South Downs Way, England
South Downs Way, England
The South Downs Way is a long distance trail running for 160 kilometres (100 miles) in the south of England. It starts in Winchester, England’s first capital, travels through the English countryside, and ends at the white chalk cliffs at Eastbourne in East Sussex. This popular trail for both walkers and bikers boasts of wildlife, prehistoric ruins, postcard-perfect scenery, cosy pubs, and charming villages, as it winds through the white cliffs and chalk escarpment of the South Downs in Sussex.
A walking tour of South Downs Way is a great option for those looking for walking holidays and a chance to be in the great outdoors–but didn’t want to be too far from the city. The routes that now form the South Downs Way have been in use for 8,000 years, taken by people back in the Mesolithic era as the elevated route was drier compared to the wet lowlands. And indeed, this is a beautiful undulating route, with plenty of ascents and descents, providing you about 3,800 metres (12,600 feet) of climb.
Most walkers take eight or nine days to cover the whole trail, walking at a pace of 25 kilometres (12-15 miles) a day and taking advantage of the accommodation and cottages available in villages along the trail. On a bike, it will take you about 2 or 3 days of off road cycling.
The South Downs Way was approved as a National Trail in March 1963 and opened to the public in July 1972. The National Trails are 16 long distance foothpaths and bridleways (horse paths) in England and Wales, jointly administered by an agency of the UK government and a Welsh Government-sponsored body.
Walking the trail won’t be a problem if you can comfortably walk 20 kilometres in a day. Consider doing a few long walks prior to walking the South Downs Way and work up to the daily kilometre requirement.
Getting to the start of the South Downs Way, either in the east or west, is easy with public transport. Public transport is also recommended as car parks are small in the South Downs. There are also accommodations that offer luggage transfers, so you can walk comfortably as your bags are moved from one accommodation to the next along the route. The South Downs Way is also signposted, so you’ll know which paths you can legally access. A tour operator will be able to provide guidance, as well as a map and a guide with knowledge regarding the area and the route’s long history.
If coming from Winchester, the first part of the trail will take you from England’s first seat of power to the Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve. Take time to explore the city before heading into the rolling countryside, which will take you through quiet farms and country lanes.
We walk a section of the South Downs Way on our Rural Britain walking tour. We start at Firle Beacon in Sussex, taking us from high viewing points through grazing lands until we drop down into the village of Alfriston in Cuckmere Valley. After lunch, we visit the coast and the Seven Sisters cliffs with a walk on a section between Beachy Head and East Dean via Birling Gap. Click here to see the full itinerary.
Articles about Great Britain published by Odyssey Traveller
The following list of articles published by odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Britain when visiting;
- A Traveller’s Guide to Medieval Chester
- Roman Roads in Britain
- Understanding British Churches
- Medieval British life
- Icons of British Villages
- Studying Gargoyles and Grotesques
- New Discoveries About Britain’s Stone Circles
- Victorian Country Life
- Britain’s Neolithic past
- Lumps and Bumps, How to Read the British Landscape
- The Lake District Poets
- English Village History
- Britain’s National Trust
External articles to assist you on your walk in Britain
- South Downs Way (National Trails)
- South Downs Way Trail Information
- South Downs Way Route Description
- What It’s Like to Walk the South Downs Way
- National trust; Britain’s best walks with Julia Bradbury
- National Parks of Britain.
- Ten books about Walking in Britain from the Guardian
- UNESCO World Heritage sites of Britain
A walking tour into England, Scotland and Wales provides small group journeys with breathtaking scenery to destinations such as Snowdonia national park , the UNESCO world heritage site Hadrians wall and the lake district. each day tour provides authentic experiences often off the beaten path from our local guides.