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
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