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A South Downs ridge walk ... maximum view for minimum effort, with historic Lewes to finish.
East Sussex TOCW Book 1, Walk 29 • Toughness: 4/10 • Length: 11 miles (18 km)
This is an exhilarating walk along the South Downs Way, a ridge of South Downs chalk grassland with panoramic views inland and out to the sea by Brighton.
On the way up to the ridge, the route passes Butcher's Wood and visits a church in Clayton and a still-working Clayton Windmill. The friends of Jack and Jill windmill sometimes serve tea on weekends.
On the South Downs Way you pass medieval dew ponds and an Iron Age fort at Ditchling Beacon. After lunch, down below in Plumpton, you climb back up onto the downs, before a final walk into Lewes along the River Ouse, then up to the Norman castle and through its gateway into the ancient High Street.
This is an easier walk, with far fewer ups and downs, than Walk 25 from Winchelsea to Hastings.
Its a great picnic walk, as the pub is at the bottom of the ridge, and it would save you descending from the ridge to the pub, then climbing back up again afterwards
Coastal Walk along the cliffs to Dover, with options also taking in The Warren.
Kent SWC Walk 13 • Toughness: 7/10 • Length: 9 miles (15 km)
This is a highly scenic coastal walk with fine sea views throughout. It introduces you to some of the quainter sides of Folkestone, a town which like many south coast seaside towns is undergoing something of a renaissance. You then climb up past two Martello Towers (Napoleonic-era fortifications) onto a high clifftop, following the North Downs Way. This path is easy to follow, has fine Channel views, and passes the Battle of Britain Memorial and then a fascinating series of World War II installations, including a rare sound mirror (an early form of aircraft detection that was superseded by radar), and some large gun emplacements.
The only downside on this latter section of the route is noise from the A20 dual carriageway just inland, though this is muted when the wind is blowing from the sea (ie, from the south or south west). In compensation there is a dramatic approach to Dover – a narrow (but not difficult) ridge between an inland valley and the sea. The walk finishes by crossing the town’s Western Heights, passing deserted 19th century forts and with wonderful views of the town and port.
A dramatic ridge walk along the North Downs Way, overlooking the English Channel.
Kent SWC Walk 93 • Toughness: 5/10 • Length: 10 miles (17 km)
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 level and easy going.
The walk starts with a steep climb up Tolsford Hill, with views over the English Channel, to pick up the waymarked North Downs Way (NDW). Heading east, the NDW descends into a valley and under a disused railway line. There's a second steep climb up 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 hill 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.
- Finish in Folkestone. Turn right and follow the coast path down to Folkestone's seafront. You can catch the train from Folkestone Central, but if you have time, continue along the elegant cliff top promenade a little way to have tea at the Folkestone Grand - a faded Victorian era Grand Hotel.
- White Cliffs of Dover. Turn left and continue the cliff top walk along the White Cliffs for a little way with views over the Channel and the Warren (an undercliff), passing the Battle of Britain memorial, to reach a nice cafe with sea views. Either retrace your steps (recommended) and take the path down into Folkestone, or continue to Dover.
- Finish in Dover Turn left, and continue along the White Cliffs,...
Pretty Ridge Walk along the North Downs Way with lovely views. Nice pubs for lunch and tea
Kent SWC Walk 24 • Toughness: 6/10 • Length: 12 miles (21 km)
This lovely walk follows one of the finest sections of the North Downs Way (NDW) along the edge of the North Downs escarpement – in many ways it feels more like the South Downs - with fine views for nearly the whole walk. There is just one 3km (1.8 mile) section mid afternoon when you are away from the escarpment edge.
While the North Downs Way is waymarked, it is not always comprehensively so, and in places the waymarks are confusing or missing. The path is not always as obvious as one might expect from such a major long distance footpath. Hence the directions in the pdf version of this walk - see the DOWNLOAD WALK button above. While they for the most part follow the North Downs Way once it has climbed from Sandling up onto the ridge, the creation of access land has also opened up some escarpment sections that were formerly off limits to walkers, and where these improve the walk they have been included in the walk directions.
There is also a map-only version of the directions (see bottom of this page) for those that prefer this.
