (but a long 2 km of pavement along a busy road). About 11 km/7 miles
Walk 93B - Sandling to Folkestone via the White Cliffs (recommended)
The main walk, but adds an out and back walk along the White Cliffs. About 20 km/12 miles
Walk 93C - Sandling to Folkestone to Dover
Continue along the White Cliffs all the way to Dover. About 21 km/13 miles. The 'Cliff Top Cafe' is the very highly recommended place for a late lunch on this option due to its amazing views.
Although far from London, Sandling and Folkestone West (hourly) , Folkestone Central and Dover (2/hour) have frequent train service from both London Charing Cross (1hr 30) and St Pancras (High Speed, 1 hr)
Suggested Train: Closest to 9:45 (high speed) or 9:15 (low speed)
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
|Map Walk||This walk requires an OS map and a compass or GPS for navigation. You can print out OS maps using the link above.|
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone. OpenStreetMap (not OS) mapping is used in the PDF for licence reasons.
- [Map 1] : Starting from the Sandling Station car park (on the south side of the tracks), head southeast along the route of the dismantled railway shown on the map. Where the path disappears into a tunnel, veer left up steps and through woods (ignoring a few footpaths with a "no through path" sign on the left), then eventually turn left (north) at a T-junction to join the Saxon Shore Way/Elham Valley Way. (About 1 km in total).
- Continue North, uphill, following the Saxon Shore Way/Elham Valley Way, over the M 20, and climb Tolsford Hill up to the Radio Masts (2 km).
- [Map 2] : NDW: At the masts turn right to pick up the North Downs Way (which joins from the left), initially across the grassy plateau, then along the edge of the hill, with a steep drop and spectacular views on your right hand side (1 km).
- NDW: At a wood, turn left downhill with the NDW/SSW. Follow the path downhill. You come to a road.
- Turn left along the road for an optional diversion to the lunch pub in Etchinghill
- NDW: Cross the road, and continue a little to teh right along a drive. Turn left into a pasture (before gate to Coombe Farm). Bear right diagonally through the field and follow path through wood and across stream, then eventually go under a disused railway bridge (1 km). Then, north east, climbing up to the ridge (1 km).
- Map 3] NDW: There are spectacular views over the Channel for the rest of the walk as you again follow the edge of a hill with a steep drop and fine views to your right. Follow the ridge, east then south (2 km).
- NDW: As the path turns east again, you can see the Channel Tunnel terminus below you (rather than being an eyesore, it's actually quite interesting), Folkestone layed out like a map, and the Channel. Follow this path along the edge of the hill above the rail terminus (2.5 km)
- [Map 4] NDW: You reach a traffic free road that goes steeply downhill.
- To cut the walk short: Go down this road. Cross the busy road junction (there are safe pedestrian crossings), and head due south for 2 long km on the pavement of a busy suburban road to Folkestone West station (3 km total)
- NDW: Continue along the NDW, around Caeser's Camp/Castle Hill, a good picnic spot (1 km).
- NDW: Continue following the edge of the hill, high above Folkestone and the Channel (3 km).
- NDW: Eventually you cross a busy road (B 2011), and after 100m, the NDW meets the coast, on a high cliff above a railway line. The area below is The Warren, an undercliff created by land slips.
- At this point you have a choice : 1) follow the coast down into Folkestone, 2) walk along the White Cliffs a little way before returning to this point and taking the Folkestone path, or 3) continuing along the White Cliffs/NDW all the way to Dover
To Finish in Folkestone
- Leave the NDW, and head south on a path downhill towards Folkestone (with the Warren on 1 side, and Folkestone on the other), 0.5 km
- Meet the coast, and follow it past a beach, then the harbour (3.5 km).
- Past the harbour, turn north through eth Old Town, inland towards Folkestone Central station (1 km), or continue along the cliff top promenade to the Folkestone Grand for tea.
To walk along the start of the White Cliffs
- NDW: Continue east, following the NDW. No views at first, but soon you come out on the cliff edge path along the top of the White Cliffs. You pass a pub (The Royal Oak, inland from the path, after 200 m), the Battle of Britain memorial (after 500m), a pub with a view (The Lighthouse Inn, after 1.2 km), and a nice cafe with a stunning view (Clifftop cafe, after 1.4 km).
- At this point continue to Dover or retrace your steps, and take the Folkestone path.
To continue along the cliffs, and Finish in Dover
- [Map 5 and 6] NDW: Continue along the NDW, now more remote along the cliff edge path, eventually leaving the cliff top path to head inland, down into a valley to cross a busy road. 5km.
- [Map 6] NDW: On the outskirts of Dover, pass a couple of housing estates to reach the Western Heights (above Dover centre) with WW2 era remains. 1 km.
- NDE: The NDW comes out on Centre Road, which becomes North Military Road. Leave the NDW by turning left on Malvern Road, then right on Clarendon Road for a short walk inland to Dover Station. 300m