North Downs Way Riders’ Route: Section 3 – East Kent Loop
Tackle the second Kent leg of the North Downs Way National Trail Riders' Route, the East Kent Loop, taking you from Wye to Canterbury, Dover and back to Wye
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Our famous national trail national trail is now rideable, winding through through the Kent Downs and Surrey Hills National Landscapes.
Quiet and almost traffic free, our Riders’ Route is easy to follow, family friendly and – above all – absolutely beautiful. It can be broken up into easy to manage sections so you have the choice of testing your skills as a cyclist or horse rider on challenging hills, or just enjoying the scenery on a pretty family day out on two wheels or even four legs!
On this section of the Riders’ Route, head out from Wye and up to the Kings Woods, a 1,500 acre ancient forest that is dotted with outdoor sculptures that are part of the new Arts Trail and offers sensational views across the Downs and all the way to Canterbury. This spot is carpeted with bluebells in the spring, a sight not to be missed.
Passing by Jane Austen’s former stomping ground at Godmersham, the beautiful Tudor-framed village of Chilham awaits for refreshment. The traffic-free Pilgrim’s Cycle Trail winds easily along the Great Stour and through the Whitehall Meadows Nature Reserve and Hambrook Marshes; a great place for spotting kingfishers, herons and even the elusive snipe!
The bustling medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage Site Canterbury is a sight to behold, and is the perfect place for a pause, a pint and even a bed for the night. The cathedral, Westgate Towers and Roman ruins are a must see, and the night-time culture and hospitality are hard to resist.
After your stop in Canterbury, the route heads southeast along the ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage route that stretches from Canterbury to Rome. Heading through agricultural land and orchards, plenty of pretty villages, a Roman road will deliver you to Dover, one of Britain’s best-known ports along the south coast and home of the iconic White Cliffs and Dover Castle.
The route out of Dover passes Samphire Hoe Nature Reserve – one of the ‘youngest’ locations in England, a (concrete) sound mirror, and The Battle of Britain Memorial at Chapel-le-Ferne. Head inland and the family-run Terlingham Vineyard tempts to you stop awhile for a tour and tasting, before enjoying the fine views over Folkestone.
From here the route follows a variety of quiet roads, bridleways, and byways until delivering you to the Wye Downs Nature Reserve, where you can dismount and explore the incredible viewpoint on foot, before rolling a short distance down into the village of Wye to complete your own personal North Down’s pilgrimage.
For those looking for an easier start for section 3, follow the section 3a River Stour alternative route which heads north-east along the valley floor.
At various points along this section, there are opportunities to pick up the Cantii Way Loop.
Head to the main North Downs Way Riders’ Route page for information on the rest of the route and alternative ways of travelling the trail.
Download the GPX map for the East Kent Loop section of the North Downs Way National Trail Riders’ Route.
More route options are available to download here.