The South Downs Way is a popular National Trail. It covers a glorious 100-mile stretch between Winchester and Eastbourne. This walking holiday is based in the South Downs National Park. An easy walk passing ancient and historic tracks, linking wooded areas to delightful villages and river valleys. The majority of the South Downs Way is shared by walkers, ramblers, horse riders and cyclists. Walkers following the South Downs escarpment will have wide views across farmlands and rolling downs to the sea at Eastbourne.
Five main rivers have cut through the chalk of the South Downs. The Cuckmere, the Ouse, the Adur, the Arun and the Meon. These rivers create valleys along its length, where you will descend and climb out on quite steep tracks and paths. For the most part the walk remains on the crest of the escarpment some 650 feet (200m) above sea level. Throughout your journey on the South Downs Way, the quality of this walking holiday route is first rate. The path is well maintained and waymarked.
Guide books will describe the ever-present history which is your companion along this walking route. Bronze Age and Iron Age primitive farm sites, long barrows and hill forts dotted along the ridge. There is something in the order of 400 Bronze Age burial mounds along the South Downs Way.
Trade routes engineered by the Romans across the South Downs were so advanced in their methods of construction that some of these paths have been adopted as modern ‘rights of way’. In places, you will see large wooden signposts bearing directions to Londinium (London), and Noviomagus (Chichester). All evidence of Roman past.
Starting your walking holiday in Winchester might call for a ‘Rest Day’ before you head off! A walk-up St Giles Hill offers spectacular views over the City. Why not visit Winchester Cathedral, offering an insight into a whole range of treasures including Jane Austen’s tomb and the Winchester Bible. For fans of Arthurian legend, the Great Hall of Winchester Castle features the Round Table.
Beacon Hill is a National Nature Reserve on an Iron Age hill fort. Nature lovers will be surprised to learn that there are 13 different varieties of orchid growing here. Should you be able to see above the head high cow parsley flanking the path above Exton, there are excellent views across to the Isle of Wight (don’t forget your binoculars!).
If you like photography, and your walking holiday is a challenge to get that perfect shot, then the pretty little village of Amberley with its beautiful thatched cottages is a great place to rest up. There is a museum here and a Castle, and just a few miles away is Arundel Castle. The Clayton windmills, known as Jack & Jill are a much-loved feature on the South Downs Way, built in 1866 and 1821 respectively.
The Devils Dyke is Britain’s largest single coombe of chalk karst; a steep dry valley which covers over 183 acres. The whole area here is now in the care of the National Trust.
Don’t be surprised to see Paragliders, like giant butterflies on Bostal Hill, which also claims yet another huge panoramic view.
Your last climb on the South Downs Way is up to Beachy Head. Some 536 feet above the waves below. As you descend into Eastbourne you will arrive at a small café, where a notice board announces the official end of your walk. Time for a cup of tea! Should you decide on a Rest day or so at the end of your walking holiday, then Eastbourne has an array of exploration waiting for you. The Redoubt Fortress, shops, parks and gardens – not to mention Museums and Galleries will all round off your walking holiday adventure.
The Walking Holiday Company also offer the South West Coast Path in the southern area of England. Please contact us for details.
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