The North Downs are a range of low chalk hills extending west-east across the counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Kent in south-east England, south of London. They are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and locations such as Box Hill are popular recreational areas for Londoners. Significant towns such as Fareham, Guildford, Dorking, Reigate and Maidstone have grown at points where rivers have formed gaps in the hills. The Downs meet the sea at the port of Dover, where the form the famous White Clifs of Dover.
The chalk of the Downs has long been exploited as an economic resource, particularly in Kent, and chalk quarries for the purpose of lime extraction punctuate the hills. As the steep escarpment of the hills faces south, the North Downs were also seen during the Second World War as a possible 'stop line' to halt a German invasion of Britain from the south coast; numerous concrete fortifications can still be seen along their length.
The Pilgrims Way, a traditional route to the tomb of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, runs along the escarpment of the North Downs. A similar route is taken by the North Downs Way, a long distance recreational footpath or 'National Trail'.