The South Downs Way is a tranquil island in the busy South East running entirely within the South Downs National Park. You can feel a million miles from the hustle and bustle of modern life, but only be a few minutes from civilisation.
The 100 mile (160 km) long South Downs Way National Trail follows old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs. The route provides the visitor with the opportunity “to get away from it all” without having to travel too far in this busy part of England.
The Trail follows the chalk ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast. At intervals the hilly downlands are broken by “wind gaps” or river valleys, mixing the ridge walking with some meandering visits to beautiful rivers such at the Cuckmere, Arun, Ouse and Meon with their associated villages. Most of the route is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. There are many historical features, including a couple of remaining round towered Saxon churches, ancient “Dew Ponds” providing water on the high Downs for cattle, cross dykes and tumulus burial sites, Bronze Age hill forts and rings.
The weather on average is some of the best you could find in the British Isles, and soft boots or even trekking shoes are generally advised, as the surfaces are often –but not universally – dry and firm. The tour is accessible easily from London and the Southeast by railway.
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Wildlife. Food and Drink
Rolling Countryside, Connecting towns and villages
Every step of the journey has been carefully planned to help you make the most of your walking adventure.
This itinerary has been created by Sherpa Expeditions who place great emphasis on researching, planning and crafting innovative itineraries to ensure you get the very best experience out of your trip.
The detailed route notes and maps provided share hidden gems and secret spots that will immerse you deep in the natural beauty and intriguing cultures of the landscapes you explore. At the end of each day, Sherpa want to make sure that you have a great night’s rest. Your accommodation is carefully selected to ensure it best reflects the character of the destination you are visiting and offers the location, service and quality standards you expect.
When you book, your trip will be fully organised by a dedicated member of Sherpa’s in-house team, so you will always know who you are dealing with.
To find out more about this itinerary and make an enquiry or a booking, click on the Enquire Now button at the top of the page. The Save to My Rucksack button allows you to save itineraries to view later, or to download them as a PDF.
This is a 10 day tour including 9 nights accommodation and 8 days of walking. The tour starts in Winchester, a cathedral city on the edge of the South Downs ending 160 kilometres (100 miles) later in the coastal town of Eastbourne.
Nine nights bed & breakfast accommodation is provided in guesthouses and country inns on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available.
Anyone who is reasonably fit can walk the South Downs Way. The tour is graded as ‘Moderate’ with straight forward undulating walking, often on farm tracks and chalk down. Each day ranges from 9.5 miles / 15.2km to 18 miles / 29 km. From 4 to 7 hours walking.
The Trail can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However it does get busier during school holidays and on weekends between May and September you should expect to come across larger organised events.
You’ll be spoiled for choice with so much great local food and drink on offer. You will pass through many small villages and towns with good pubs and cafes.
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
Drag the map and use the zoom tool to navigate.
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