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Overview

Walking Holidays
7 - 10 Nights
100 miles / 160 km
  • Prices from: £720 per person
  • Start: Winchester, Hampshire
  • Finish: Eastbourne, East Sussex
  • Availability: Any start date from March to October
  • Grading: Moderate to Challenging
  • Way-marked: Yes

South Downs Way Highlights

Historic riches
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Trace the route of many medieval kings and armies as you follow the historic bridleway through the heart of Southern England.

Winchester
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Visit Winchester, England’s ancient capital. See the extravagant cathedral and stroll through the cobbled streets.

Wide open views
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Experience panoramic vistas as you walk over the rolling hills of the South Downs.

Quintessential English villages
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Stay in beautiful thatched villages brimming with independent shops and friendly local pubs.

Seven Sisters cliffs
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Enjoy a spectacular traverse over the tops of the famous white chalk cliffs as you approach the end of your walk.

Fairytale castles
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Add a rest day in Amberley or Kingston to explore the neighbouring towns of Arundel and Lewes with their fairytale castles and artisan crafts and bookstores.

A Classic Walk in the English Countryside

Experience some of our finest countryside between the historic city of Winchester and the magnificent white chalk cliffs on England’s South Coast. The South Downs Way stretches 100 miles from Winchester to the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne on the South Coast of England.

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Located within an hour of London, this delightful National Trail meanders along the crest of the Downs with far-reaching views over the patchwork fields, woods and villages of the Weald and southwards to the sea.

The route also dips into the beautiful river valleys, cutting through the Downs, and visits some very pretty villages with their friendly old pubs, thatched cottages and gardens bursting with wildflowers. The final section of the walk is over the magnificent chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.

Most people complete the trail in 8 days but we recommend you allow additional days for sightseeing in this area of outstanding natural beauty. If you enjoy great views, a variety of wildlife, history, fine pubs and pretty villages, the South Downs Way is ideal for you.

South Downs Way Route Map

Recommended Itinerary

Our most popular itinerary is SDW3 which covers the route in 8 days / 9 nights.

Travel to Winchester for your first night’s accommodation
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Arrive in 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 1: Winchester to Exton (12 miles / 19 km)
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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 2: Exton to Buriton (12 miles / 19 km)
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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 3: Buriton to Cocking (11.5 miles / 18.5 km)
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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 4: Cocking to Amberley (12 miles / 19 km)
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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 5: Amberley to Bramber (13 miles / 21 km)
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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 6: Bramber to Kingston (18 miles / 29 km)
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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 7: Kingston to Alfriston (12 miles / 19 km)
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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 8: Alfriston to Eastbourne (11 miles / 17.5 km)
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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.

Onward travel
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After breakfast, you will start your journey home after a wonderful walking holiday on the South Downs Way.

What’s Included?

Your South Downs Way walking holiday includes:

  • Carefully selected accommodation along the route and trail transfers when applicable
  • En-suite or private bathroom facilities whenever possible
  • Daily door-to-door baggage transfers
  • Comprehensive information pack, kit list, guidebook and map (one set per room)
  • Personalised itinerary with details of your accommodation, route and recommendations for lunch and dinner
  • Traditional English breakfast
  • 24-hour emergency contact number
  • Full financial protection

Your walking holiday doesn't include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Transport to and from the start and end of the walk
  • Lunches and evening meals

Itineraries & Prices

We offer 4 suggested itineraries for walking the South Downs Way.

Our most popular itinerary is SDW3 which covers the route in 8 days.

Tour code
Itinerary
Average miles infoAverage miles per day
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty
Price per person
SDW1
6 Days / 7 Nights
17 miles per day
Challenging
From £720
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 17 miles per day
Tour code: SDW1
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Challenging

6 Days / 7 Nights (SDW1)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Standard: £40 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £10 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Winchester for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Winchester to East Meon 17 miles / 27 km
2
Day 2 East Meon to Cocking 19 miles / 30.5 km
3
Day 3 Cocking to Washington 18 miles / 29 km
4
Day 4 Washington to Pyecombe 15 miles / 24 km
5
Day 5 Pyecombe to Alfriston 22 miles / 35.5 km
6
Day 6 Alfriston to Eastbourne 11 miles / 17.5 km
Depart Onward travel from Eastbourne

Prices

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£720 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

SDW2
7 Days / 8 Nights
14.5 miles per day
Moderate
From £810
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 14.5 miles per day
Tour code: SDW2
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Moderate

7 Days / 8 Nights (SDW2)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Standard: £40 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £10 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Winchester for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Winchester to Exton 12 miles / 19 km
2
Day 2 Exton to South Harting 16 miles / 25.5 km
3
Day 3 South Harting to Amberley 20 miles / 32 km
4
Day 4 Amberley to Bramber 13 miles / 21 km
5
Day 5 Bramber to Kingston 18 miles / 29 km
6
Day 6 Kingston to Alfriston 12 miles / 19 km
7
Day 7 Alfriston to Eastbourne 11 miles / 17.5 km
Depart Onward travel from Eastbourne

