It's not necessary to travel far from the large conurbations of the south-east to enjoy fantastic long-distance trails. The North Downs Way begins at Farnham in Surrey and, after following the chalk ridge of the North Downs for 156 miles it reaches the coast of the English Channel at Dover in Kent. Despite the extremely high density of the population in this area, it manages to maintain a very rural feel for almost its entire length.
Beginning at Farnham in Surrey, the trail soon leaves the banks of the river Wey and heads through open fields dotted with small patches of woodland and common land on the way to the pretty village of Puttenham and the beautiful St. Martha's Hill with its eponymous church perched on the summit offering fine views over Chilworth to the south.
The path drops steeply down from here and then climbs again almost immediately to reach high ground and a long wooded section through Newlands Corner, Netley Heath and onwards to the church of St. Barnabas at Ranmore Common, all the while offering splendid views over to the South Downs. After another drop in height, the trail again finds high ground at Box Hill before dropping down through old quarries to the base of the slope.
A climb up Colley Hill and Reigate Hill offers great views over the town of Reigate and from here a short urban section takes the trail through a school and golf club, and over a motorway before another long section of beautifully wooded hills brings us into the county of Kent.
More gentle slopes lead down to the village of Wye on the Great Stour with its pretty village green, church and college. Just past Wye, a short section of spectacular steep valleys cut deeply into the chalk ridge, one of which is know as the Devil's Kneeding Trough. The villages of Stowting and Etchinghill are soon followed by bird's eye views over the huge Channel Tunnel rail terminal and what used to be the important Channel ferry port of Folkestone. It's hardly a peaceful setting but the place is quite a sight nonetheless. From here, you can also see the Folkestone White Horse carved into the chalk slope overlooking the town.
Here also is the ancient ring and bailey castle of Caesar's Camp standing directly above the rail tunnel entrance and the twin tunnels of the A20 road. Soon the trail joins the famous chalk sea cliffs above The Warren just to the east of Folkestone and these cliffs run from here all the way to Dover, making a stunning finish to the trail as it drops down through Western Heights into the centre of the town of Dover itself.