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For those looking for an easier start for the North Downs Way Riders' Route section 3, the River Stour alternative route offers an easier ride, both physically and navigationally, using good, surfaced tracks from Wye to Canterbury

Suitable for mountain bikeRegional cycle routeNational cycle routeSuitable for families
Route type
10.4 mi16.8 km
Percentage on road
Percentage off road
Kent Downs AONB
Nearest train station

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Our famous national trail national trail is now rideable, winding through through the Kent Downs and Surrey Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

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 follow the course of the River Stour as it makes use of the more gentle slopes and the better surfaced trail along the National Cycle Network no.18 route.

The River Stour, also known as the Kentish Stour, is the second longest river in Kent, rising from springs on the Greensand ridge in Lenham and flowing around 57 miles (92 kilometres) to the North Sea at Pegwell Bay, near Sandwich.

The route runs parallel to the South-Eastern Railway, which was first opened in 1846 and remains a popular link between Ashford, Canterbury and Margate, until you reach to Catha’s Seat.

These large solid oak wooden chairs have built-in parking slots for your bicycle wheels, and were built in memory of cyclist and campaigner Catherine Keegan, who had campaigned to create this cycle route between Ashford and Canterbury. So, take a moment to sit back and enjoy the spectacular countryside views from the seats provided and pay thanks to, and appreciate her efforts.

From here you can join the ‘main’ East Kent Loop section of the route by the village Chartham to continue on your journey Canterbury bound.

If you have the time and energy, make a little detour to the delightful Tudor village of Chilham, it will be well worth the effort.

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 this section of the North Downs Way National Trail Riders’ Route:

More route options are available to download here.

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