Running the South Downs Way

The South Downs Way presents a diverse range of running routes to suit various preferences and fitness levels. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a casual jogger, you’ll find a path that matches your stride. The well-maintained trails, gentle ascents, and descents make it an ideal playground for runners of all abilities.

As you embark on your running adventure, prepare to be captivated by the enchanting vistas that unfold before you. The undulating hills, expansive meadows, and rolling farmlands provide a breathtaking backdrop as you effortlessly traverse the South Downs Way. Feel the wind on your face and soak in the panoramic views that stretch across the horizon, offering glimpses of the serene coastline, charming villages, and lush green countryside.

Route Sections (8 days)

Winchester to Exton

The route from Winchester to Exton includes scenic views from the top of Cheesefoot Head. You also pass through the pretty village of Chilcomb and the route ends in the village of Exton.

Exton to Buriton

Continuing from Exton when walking the South Downs Way, this route takes you up Old Winchester Hill, Salt Hill and finally Butser Hill - one of the highest points in Hampshire.

Buriton to Cocking

Probably one of the most scenic stretches - this route takes you from Buriton, up to Beacon Hill and down to Cocking with some spectacular views from Harting Down.

Cocking to Amberley

This stretch of the trail passes through the Slindon estate and up Bignor Hill. The route finishes in the pretty village of Amberley along the River Arun.

Amberley to Upper Beeding

Walk from Amberley through Washington and along to Chanctonbury Hill. Here you descend into Bramber and Upper Beeding.

Upper Beeding to Kingston

This stretch covers Devils Dyke with it's spectacular views and you walk right past the Jack and Jill windmills.

Kingston to Alfriston

If you choose to walk the South Downs Way from Kingston, the route passes through many fields for quite some way before descending into Alfriston.

Alfriston to Eastbourne

When walking the last leg of the South Downs Way you will witness some incredible views of the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head lighthouse. You finish the South Downs Way in Eastbourne!

The Serpent's Trail

This well-established trail showcases the diverse landscapes of the South Downs, including rolling hills, woodlands, meadows, and ridges. The route starts off in Blackdown Haslemere then curls through towns such as Liphook and Liss like a snake, hence the name.


How long does the South Downs Way take to run?

The duration it takes to run the South Downs Way can vary depending on individual fitness levels, running speed, and personal goals. Generally, completing the full length of the South Downs Way requires several days for most runners. For experienced ultra-runners or those aiming for a faster pace, it is possible to complete the entire route within 24 to 48 hours. On the other hand, runners who prefer a more relaxed pace or wish to enjoy the scenery and attractions along the way may choose to complete the South Downs Way over the course of several days.

Which way should I run the South Downs Way?

You can begin running the South Downs Way in Winchester or Eastbourne and either way is great, but running along the cliffs and Beachy Head is a particularly impressive finishing line for your last day.

How long is the South Downs Way?

Officially the South Downs Way is 100 miles long, but if you are running to and from accommodation and lunch spots and any other detours then it’s guaranteed you will run a lot more than that.

Where should I stay on the South Downs Way?

At the end of a route section, you will nearly always find a pub or B&B in the village or town in which to stop off. There are also plenty of pubs, Airbnb’s and campsites nearby the South Downs Way, and you can get to these by public transport or walk if they aren’t too far. Visit our accommodation page for more information.

Is there somewhere I can store luggage whilst walking the South Downs Way?

South Downs Way Baggage Transfer offers a bagger transfer service and will collect and deliver your bags to your accommodation for a fee. Find out more here.

If you don't feel up to walking the South Downs Way and prefer a cycling adventure, then you won't be disappointed. Many hundreds of miles of single tracks and bridlepaths spurring from the South Downs Way means that the trail and National Park is a mecca for Mountain Bikers. Not all rides need to be on the path, why not take a leisurely tour between scenic villages on your road or regular bike.



The stunning scenery and fantastic bridleways spanning across the South Downs Way and surrounding National Park mean that the trail is not just great for walking and cycling, but also ideal for horse riders of all levels. Whether you are out for a leisurely hack or prefer to use the downs for fitness work, there is something for everyone. Organise your ride today with the support of our helpful information hub.