Walking the South Downs Way

Dust off those walking boots and set foot on the South Downs Way. Whether you are an experienced walker wanting to complete the trail in a short space of time or prefer a more leisurely walking pace, there are hundreds of different routes available.

We have a collection of suggested itineraries available for walking the South Downs Way, all of which can be altered to suit your fitness level and requirements. To make it easier to plan your route and keep everyone happy, each section suggests some places where you can find delicious food and rest your tired legs either during or after walking the South Downs Way!

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 running 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

Run 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 run right past the Jack and Jill windmills.

Kingston to Alfriston

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

Alfriston to Eastbourne

When running 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 walk?

This will depend on how active you are but generally 8 days, walking on average 12 miles per day is a good amount to walk the South Downs Way. Of course, if you are fitter then you can walk it in 5/6 days, or alternatively take your time and explore Hampshire and Sussex and take some rest days. You can also do it over several weekends, if you’d rather not walk consecutively for 8 days. Remember that blisters will be common as the path can be firm and you might want to take your time so add on extra days if needed.

Which way should I walk the South Downs Way?

You can begin walking the South Downs Way in Winchester or Eastbourne and either way is great, but walking 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 walking to and from accommodation and lunch spots and any other detours then it’s guaranteed you will walk 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.

Can I book walking holidays along the South Downs Way?

Absolutely. Visit South Downs Discovery for a wide selection of industry-leading South Downs Way walking holidays and packages tailored to your group’s hiking ability and price range.

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.