Hiking The South Downs Way National Trail

The 2nd most popular hiking trail in UK.

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The South Downs Way is an ancient public right of way blazed in blue (its a bridleway - OK for horses & bikes) that runs from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in Sussex, a total of around 105 miles. The route follows the crest of the South Downs, a range of chalk hills about 500-800 feet high that runs parallel to the English Channel. The route is entirely off road. The path drops down to sea level to cross 4 river valleys, with the cumulative climb being around 10,000 feet. The path is mainly chalky, but liberally strewn with nice, big hard lumps of flint. When you get to the top of some of the better climbs, youll know what is meant by a breathtaking view! The chalk downland drains water quickly, so its possible to hike most of the route all year round. Best hiked west to east starting in Winchester.

The South Downs Way runs parallel to North Downs Way, which is about 35 miles north. There is a link to it at Brighton called Downs Link.

Overall, South Downs Way National Trail is the 2nd most popular hiking trail of all 16 hikes in UK.


Local Contact(s):  SDW Officer 01273 625242 or 01903-741234; Winchester TIC 01962 840500; Eastborne TIC 01323 411400; British Tourism (800) 462-2748.

Best Season:  Any

Average Difficulty:  Moderate

Base Camp:  Winchester Youth Hostel 01962 853723; Eastborne Youth Hostel 01323 721081

Date Published:  12/31/2015

Date Updated:  6/24/2016

ID:  11487


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For hiking the South Downs Way National Trail in UK, our printable trail guides offers trail descriptions, maps, lodging suggestions, driving directions, levels of difficulty and points-of-contact.