Things to do | Itineraries | South Downs National Trail walking itinerary

South Downs National Trail walking itinerary

6 Days

Winchester - Exton - Queen Elizabeth Country Park - Cocking - Upwaltham - Amberley - Washington - Devil's Dyke - Pyecombe - Ditchling Beacon - Housedean Farm - Alfriston - Jevington - Eastbourne

Distance:
92 miles (148 km)
Airports:
Bournemouth/Southampton/Brighton

Plan your route: VisitBritain Journey Planner

The South Downs Way National Trail follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment of the rolling South Downs. The trail runs from King Alfred's historic capital of Winchester to the spectacular chalk cliffs at Beachy Head near Eastbourne. If you like great views, wildlife, prehistoric monuments, and pretty villages, this is the trail for you.

Day 1: Winchester - Exton - Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Winchester - Exton: 12 miles (19 km)
Exton - Queen Elizabeth Country Park: 10 miles (16 km)
Totals for Day: 22 miles (35 km) 

Winchester

The city of Winchester is just 1 hour away from London. The former seat of King Alfred the Great, Winchester is England's ancient capital. The city is best known for its 11th century Cathedral and Great Hall, which for over 600 years has housed the mysterious Authurian round table. The birthplace of cricket and resting place of Jane Austen, Winchester is well worth a visit.

 

Must see & do:

Hospital of St Cross | The Westgate Museum | Winchester City Museum | Wolvesey Castle

Exton

The first stop on the trail is the pretty village of Exton, in Hampshire. Sitting on the River Meon, Exton is the perfect place to stop for a rest. Visit the 13th century St Peter & St Paul church, which is situated in the middle of the village, which is part of the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Must see & do:

Bishop's Waltham Palace | Hinton Ampner | Holy Trinity Church | Bishop's Waltham Museum

Queen Elizabeth Country Park

End the day with a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Hampshire's biggest country park has 1,400 acres of open woodland and 20 miles of trails for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The park also has a visitor centre, which houses an audiovisual theatre and activity centre.

 

Must see & do:

Goss & Crested China Centre & Museum | Staunton Country Park | Butser Ancient Farm

Day 2: Queen Elizabeth Country Park - Cocking - Upwaltham

Queen Elizabeth Country Park - Cocking: 13 miles (22 km)
Cocking - Upwaltham: 5 miles (8 km)
Totals for Day: 18 miles (29 km)

Cocking

The next stop on the trail is the small village of Cocking in the South Downs. Cocking is well worth a visit as there's evidence of Bronze Age settlement in the village. It was also home to the Romans, Saxons, Normans, and Cluniac monks. Drop into one of the local pubs for a well-deserved rest.

Must see & do:

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum | West Dean Gardens | Goodwood Racecourse

Upwaltham

The hamlet of Upwaltham is where today's walk ends. This pretty hamlet is a great place to relax after your long walk. Visit Upwaltham Farm, a traditional Sussex farmstead. The village is also home to a 12th century church that is well worth a visit.

 

Must see & do:

Bignor Roman Villa | Cass Sculpture Foundation

Day 3: Upwaltham - Amberley - Washington

Upwaltham - Amberley: 6 miles (10 km)
Amberley - Washington: 6 miles (10 km)
Totals for Day: 12 miles (20 km)

Amberley

The village of Amberley is the first stop on today's walk, and is close to the town of Stroud. Visit nearby Amberley Castle, a historical treasure that was hidden away for 900 years. Through the Portcullis and 60ft curtain walls, you'll find beautiful landscaped gardens and medieval architecture.

Must see & do:

Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre | Arundel Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre | Parham House & Gardens | Amberley Village Pottery

Washington

Washington is a new town, and was based on an old coal-mining village. The original pit-head buildings and mining apparatus used in the village are now a museum. Visit Washington Hall, a 17th century manor house where George Washington's ancestors lived. Here you can see displays on George Washington and explore the tranquil Jacobean garden.

 

Must see & do:

St Mary's House and Gardens | Lancing College Chapel | Steyning Museum

Day 4: Washington - Devil's Dyke - Pyecombe - Ditchling Beacon

Washington - Devil's Dyke: 11 miles (18 km)
Devil's Dyke - Pyecombe: 2 miles (3 km)
Pyecombe - Ditchling Beacon: 3 miles (5 km)
Totals for Day: 16 miles (26 km)

Devil's Dyke

The Devil's Dyke is just outside Brighton, and is an Ice Age dry valley. It's home to a number of plants and butterflies, and the view from the summit is spectacular. Here, you'll see the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle, the site of a deserted village, Bronze Age mounds, and lime kilns.

Must see & do:

Marlipins Museum | Brighton Toy & Model Museum | Foredown Tower Countryside Centre

Pyecombe

This small village in West Sussex is the next place you'll pass on the trail. The village is steeped in ancient shepherding history. Stop for a drink at The Plough Inn, which was renowned as a staging post for passing horse-drawn coaches in Victorian times, and was used as a temporary mortuary during the Second World War.

 

Must see & do:

Stoneywish Nature Reserve | Newtimber Place | Ditchling Museum | Jill Windmill

Ditchling Beacon

Ditchling Beacon is an early Iron Age hillfort that sits on the South Downs. It offers some of the best views of Sussex and has a dewpond at the summit, making it a great place to stop today's walk. The name comes from a time when it was one of a chain of beacons across the south of England, used to signal an attack.

Must see & do:

Garden Pride Garden Centre | Bookers Vineyard | Barlow Gallery of Chinese Art | McBean's Orchids

Day 5: Ditchling Beacon - Housedean Farm - Alfriston

Ditchling Beacon - Alfriston: 18 miles (29 km)
Totals for Day: 18 miles (29 km)

Alfriston

The next stop on the trail is the historic village of Alfriston. Visit the Alfriston Clergy House which was the first building bought by the National Trust, for £10. From here you can see the stunning views across the Cuckmere Valley. Also visit the market cross, one of only 2 surviving examples, and the Star Inn, built in 1520.

 

Must see & do:

Michelham Priory | English Wine Centre | Drusillas Park | Knockhatch Adventure Park | Glynde Place

Day 6: Alfriston - Jevington - Eastbourne

Alfriston - Jevington: 4 miles (6 km)
Jevington - Eastbourne: 4 miles (6 km)
Totals for Day: 8 miles (12 km) 

Jevington

You're now on the last stretch of the trail, and after a short walk from Alfriston, you'll reach the small village of Jevington. The village church was built by the Saxons in AD900, and still stands today. Stop at the Hungry Monk, and have a slice of Banoffi Pie - it was, after all, invented in this very restaurant!

Must see & do:

Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway | English Wine Centre | Seven Sisters Sheep Centre

Eastbourne

The South Downs Way National Trail finishes on the palm tree lined Eastbourne promenade. Eastbourne is a traditional seaside resort with 5 miles of unspoilt beaches, 4 golf courses, and a Blue Flag clean sea. While you're there, enjoy the town's watersports or sea a West End show at one of the 5 theatres.

 

Must see & do:

Eastbourne Pier | Eastbourne Heritage Centre | Treasure Island | Beachy Head Countryside Centre


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