The South Downs National Park reaches from the ancient cathedral cities of Winchester and Chichester to the coast, taking in the lively and traditional seaside resorts of Brighton and Eastbourne, and the iconic shining white cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters. The views are panoramic.
Take the South Downs Way is a 100 mile footpath incorporating fifteen different national trails that run across the National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne. The majority of this fantastic path is a bridleway so it can be enjoyed by cyclists and horse riders. One of the most famous punctuations of the South Downs is Brighton Racecourse. Be sure to check for race meetings because the excuse for a flutter and a meal is a great way to celebrate making the Brighton milestone of your trip. For the most part the trail avoids roads and traffic, so you can make the most of the silence and wildlife.
The South Downs has some of the highest chalk cliffs in the UK. They also count as some of the most beautiful and famous. Seen for miles, travel to Seaford to get the best photographs of the Seven Sisters.
“The Downs, too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness, if only they would look,” Virginia Woolf
They are a collection of hills shorn off at the sea edge that give the illusion of being seven different cliffs, hence the name. Beachy Head to the west is equally famous for its staggering cliff top views. There is a pub / restaurant at the top if you fancy stopping for lunch. Take care when walking here, as the cliffs are sheer and consist of eroded chalk in places.
The ridgeline has been a popular trail since the early days. There are examples early activity along the full-length of the ridge. The early travellers would have seen the same Bronze Age barrows at Old Winchester Hill, Chanctonbury Ring and the Iron Age hillforts, and had a hand in lighting the beacons at Ditchling and Butser Hill. Look out for the stone memorial for all the Indian soldiers who perished in WW1 known as the Chattri. Birdlife is prolific along the South Downs Way, don’t mistake the paragliders for buzzards.
The painter John Constable, cited the Devil’s Dyke as one of the grandest views in the world and you may well agree. There are way points to join the path all along the path. Consult the Towns and Downs Wanderer website for a comprehensive list of drop off and pick up points, as well as car parks.
There’s a number of great places to make your holiday base within the South Downs National Park. You’re never far from the sea or a place of interest.
We have a number of lovely holiday cottages along close to the South Downs. Why not visit our collection to feel inspired?