England has a network of common-law footpaths and riding routes, all maintained by the regional authorities. In the last few years, several national trails have also been developed, and the route of the Via Francigena in England runs over one of these, the North Downs Way, whiich follows a line of chalk hills from Canterbury, the starting point of the route, to Dover, Englnd’s closest point to France. http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/north-downs-way

Canterbury cathedral is the headquarters of the Anglican Church, which in time expanded to Britain’s many colonies. It is in Canterbury town, a popular tourist destination with other religious buildings such as St Augustine’s Abbey, as well as the cathedral.

In 2001 the Via Francigena Kilometre Zero Stone was laid in the cathedral grounds to mark the start of the route to Rome.


Canterbury is the site of a great medieval cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Church of England. At the time of Bishop Sigeric, the church in England was subordinate to the Church of Rome, so the archbishop had to be confirmed in office by the Pope. In 1534, due to disagreements with the Pope, Henry VIII declared himself head of the English church, which became independent, and from then was known as the Church of England. Many English monasteries were closed, and pilgrimage to Rome almost ceased. However, Canterbury continued to be the headquarters of the Anglican Church to this day.

Between the mid 14th and mid 16th C, Calais belonged to England and, with Dover, controlled the Straits of Dover, and the shipping through this narrow waterway. This was especially important for the Spanish, who had colonies in the Netherlands which they could only conveniently reach via the Straits of Dover.


Canterbury City Council

The Via Francigena runs only through the county of Kent; Canterbury is the County Town. It begins at Canterbury cathedral and follows the North Downs Way National Trail to Dover.

The route mainly follows rolling grassland and tracks between fields, passing small villages and some woodland. In places the sea is visible ahead of you. Two places of interest are Higham Park and Waldershare Park. The final stretch is over the White Cliffs Country Trail, passing Dover Castle, which takes you into Dover and the sea front.

Canterbury to Dover

2 stages;

Canterbury to Shepherdswell; Shepherdswell to Dover. Total 18.9 miles / 30 km

http://www.northdownsway.co.uk, http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/north-downs-way

Interesting Places

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Cathedral is both a holy place and part of a World Heritage Site.


St Augustine’s abbey

This great abbey, marking the rebirth of Christianity in southern England, was founded shortly after AD 597 by St Augustine. Now mainly ruined, it’s maintained and opened to the public by English Heritage.


Higham Park

Higham Park is a neoclassical style house and gardens, located at Bridge, Kent, 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Canterbury. It was built in 1320, rebuilt in 1768 and renovated in 1910.


Waldershare Park

This huge private house (owned by the Earls of Guildford) was built in 1712 and the grounds laid out soon after. It was gutted by fire in 1913, restored, and is now a Grade 1 historic building, divided into apartments.


Dove Castle

The most iconic of all English fortresses, it has commanded the gateway to the realm for nine centuries. Now open to the public and managed by English Heritage.



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