Walking Holidays in England

The Path to Canterbury

The North Downs have acted as a highway since before Neolithic times, but became busier following the murder of Archbishop Becket in 1170. By the eighteenth century the term 'Pilgrims' Way' referred to ancient trackways in the south of England used by pilgrims journeying to Becket's shrine. Although these routes radiated from Canterbury they did not include the route taken by Chaucers' pilgrims in the 'Canterbury Tales' but were prehistoric tracks used by pilgrims travelling to or from the continent via Dover along the Via Francigena. The principal pilgrim route ran between Winchester and Canterbury, much of which is now busy with traffic and therefore is no longer a viable walking route. Nonetheless, our route, a section of the North Downs Way, does coincide with some of the places that Chaucer's pilgrims visited and parts of the Pilgrim Way marked on maps. Overall, this is a gentle walk, with beautiful views below you across the 'Garden of England'; as well as a historic route leading to England’s most eminent cathedral city.

PRICE: £495.00 per person based on two people sharing


4 nights accommodation in B & Bs with private bathrooms, luggage transportation on walking days, route notes and maps. UPGRADES TO HOTELS POSSIBLE IN SOME INSTANCES. THIS SECTION MAY ALSO BE WALKED OVER 4 DAYS/5 NIGHTS – please ask.

Extra nights

Extra nights possible along the route – please ask. If you wish to do the full NORTH DOWNS WAY from Farnham to Canterbury, please contact us. Similarly, we also offer the CANTERBURY LOOP (Canterbury to Sheperdswell 10.4 miles, Sheperdswell to Dover 8.3  miles, Dover to Etching Hill 13 miles, Etching Hill to Boughton Lees 11.5 miles, Boughton Lees to Canterbury 13.1 miles)


Day 1: Arrive and overnight Rochester.

This historic town has a magnificent cathedral (the second oldest in England) and a well-preserved Norman castle, as well as many associations with Charles Dickens. Undoubtedly Chaucer's pilgrims would have come through Rochester, close to which the North Downs Way passes today.

Day 2: Rochester to Hollingbourne.

Cross Wouldham Common, pass Kit's Coty Neolithic burial chamber and the White horse standing stone along paths and fields to Boxley church. East of Kits Coty a long stretch with distant views delivers the North Downs Way to Detling Hill, beyond which a sudden return to open country shows the vast expanse of the eastern Weald spread below. The trail tucks round the outline of Thurnham Castle, sloping down to rejoin the Pilgrims Way at Hollingbourne.
15 miles/25 kms

Day 3: Hollingbourne to Boughton Lees

Hollingbourne to Boughton Lees follows a gentle route for many miles above Harrietsham and Lenham, passing close to Charing – a village well worth making a short diversion to visit. Finally, a long stretch of the original Pilgrim Way before overnight at Boughton Lees. 12 miles/19kms

Day 4: Boughton Lees to Canterbury

The northern spur option from Boughton Lees visits Chilham, one of Kent’s most attractive villages, then to Old Wives Lees, passing through acre after acre of orchard country on the way to Canterbury. Overnight Canterbury.
13 miles/21 kms

Day 5: Departure

Getting there and away: Rochester is linked directly by train with London (Victoria or Charing Cross) – journey time 45 to 60 minutes. Canterbury to London (Victoria or Charing Cross) takes 1 hour 30 minutes.

When to go

Any day (subject to accommodation availability). Best time late April through October.          

Walking holiday

Walking Holidays

Walking Holidays

Guided Walking Holiday

Holiday Walks

Walking Holidays

Walking Holidays

Walking Holidays

Click the edit button and enter your content here