South Downs Way Route

The South Downs Way is a National Trail within the South Downs National Park that stretches from Winchester to Beachy Head in Eastbourne and is 160km (100 miles) long.

The South Downs Way route covers both the counties Hampshire and Sussex. For walkers, the trail can be attempted in one long stretch or over several weekends; a typical completion time is 7-9 days if you walk around 12-15 miles a day.

For cyclists and horse riders, the route can take just a few days. The route has a few steep climbs, but is achievable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

South Downs Way Route Overview

The South Downs Way route is suitable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders for the full 160km as most of the trail is on bridleways. Occasionally some parts of the route are on roads or footpaths, but there is always an alternative for cyclists and horse riders. This is more common towards the end of the trail around Alfriston and Eastbourne.

The South Downs Way route displays some of the most breath-taking scenery, with various landscapes of chalk downs, traditional English villages, rivers and woodlands. While the route can be enjoyed in either direction, perhaps the most sensible is to start at Winchester and finish with the dramatic scenery of the Seven Sisters cliffs.

Towards the end of the trail, the final stretch from Alfriston to Eastbourne is possibly the most scenic of them all. This takes you over the cliffs of the Seven Sisters down to Beachy Head, giving fantastic views of the English Channel.

The South Downs way is the oldest national trail

It lies entirely within a national park

The highest point is Butser Hill at 271 metres

There are about 4150m of ascent and descent

Route Highlights

Winchester and Winchester Cathedral

Old Winchester Hill – Chalk hill with Iron Age hillfort

Butser Hill – A Chalk hill and one of the highest points in Hampshire at 271 metres high

Queen Elizabeth Country Park – Over 2000 acres of downland and woodland

Uppark House – A 17th century house and National Trust property

Quaint villages of Amberley, Storrington and Steyning

Devils Dyke – 100m V-shaped valley and beauty spot

Ditchling Beacon – Third-highest point on the South Downs and highest point in East Sussex

Alfriston – Picturesque village in East Sussex with a 14th century clergy house

Long man of Wilmington – A mysterious chalk figure on the side of the downs

Beachy Head and Seven Sisters cliffs – Impressive chalk cliffs created when ancient rivers cut valleys into the chalk

Discover The South Downs Way