The South Downs Way is a National Trail covering around 100 miles between Winchester and Eastbourne. This walking holiday is based in the South Downs National Park. An easy walk passing ancient and historic tracks, linking woodland, delightful villages and river valleys. The South Downs Way is shared by walkers, ramblers, horse riders and cyclists. Walkers following the South Downs escarpment have excellent views across farmland and rolling downs to the sea at Eastbourne.
Five main rivers cut through the chalk of the South Downs. The Cuckmere, Ouse, Adur, Arun and Meon rivers have created valleys along its length. For the most part the walk remains on the crest of the escarpment some 650 feet (200m) above sea level. The journey along the South Downs Way, provides a quality walking holiday. The path is well maintained and waymarked.
Guide books will describe the ever-present history along this walking route. Bronze Age and Iron Age primitive farm sites, long barrows and hill forts dotted along the ridge. There is something in the order of 400 Bronze Age burial mounds along the South Downs Way.
Trade routes engineered by the Romans across the South Downs were so advanced in their methods of construction that some of these paths have been adopted as modern ‘rights of way’. In places, you will see large wooden signposts bearing directions to Londinium (London), and Noviomagus (Chichester). All evidence of Roman past.
Your walking holiday starts in Winchester. A great place for a ‘Rest Day’ before you head off! A walk-up St Giles Hill offers spectacular views over the City. Why not visit Winchester Cathedral, offering an insight into a whole range of treasures including Jane Austen’s tomb and the Winchester Bible. For fans of Arthurian legend, the Great Hall of Winchester Castle features the Round Table.
Beacon Hill is a National Nature Reserve on an Iron Age hill fort. Nature lovers will be surprised to learn that there are 13 different varieties of orchid growing here. Should you be able to see above the head high cow parsley flanking the path above Exton, there are excellent views across to the Isle of Wight (don’t forget your binoculars!).
If you like photography, your perfect shot on the walking holiday could be in the pretty little village of Amberley with its beautiful thatched cottages. A great place to rest up. There is a museum here, and just a few miles away, Arundel Castle. The Clayton windmills, known as Jack & Jill are a much-loved feature on the South Downs Way, built in 1866 and 1821 respectively. The Devils Dyke is Britain’s largest single coombe of chalk karst; a steep dry valley which covers over 183 acres. The whole area here is now in the care of the National Trust. Paragliders, like giant butterflies, soar over Bostal Hill.
Your last climb on the South Downs Way is up to Beachy Head. Some 536 feet above the waves below. As you descend into Eastbourne you will arrive at a small café, where a notice board announces the official end of your walk. Time for a cup of tea! Should you decide on a Rest day or so at the end of your walking holiday, then Eastbourne has an array of exploration waiting for you. The Redoubt Fortress, shops, parks and gardens – not to mention Museums and Galleries will all round off your walking holiday adventure.
Great British Walks also offer the South West Coast Path in the southern area of England. Please contact us for details.
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