South Downs Way

South Downs Way Route

This is our suggested South Downs Way route. Click on Itineraries and Prices for various route options.

Day 1: Travel to Winchester, one of England’s most beautiful cities, just over an hour south west of London and spend the evening at your first nights’ accommodation.

Day 2: Winchester to Exton (12 miles / 19 km)
The first day of the South Downs Way begins at the cathedral in the centre of Winchester. Walk over the River Itchen, out of the city and into the rolling East Hampshire countryside. The route takes you through the delightful village of Chilcomb where you can admire the fine thatched cottages, before a gradual ascent to Cheesefoot Head, with great views over the Itchen Valley.

Continue along leafy country lanes through a typically English landscape. The highlight of the day appears at the top of Beacon Hill (201 m) with a lovely view over the Meon Valley to Old Winchester Hill. While the route undulates all the way there are no steep ascents or descents.

The route bypasses the village of Exton however a short walk takes you into the village.

Day 3: Exton to Buriton (12 miles / 19 km)
The route to Buriton is a varied stretch, undulating over open grassy downland where you will enjoy wonderful views from Old Winchester Hill (198 m) and Butser Hill (270 m), both National Nature Reserves.

From Old Winchester Hill the remains of an impressive Iron Age hill fort can be seen and from Butser Hill - the highest point of the South Downs - there are wonderful panoramic views across to the Isle of Wight. Walk through the woodlands of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park before arriving into the village of Buriton.

Day 4:
Buriton to Cocking (11 miles / 17.5 km)
Enjoy a pleasant days walking, especially the very fine stretch along the ridge of Harting Down. The path ascends the flanks of Beacon Hill and then passes an impressive series of burial mounds – the ‘Devil’s Jumps’ (barrows) dating back 3000 years.  After you descend from Cocking Down you see signs for the village of Cocking.

Day 5: Cocking to Amberley (12 miles / 19 km)
The South Downs Way heads back to the top of the ridge through Heyshott and Graffham Downs. The route is followed by a day of steady ascents and descents and crosses the old Roman road of Stane Street which once connected Chichester with London.

A gentle ascent takes you to the summit of Bignor Hill, where there are fine views along the length of the Downs towards the stunning Arun Valley and beyond. The trail descends to Amberley, a delightful village, noted for its thatched cottages, Norman church and castle.

Day 6: Amberley to Bramber
(13 miles / 21 km)
Another day of fine walking along the ridge with excellent views to enjoy all the way. The day begins with a stiff climb up to the top of Amberley Mount which eases on the approach to Rackham Hill (193 m).The path then climbs steeply to Chanctonbury Ring; an ancient and magical circle of Beech trees planted on the site of an Iron Age hill-fort and a splendid view point.

The path descends slowly around the southern edges of the Steyning Bowl Valley. Your accommodation for the night will be in the village of Bramber, one mile from the route.

Day 7: Bramber to Kingston
(18 miles / 29 km)
This is the longest stage of the South Downs Way with three major ascents, but it is an exhilarating day with excellent views.

The highlight of this section is the glacial valley of ‘Devils Dyke’, claimed to be the deepest chalk dry valley in the World. After Pyecombe you’ll see signs for the twin ‘Jack and Jill’ Windmills which are a distinctive landmark on the South Downs. Kingston is only a short climb and a detour of 15 minutes off the trail.

Day 8: Kingston to Alfriston
(12 miles / 19 km)
Enjoy more excellent ridge-top walking as the route crosses two long and undulating ridges separated by the Ouse Valley. As the sea becomes ever closer there are coastal views to the south, down to Cuckmere Haven. From Bostall Hill you begin to descend slowly to the picturesque old village of Alfriston, which despite its popularity, remains unspoilt.

Day 9: Alfriston to Eastbourne
(11 miles / 17.5 km)
The most scenic day of the whole Way! The first section is an easy walk along the riverbank of the lazy Cuckmere River while the latter introduces you to some of the finest coastal scenery in Britain. A wonderful but strenuous roller-coaster walk over the cliff tops of the Seven Sisters takes you all the way to Beachy Head; the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain at 164 m. This is a delightful climax to the walk with great views over the English Channel.

The official end to the South Downs Way is at Meads Village, from which Eastbourne is an easy 30 minute walk or if you are feeling weary, a short bus ride.

Day 10: Onward Travel