A Guide to Camping on the South Downs Way

South Downs Way Campsite Planning

Camping on the South Downs Way is a cheaper and more adventurous option when it comes to looking for accommodation on the South Downs Way. While there are a few campsites directly on the Way itself, quite a few are around 1-2 miles off the main trail, so make sure you factor that into your route plans. While we have a suggested walking route for guidance, you may need to alter this to fit the location of your chosen campsites, ensuring your route has reasonable intervals. Below we share our guide to camping on the South Downs Way.

Campsites Along the South Downs Way

Some campsites are directly on the way itself including Housedean Campsite and Saddlescombe Farm Campsite. See our helpful map below, which lists all of the top campsites along the route. Use the toggle in the top right to select the campsites checkbox.

Suggested Route With Campsites (8 Days)

  1. Day 1: The options for campsites at the beginning of the route in Winchester are fairly limited. You can walk from Winchester to Holden Farm Camping, which isn’t too far, and could be a good introduction to the long walk ahead of you! The alternative is to walk to Exton like the suggested 8-day route laid out in our walking route guide and get a taxi or other transport to Brocklands Farm. You could also walk a little further just past Exton and stay at Meon Springs, which is directly on the route itself.
  2. Day 2: If you’ve walked to Exton, you’ll likely be wanting to find a campsite near Buriton. There aren’t many options for this area, so it might be better to try a B&B for this stretch of the route.
  3. Day 3: From Buriton you can walk to Cocking and camp at New House Farm Camp Site – Newhouse Ln, East Dean, Chichester PO18 0NJ. You can either walk around 2 miles to reach the campsite or arrange a taxi to pick you up.
  4. Day 4: From Cocking to Amberley. It might be worth making this a shorter day and staying at Gumber Campsite & Camping Barn.
  5. Day 5: Amberley to Upper Beeding. There aren’t many options for this area, so it might again be a better option to try a B&B for this stretch of the route.
  6. Day 6: Upper Beeding to Kingston. You can camp at Housedean Farm which is directly on the trail itself!
  7. Day 7: Kingston to Alfriston – You can camp at Alfriston Camping Park which is again not far from the trail.
  8. Alfriston to Eastbourne – route finished!

Best Tents for Camping on the South Downs Way

The next part of our guide to camping on the South Downs Way touches on an important part of camping – the tent! Choose a light tent to limit the load you are required to carry – below we have listed a few good options:

Solo Tents

1. FreeLite™ 2 Ultralight Backpacking Tent | Backpacking Tents | MSR (msrgear.com)

2. Laser Compact 1 Tent – Terra Nova (terra-nova.co.uk)

2-Man Tent

  1. Hubba Hubba™ NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent
  2. Cheviot 2 Tent

  3. Vango Soul 200 Tent

  4. Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 Tent

Can I Wild Camp on the South Downs?

Wild camping is not advised in the South Downs National Park as it runs through cultivated land, so we recommend you find campsites or other suitable accommodation. Please don’t camp on the South Downs without permission and make sure you take any rubbish home with you.

What to Bring Camping?

As the South Downs Way is a long route with different length options it could be expected to take anywhere from 5 days up to 9+ depending if you are visiting other places on your way. Therefore, the number of items you’ll need to bring will vary.

Finding the right backpack to take walking on the South Downs

For trips of 5+ days it is likely you’ll need a 70 litre or larger backpack to fit everything in. Make sure to bring a rain cover as well, especially if the weather forecast is looking poor.

Sleeping

  • Tent (+ extras)
  • Sleeping bag + pad
  • Pillow (optional if you want to reduce your load)

Clothing

  • Hiking boots
  • Socks
  • A waterproof coat or warm insulated jacket
  • Long-sleeved top
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Hat (depending on the type of weather)
  • Gloves (depending on weather)
  • Thermals (depending on weather)
  • Warm fleece (depending on weather)
  • Sunglasses (depending on weather)

Other

  • Torch or lantern
  • Sunscreen
  • Map
  • Optional GPS
  • Phone portable battery + cable
  • Cash/Credit Card
  • Knife or multi-tool kit
  • Pain relief
  • First aid kit
  • Glasses

Cooking

  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Pots
  • Cooking utensils/ bowls
  • Water container
  • Soap + Towel
  • Lighter/Matches

Food

  • Energy bars/ Snacks (make sure to take plenty of these as there are no shops on the South Downs!!)
  • Food to cook

Hygiene

  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Brush
  • Sanitary Products
  • Toilet Paper

 

We hope you have enjoyed this guide to camping on the South Downs Way and have a better understanding of how to camp the South Downs Way. Camping allows you to connect with nature while enjoying the stunning scenery of the South Downs, so we thoroughly recommend you give it a go. Don’t forget to wake up early to enjoy the sunrises and so you don’t miss a moment of this adventurous journey!

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