Walks on the South Downs

The South Downs is a range of low, chalk hills running through three counties in southern England - Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex – and embracing two areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The terrain isn’t demanding, rising to no more than 900 ft. so walkers stride out here at all times of the year. The South Downs Way National Trail stretches for around 100 miles from Winchester, Hampshire, in the west to Eastbourne, East Sussex, in the east. The landscapes reveal ample evidence of ancient occupation in the form of Iron Age forts and Bronze Age round barrows.

Winchester traces its history back to the Iron Age and the Romans. Historical sights include the cathedral, which boasts both Norman and Gothic architecture, and an Arthurian Round Table displayed in the thirteenth-century Great Hall. There are good views of Winchester from the top of nearby St. Catherine’s Hill.

Pastures, fields and woodland spread beyond the city. The Queen Elizabeth Country Park stretches over 1400 acres and encompasses Butser Hill (888ft.), the South Downs’ highest point. The impressive, sprawling remains of Bignor Roman Villa, near the village of Bignor, are also worth seeing.

The ring of trees at Chanctonbury Ring, Cissbury Ring’s Iron Age hillfort and the view from the top of Devil’s Dyke are all highlights of the area. The town of Lewes combines medieval and Georgian architecture, while on the coast, nearby Brighton boasts the Regency splendour of the famous Royal Pavilion. West of Eastbourne, walk to the top of Windover Hill for views of the surrounding countryside. Before climbing up, you’ll be greeted by the enormous outline of the Long Man of Wilmington, which is carved on the hillside.
There are splendid coastal views along the southernmost area of downland, culminating in Beachy Head and the resort of Eastbourne. The famous promenade at Eastbourne stretches for 3 miles, offering a leisurely stroll for the foot-weary traveller.

South Downs


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