Join our Ambassadors Team
Cutting across the South East of England, the North Downs Way National Trail offers walkers 153 miles (246 km) of spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious countryside all easily accessible from London.
The Trail passes through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs and visitors can discover a range of wonderful history, art, nature, local produce and much more on a walk, run and cycle or why not stay awhile in one of the nearby towns, cities or campsites.
With so much to share and even more coming soon as part of the EXPERIENCE project we're delighted to re-launch our North Downs Way Ambassadors Programme. It includes free training both online and in person for those looking to turn their walking hobby into professional high quality engaging tours along the fantastic North Downs Way National Trail.
We'd like to welcome people from different backgrounds and abilities across all areas along the North Downs Way in Kent and Surrey. So if you have a passion for walking and/or your local area near the trail that you would like to share with visitors and locals please read on or download our application form and apply by 5pm on the 20th August!...
What is a North Downs Way Ambassador?
Our ambassadors are absolutely amazing, they love promoting the trail, enjoy spending as much time as possible outdoors and often have a range of top tips, interesting facts and local knowledge up their sleeves.
There is no one correct way to lead a guided walk. Different leaders have different styles which will suit different walkers. Some may focus on the wildlife, the plants or even some quite specialised element of natural history whereas others may concentrate on the nearby pubs and vineyards along the way! Essentially, the wider the range of walks that are delivered by North Downs Way Ambassadors the better as it provides more and varied ways for people to enjoy the trail.
There are many reasons why people decide to become North Downs Way Ambassadors, here are just a few...
Some of our ambassadors provide periodic tours just for the love of it.
Some want to learn more about the local area and offer value added tours for their guests.
Some create guided tour businesses using their knowledge and charge for their services.
What does the training include?
We've teamed up with experts and partners from across the region to give you a real taste of not only the wonderful views and routes available but also what you could offer in addition including local history, culture, geology, food, drink and arts all packaged into easy to digest formats and ending (hopefully) with you receiving official recognition as a North Downs Way Ambassador.
Richard Betts from Pied A Terre Adventures is our training leader and runs his own walking tour company that provides exclusive, tailored walking and adventurous experiences throughout the UK and Internationally so he definately knows his stuff!
This online session will include an overview of the programme aims, expectations and what key elements make a North Downs Way Ambassador really engaging. Plus some practical tips from someone already on the programme.
Learn more about the North Downs Way and what makes it special all at your own speed and available to view when you are. Covering topics as diverse as heritage, culture, wildlife, nature, sustainability and risk management.
Time to get outside and enjoy a walk along the North Downs Way. Split into several locations you'll join the group local to you and have the chance to meet existing ambassadors and try some of the walk for yourself.
An information pack for you to take away to help you remember the key facts from the programme, tips on how to run tours and additional support available as well as links to access information if you need a refresher.
At the end of your training you'll get the chance to show us what you can do with a home paper, assessment on your ability to plan a walk and provide a thorough risk assessment as well as leading an actual walk along the trail.
Watch our Webinar
Thanks to everyone who joined our Q&A webinar session last week. If you missed it don't worry, you can watch it here or download our presentation pack here to learn more about what a North Downs Way Ambassador is, what the programme involves and hear answers to the questions raised. If you have additional questions check out our Q&A section below or email Richard Betts from Pied A Terre Adventures by clicking here.
Apply by 20th August
Sound good? Apply by the 20th August for your chance to join our free ambassadors training programme. Simply download our application form. We'll let you know if you've been accepted onto the programme by 27th August. Online & practical training dates are in September and October with 'graduation' in November, see below for details.
Questions & Answers
Read on to see answers to common questions and a summary of those asked as part of our Q&A webinar. Find out more about the planned training dates, expectations of our ambassadors and what you might need to think about when applying or joining the programme.
More about your Trainer
After spending 15 years in the fire service, Richard Betts co-founded Pied A Terre Adventures, with wife Kirstie, in 2011. With more than 20 years’ experience of exploring mountains, his passion for the great outdoors is clear for everyone to see.
Richard (he's the one on the left!) holds an impressive number of professional outdoor qualifications, including Walking Group Leader, Hill & Moorland Leader, Nordic Walking Instructor, Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health, NNAS Tutor Award, Mountain Leader and International Mountain Leader (IML). As Pied A Terre Adventure’s Lead Guide, he has led many walks, guiding and training adventurers in both the UK and overseas.
Richard loves nothing more than sharing his joy of the outdoors with others whether that's helping them to overcome challenges on their adventures or spending time learning about our wonderful National Trails!
Join us for a combination of online and practical training sessions. Online sessions will be recorded for viewing later if you can't make it and you can choose the practical and assessment sessions nearest to you.
8th September - Online Welcome
Attend if you can or watch later...
14th September - Trail Talk 1 (recorded)
16th September - Trail Talk 2 (recorded)
Choose the session nearest you...
21st September - Practical in Surrey
23rd September - Practical in West Kent
24th September - Practical in East Kent
14th October - Assessment in Guildford
15th October - Assessment in Oxted
19th October - Assessment in Lenham
20th October - Assessment in Shepherdswell
21st October - Assessment in Dover
2nd November - Graduation!
