Walking

The South Downs Way

If you’re ready to lace up some sturdy boots and enjoy the kind of walking that firms the legs and frees the mind, the South Downs Way may just be the trail for you.

Following a long range of chalk hills, the South Downs Way is a mammoth trail in Southern England. Exalted by Virginia Woolf as “too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness, if only they would look”, it is one of the UK’s 15 National Trails and the only one to lie completely within a National Park. 

Now, at over 100 miles long, we’re definitely not suggesting you tackle the trail in one go, but broken up into chunks, it creates some of the most beautiful walking, cycling and even horse-riding opportunities in the UK. Starting in Winchester and ending in Eastbourne (although you can flip the direction east to west if you’d rather), you can simply follow the large wooden signposts that mark points along the way and follow the rhythmic tread of your footsteps.

Following a route that has been walked for thousands of years, you will come across a wealth of history as you go, including Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age hillforts and numerous castles. With intriguing time capsules found alongside the trail and on scenic detours, the area’s rich heritage is a constant source of fascination. Yet as you muse over its history and amble thoughtfully along the trail, you will find that something else constantly vies for your attention too: the incredible views.

A seemingly non-stop roll of incredible vistas, the views are what makes the South Downs Way extra special. Largely following a ridge of hills, you will be treated to sprawling views of the ocean in one direction and picture-perfect countryside and villages in the other. Particularly striking, the stark, white face of Beachy Head (derived from the original 13th Century French “Beauchef” for “beautiful headland") stands at 162m above sea level – the highest chalk sea cliff in the UK.

Trek the Seven Sisters, pose atop Beachy Head and try to memorise as many scenes as you can. In an area famed for its diverse landscapes, you can enjoy the incredible contrasts of rolling seas, chalk grasslands, ancient yew forests (some of the oldest in the world), English heaths inhabited by snakes and lizards and pretty orchards and vineyards ripe with fruit. In fact, if you do find yourself wandering past one of the latter, we highly recommend purchasing yourself some local goodies for later.

Arrived back at your boutique retreat, your body overwhelmed with the kind of luxurious fatigue you can only achieve through good exercise and fresh air, you can crack open a bottle of local fizz, put your feet up and toast to another day of dreamy adventures. 

Feeling inspired? Take a peek at our gorgeous Sussex retreats here

 

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