Day 1 Arrival in Winchester
From your point of arrival, use the public transport information we provide to make the journey to Winchester.
Day 2 Winchester - Meon Springs27-30 Km 7-9 Hrs 600-640 Metres
This rewarding section is a great introduction to the South Downs Way. You start in the heart of the historic city of Winchester but the trail soon leaves the city behind as you make your way into the low foothills of the Downs. The route leads through a rolling landscape that often has a surprisingly remote feel to it and which offers some fine views, in particular from Old Winchester Hill, with its fine Iron Age hill-fort.
Day 3 Meon Springs - Cocking32 Km 8-10 Hrs 800-810 Metres
Today the route enters the South Downs proper at Butser Hill, with just 270m the highest point of the entire South Downs Way. Pass through the ancient mixed woodlands at Queen Elizabeth Country Park before the trail again climbs to the top of the Downs and follows its gentle curves with often wonderful views towards the landscapes and villages to the north. Other highlights are Upark House south of the route, Telegraph House and the ancient barrows at Devil’s Jumps.
Day 4 Cocking - Amberley19 Km 5-7 Hrs 410 Metres
The first part of this walk is dominated by woodlands with some interesting Bronze Age barrows. Later you encounter a more open landscape with wide views from the Downs and briefly follow the ancient Roman road of Stane Street. From the top of Bignor Hill you can often enjoy a vast panorama, with the line of the Downs stretched out ahead and the Amberley Wild Brooks wetlands and River Arun below you. Overnight in Amberley or in Arundel (after a short train ride).
Day 5 Amberley - Bramber23 Km 6-8 Hrs 480 Metres
After a possible short train ride, you will pass a number of dew ponds, a famous feature of the Downs. You then visit the famous Chanctonbury Tree Circle, site of an Iron Age hill-fort dating back to the 6th Century BC – and said to be haunted. Enjoy fantastic views all around from here. With some luck, further on, you will be able to see the stunning hillside Abbey at Lancing College and the coast at Brighton. Continue to Steyning or Bramber, where you can visit the nearby remains of an impressive Norman castle overlooking the River Adur.
Day 6 Bramber - Lewes27 Km 7-9 Hrs 720 Metres
Explore the impressive dry valley of Devil’s Dyke, allegedly dug by the Devil himself to drown the parishioners of the land between the North and South Downs before you pass through the 1,000 year old hamlet and farm of Saddlescombe, once owned by the Knights Templar. If you like, visit Jack and Jill, the twin mills at Clayton, before the route brings you to Ditching Beacon. the highest point of the South Downs in Sussex. A short transfer will bring you to your accommodation in the attractive, historic town of Lewes where there is lots to explore – from one of the oldest Norman castles in England to the Anne of Cleves House, given by Henry the VII’s to his fourth wife.
Day 7 Lewes - Alfriston22 Km 6-8 Hrs 510 Metres
After a transfer to the trail and a short climb, you will experience mostly easy walking along the top of the Downs with wide views to the north and south. Pass Rodmell, where Virginia Woolf used to live in the 16th century Monk’s House, before you cross the River Ouse, where you can stop for lunch at the nearby YHA South Downs Hostel. The line of the Downs then guides you past Firlie Beacon to the charming, old village of Alfriston, once famous for smuggling and home to two of the oldest inns in England.
Day 8 Alfriston - Eastbourne17 Km 5-7 Hrs 695 Metres
This day is without a doubt the highlight of the entire South Downs Way. You start with a lovely riverside walk, followed by a visit to historic Friston Forest. From there you pass the ancient meanders of the Cuckmere River before the route climbs up to meet the English Channel at the iconic and glorious chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. Follow the cliffs (at a safe distance) to Beachy Head, with its spectacular lighthouse, before your journey comes to an end at the pleasant Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne.
Day 9 Departure from Eastbourne
There are regular bus & train services from Eastbourne to London and other destinations in the UK. Full details provided upon booking.