This page describes walks on the South Downs Way between Winchester and Eastbourne.
This is an official national trail following the ridge of the South Downs between Winchester and Eastbourne (or vice versa). Walkers, cyclists and horse riders are permitted along most of the path (diversions are available on some sections eg where narrow footbridges are unsuitable for horses/cyclists).
Description of the path
The route can be traveled in any direction of course. At the eastern end, between Eastbourne and Alfriston,it is possible to take an alternative inland or coastal route. This page currently reflects only the coastal alternative.
The South Downs are related to the North Downs, both being an expanse of warm sea millions of years ago. Over time rocks were raised up and put under so much lateral pressure that they arched. The top of the arch (or dome) was weakened by this force and has been gradually eroded to the extent no chalk remains. This is now the Weald - the land that lies between the North and South Downs. The path is therefore following the remaining edge of the chalk arch.
The route follows the higher part of the downs and therefore does not visit many towns. Passage places are Winchester, Exton, Old Winchester Hill, Butser Hill, Harting Down, Cocking Down, Bignor Hill, Amberley, Chactonbury Ring, Devil's Dye, Ditchling Beacon, Balmer Down, Iford, Hill, Firle Beacon, Alfriston, Cuckmere, Beachy Head & Eastbourne. The north route goes via Jevington from Afriston to Eastbourne.
The route crosses and coincides with several other long distance walks, at the eastern end it is coincident with the [unofficial] South Coast Path
It is possible to run or cycle the trail in one outing; however walking will take a little longer. Herein lies a challenge: since the path follows to upper chalkland and there are few crossings north - south - especially in the west. Regular public transport connections are often very limited. Therefore a number of options may be necessary in such cases: out & back, bed & breakfast [see the National Trail website below] or try camping out.
As Robert Macfarlane did in his book "The Old Ways" where he had an interesting experience at Chactonbury Ring in the early hours of one morning. He was following the footsteps of both Laurie Lee ["As I walked out one midsummer morning"] and Edward Thomas ["The South Country"].
South Downs Way Stats
|Terminus||Winchester||King Alfred's statue|
|Terminus||Eastbourne||Entrance on Duke Drive|
|Total Distance||161||km |
|Lowest point||3||m [amsl] at Cuckmere|
|Highest point||270||m [amsl] at Butser Hill |
- Butser Hill is strictly not on the way - but its only a few hundred metres away and you must not miss the opportunity.
- The official distance - reality is often more..
2. Stages Completed
The stages below are those completed. The distance is taken from gps track data.
If a stage below is underlined you can find out more about it by clicking on the stage name.
|Winchester - Cheesefoot Head||5.9 km||moderate|
|Cheesefoot Head - Millbarrows||7.7 km||moderate|
|Millbarrows - Exton||7.2 km||moderate|
|Exton - Salt Hill||9.7 km||hilly|
|Salt Hill - Queen Elizabeth Country Park||8.7 km||hilly|
|Cuckmere - Eastbourne||12.6 km||hilly|
3. Progress Table: Overall percent and total distance walked so far .
|32.2% completed||KM, HM||51.8 km||2016-ongoing||both directions|
Points of Interest
Notes for Walkers:
Transport to and from the South Downs Way is not as plentiful as it is along the coast from Portsmouth to Eastbourne. To date, because of this, all stages at the west end have adopted an "out & back" and are planning further stages likewise.
More will be added here once we have more experience. The National Trails website includes a bus route map.
Start: 30 Nov 2016
References & Links:
|Date||Reference or link|
|20161201||South Downs Way [wikipedia]|
|20161201||South Downs Way [National Trail]|
|20161201||South Downs Way [National Trail] accommodation|
|20160730||Geology Map - zoom to [this location]|
Updated KM 24 March 2017