While downland can be relatively dry in winter, this walk does have several sections on shady tracks that look potentially very muddy between November and March. In late spring there can be intense displays of buttercups on this walk.
A river valley, gentle pastures, Watts Gallery, woods, remote heathlands and heather covered moors.
Surrey TOCW Book 2, Walk 12 • Toughness: 4/10 • Length: 13 miles (22 km)
Think Surrey, and you probably think of pretty villages, gentle green pastures, and the country houses of retired stockbrokers. The first part of this walk conforms to that image, but the second, after lunch, takes you into the suprisingly wild and uninhabited Surrey Heathlands - a vast area of woods, sandy grassland and heather-covered moors which at times feels more like southern Spain or Portugal than England.
The lack of habitation in this area means that it was either taken over by the army for exercises or bypassed by the railways, and so to visit it requires a long walk: the afternoon of this walk is 13.9 km (8.7) miles, or four hours thirty minutes walking time, as long in itself as some of the walks in this book: this is thus a walk for a long spring or summer day. The good news, however, is that there is no rush to get to tea: the excellent Bush Hotel in Farnham serves cream teas in a lounge crammed with comfortable sofas well into the evening.
Viewpoints on the North Downs to start, a pub lunch in Mogador, and a London panorama from the Epsom Downs to finish.
Surrey SWC Walk 4 • Toughness: 5/10 • Length: 9 miles (16 km)
The Main Walk starts along the North Downs Way and soon reaches Gatton Park, which was landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. A choice of routes through this attractive parkland ends with a steady climb through woods to a popular viewpoint at Reigate Hill and the chance for a mid-morning snack.
The fine views continue as you progress along the North Downs ridge, where Reigate Fort is a reminder that these hills were once seen as a defensive line protecting the capital. At the end of this section the open expanse of Colley Hill would make a good picnic spot. A little further on you cross the motorway to the suggested lunchtime pub in the isolated village of Mogador.
In the afternoon there are many possible routes aross Banstead Heath (part of Banstead Commons) to Walton-on-the-Hill, then a further choice of routes for the final section. At the end of the walk you get a panoramic view of the London skyline as you cross the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse.
The public footpaths across the racecourse used to be kept open even on race days, but in 2016 there were prominent notices saying that the crossings are now closed for events (and for several hours before and after). Sadly, it is no longer possible to do the full walk on Derby Day.
The North Downs Way through woods with fine views - and within Zone 6 - but does suffer from road noise. 2 shorter return-by-bus options
Surrey SWC Walk 111 • Toughness: 9/10 • Length: 15 miles (26 km)
This walk follows a section of the North Downs Way (NDW) south east of London, along the edge of the North Downs Escapement. The walk is very rural despite starting and finishing in "Zone 6". It has fine views to the south, and some pretty woods. However, the early part of the walk suffers from some noise from the M25. There are several places to cut the walk short, returning by bus (covered by Oyster).
The walk starts in Caterham (a commuter town on the edge of zone 6) and heads south along a ridge to join the North Downs Way (NDW). The main part of this walk then follows the NDW along the edge of the North Downs escarpment, through pretty woods carpeted with wild garlic and clearings with nice views to the south. There is a slight diversion from the NDW through the Tisey Plantation. The morning of the walk is quite strenuous as the path meanders up and down the side of the North Downs escarpement.
After passing Titsey, the M25 is left behind, and the walk is quiet. Lunch is at pub on the summit of Botley Hill (268m), a Marilyn and the highest point on the North Downs. Note the true summit is by a water tower/radio mast, about 1km west of the trig point.
The afternoon section continues along the NDW, through more open land and field, with views to the south
Finally, leaving the NDW, its head north to the village of Knockholt Pound (and its nice pub) and on towards Knockholt Station.
The start and end of the walk are inside Zone 6 - so you can use a 1 day Travelcard. There are also places when you can cut the walk short by using regular buses on which take Oyster cards / 1 day Travelcards, making this walk suitable for both summer and winter. On Sunday, buses are less frequent, but the lunchtime pub (a music venue) often has free live music, and its only a few km further to Westerham Hill Road's bus stop.