What happens next?
Once the training is complete and you've graduated with flying colours we would love our North Downs Way Ambassadors to lead and/or create wonderful walks along the trail, build itineraries alongside local businesses and even create new rural experiences. As a start we'll ask you to join our ambassadors facebook group to hear about walking guide opportunities and to share your planned news and events with the wider ambassadors team.
As part of the Experience project we also have a programme of business and individual support available for those wanting to turn their walking hobby into a sustainable tourism business or for existing businesses wanting to offer more experiential options to their customers.
This includes marketing support and promotion with us and our partners in Kent and Surrey so please do let us know your plans and feel free to apply for that from September.
Questions and Answers
Q. Is this a completely new initiative?
A. No we have a number of ambassadors who already help during walking festivals or deliver their own guided walks and tours along the trail. The last training and recruitment programme was run in 2018.
Q. Do you have any links with the British Horse Society?
A. Yes we have a relationship with the British Horse Society and are in discussions with them relating to opportunities from the Experience project.
Q. Any existing ebike tours along the route? Any cycle maps?
A. We are working closely with Cycling UK who are another project partner to promote existing cycling routes and create new ones. More information to be shared on that soon or for now see here
Q. If we can’t attend the 8th September due to prior commitment can we watch after?
A. It's great if you can make the intro as you can meet your fellow cohort, but we will record it and you can watch it afterwards.
Q. How many people are you going to take on?
A. We'll take on a maximum of 50 new ambassadors.
Q. Can I watch the online training sessions retrospectively?
A. These sessions will be recorded so you can watch them afterwards although you would have more limited opportunity to ask questions in that case.
Q. Is there an age restriction in joining?
A. There is no specific age restriction but we would need to review on a case by case basis for under 18's to confirm legal requirements.
Q. Is there a fee for the course?
A. No the training programme is completely free all we ask for is your time.
Q. If the dates don't fit for this iteration, when do you see the next cohort starting?
A. We don't have any current plans for another training programme but will consider it if demand is high.
Q. How would holiday makers access our offered hikes?
A. We're in the process of working on our website and will feature upcoming hikes, walks, runs or cycles from our ambassadors on both the Kent Downs and National Trails websites. We are also working with partners such as Visit Kent, Explore Kent, Surrey Hills AONB, Visit Surrey and Explore Surrey regarding promotion of activities.
Q. What insurance do we need?
A. This topic will all be covered as part of the training programme as well as risk assessment, DBS etc and will be specific to your plans after the programme.
Q. What commitment beyond training is required?
A. We would ask that ambassadors will go on to run guided walks along the trail either as part of organised walking festivals, local outdoor events, as the start of a brand new business or just for fun! You are free to do as much or little as you choose but we would love to hear about your plans.
Q. Are you working with local bus companies to make sure they continue with routes?
A. We are working with rail & bus companies where we can to encourage use of public transport.
Q. Does this ambassador training itself hold an accreditation that we can advertise ourselves as an official guide for the route etc?
A. You would be able to call yourself an accredited North Downs Way Ambassador as a mark of quality. This programme will give you a best practise standard but is not an official qualification. We are in discussions with National Trails regarding the use of the official logo so hope permission will be given.
Learn more about the North Downs Way
Join our North Downs Way mailing list to be first to hear about the exciting developments on the way along the trail, top tips for getting out and about, nearby attractions and events and much more.
We will treat your information with respect. The Kent Downs AONB will use information you provide in this form to contact you by email about our latest North Downs Way and Kent Downs news and events. We will also share your contact details with Pied-a-Terre for the purposes of progressing your application and/or organising the ambassadors programme. They won't use your details for marketing purposes unless you give consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in any email or by emailing email@example.com. For more information about our privacy practices please visit this page.
More Opportunites for Business Development...
The programme is funded by the EXPERIENCE project which is promoting sustainable tourism along the North Downs Way. We are also looking for businesses, organisations or individuals that are particularly interested in nature, landscape and outdoor activities such as walking, cycling or equine. You may be an established business wishing to connect with the countryside and outdoors more. Or you may have little or no experience in the tourist trade, but you may have other skills such as photography, crafts, local history, wildlife, nature expertise, local knowledge, or be interested in using the land you farm and experience you have for more diverse activities.
We will support you to develop new experiences, which use your expertise and passion. If you want to know more you can watch our introductory webinar on this page or on You Tube through this link.
How is EXPERIENCE funded?
EXPERIENCE is a €23m project co-funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, which has committed €16m from the European Regional Development. Projects are funded in six areas across England and France: Norfolk, Kent, Cornwall, Pas-de-Calais, Compiègne and Brittany. Close collaboration across the six regional projects ensures insights and best practice are shared.
EXPERIENCE in Kent is match funded by:
Ashford Borough Council
Canterbury City Council
Dover District Council
Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Gravesham Borough Council
Kent County Council
Thanet District Council
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Swale Borough Council