Prices

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£810 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

SDW3
8 Days / 9 Nights
12.5 miles per day
Moderate
From £895
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 12.5 miles per day
Tour code: SDW3
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Moderate

8 Days / 9 Nights (SDW3)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Standard: £40 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £10 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Winchester for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Winchester to Exton 12 miles / 19 km
2
Day 2 Exton to Buriton 12 miles / 19 km
3
Day 3 Buriton to Cocking 11.5 miles / 18.5 km
4
Day 4 Cocking to Amberley 12 miles / 19km
5
Day 5 Amberley to Bramber 13 miles / 21 km
6
Day 6 Bramber to Kingston 18 miles / 29 km
7
Day 7 Kingston to Alfriston 12 miles / 19 km
8
Day 8 Alfriston to Eastbourne 11 miles / 17.5 km
Depart Onward travel from Eastbourne

Prices

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£895 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

SDW4
9 Days / 10 Nights
11 miles per day
Moderate
From £1015
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 11 miles per day
Tour code: SDW4
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Moderate

9 Days / 10 Nights (SDW4)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Standard: £40 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £10 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Winchester for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Winchester to Exton 12 miles / 19 km
2
Day 2 Exton to Buriton 12 miles / 19 km
3
Day 3 Buriton to Cocking 11.5 miles / 18.5 km
4
Day 4 Cocking to Amberley 12 miles / 19km
5
Day 5 Amberley to Bramber 13 miles / 21 km
6
Day 6 Bramber to Pyecombe 8 miles / 13 km
7
Day 7 Pyecombe to Kingston 10 miles / 16 km
8
Day 8 Kingston to Alfriston 12 miles / 19 km
9
Day 9 Alfriston to Eastbourne 11 miles / 17.5 km
Depart Onward travel from Eastbourne

Prices

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£1015 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

South Downs Way Accommodation

All of the accommodation that we reserve for you has been personally selected by our expert team to ensure it meets our exacting standards. We regularly review our extensive database.

We will always prioritise accommodation as close to the walking trail as possible. Occasionally, your accommodation may be located a short distance from the trail, or you may need to spend more than one night in the same place, in which case we will provide return transfers.

Travel Information

Detailed travel information for the South Downs Way will be supplied in your Information Pack, but the following may help with your planning.

Getting to Winchester
By Air

Nearest International Airport: London Gatwick Airport.

Nearest Regional Airport: Southampton Airport.

Winchester is located 70 miles southwest of London city centre and 12 miles from Southampton Airport. The taxi fare from Southampton Airport is approximately £30 (journey time 25 min).

Southampton Airport is adjacent to Southampton Airport Parkway railway station where there are regular services to Winchester (journey time 10 – 20 min).

By Public Transport

Nearest Railway Station: Winchester.

A train service operates from London Gatwick to central London, where you can catch a connecting train to Winchester (total journey time 1 hour 40 min).

A coach service also operates between London Victoria Coach Station and Winchester (journey time 2 hours 40 min). 

A frequent train service operates between Southampton Airport and Winchester (journey time 10 min).

 

 

 

By Car

If you plan to travel by car there is a long stay car park in Winchester. This needs to be pre-booked in advance. 

Departing from Eastbourne
By Air

Nearest International Airport: London Gatwick Airport.

From Eastbourne, public transport links will take you direct to London Gatwick Airport or into central London. There are regular train services from central London to London Gatwick Airport (journey time 30 min).

By Public Transport

Nearest Railway Station: Eastbourne.

There are regular train services from Eastbourne to Gatwick Airport Station (journey time 1 hour 5 min) and to central London (journey time 1 hour 30 min).

From Eastbourne there are also regular National Express bus services to London (journey time 4 hours).

As the train and bus services can be very busy, we recommend booking in advance.

By Car

If you plan to travel by car, it may be possible to park at Beachy Head for the duration of your holiday. There is a car park where you can buy an annual parking ticket but spaces are limited. 

Additional Days

We would be delighted to arrange additional accommodation for you along the South Downs Way.

You may wish to plan a rest day or have an additional night at any of the locations along the route which offer activities or sightseeing opportunities – we’ve made some suggestions below. Please request this when you make an enquiry.

Winchester
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  • Winchester is a unique heritage city and is a great place for an extra overnight stop before the walk. Explore the magnificent Cathedral, visit a tempting array of independent shops and dine in award-winning pubs and restaurants
Amberley
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  • Take the train to explore the picturesque town of Arundel and Arundel Castle. It is also well placed for a mid- section break
Kingston (for Lewes)
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  • Explore the beautiful town of Lewes, home to some lovely shops and Lewes Castle
Eastbourne
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  • Discover Eastbourne’s award winning beaches, attractions and activities

Make an enquiry

South Downs Way

Need something more tailored?
Contact us via email:
enquiries@absoluteescapes.com

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