South Downs Way - 8 Days & 7 Nights8 Days & 7 Nights 4.5 Read 35 reviews
- Winchester with its attractive Cathedral
- The Viewpoints of Beacon and Butser Hills
- Wild Flowers and butterflies that dominate the trail
- Devils Dyke - a stunning beauty spot carved by glaciers into a deep valley
- Magnificent chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.
Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night
This trip is suitable for:
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- National Parks & Trails
Grade & Terrain
Itineraries on this walk are graded Moderate as the path is on good surfaces with gentle and gradual gradients, other than a few moderately steep sections. The highest point on the trail is only 245 metres– reached at Butser Hill and again at Ditchling Beacon.
The South Downs Way is very well waymarked and easy to follow. Navigation is straightforward as you can use the Macs Adventure Smartphone App which has maps, GPS tracks and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation on this tour will be made simple and you cannot get lost.
You will find more information on downloading the app in your Macs Adventure Account.
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the Inns, Guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We always try and book your accommodation as close as possible to the trail. Occasionally walkers may need to venture a mile or so off the trail as the availability of quality accommodation can become scarce.
If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.
If you wish to add additional nights along the trail or at the beginning and end of your itinerary please contact us. You may choose to add an additional night at any of the overnight locations, all are great places to spend more time exploring.
- Bed and breakfast accommodation in ensuite rooms wherever possible
- Door to door baggage transfer.
- Access to maps, GPX tracks and daily route information with the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
- All your trip documents provided digitally through your online Macs “My Account”
- Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
- Entrance fees (where applicable)
- Travel Insurance
- Transport should you need to skip a stage
- Additional nights
When To Go
This walking holiday can be enjoyed from March to October. Summer can be hot in the South Coast and very busy especially over the school holidays. We would advise walking in the Spring to see the wild flowers that coast the fields you walk through. Please note if your itinerary has a night in Buriton, you are not able to start on a Friday as there is no-where available to have dinner on a Sunday in Buriton.
This tour is not available for departure dates between the 21st August and 31st August.
Getting to the Start
By Air—The closest regional airport to Winchester is Southampton. ‘Flybe’ serve most regional UK airports as well as Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and other European airports. Further afield is London Gatwick with most international connections.
By Rail/Bus—Winchester is situated on the South West trains network and is 1hr from London Waterloo station. Buses run regularly from all over the country to Winchester. From London Victoria Coach station there are 5 daily services with ‘National Express’ coaches.
By Car—We don't recommend travel by car due to the environmental impact but if you do need to drive you can park in the long stay car park in Winchester. This needs to be prebooked in advance through the Winchester parking Office—01962 848346.
Getting from the End
By Air—The closest airport to Eastbourne is London Gatwick with most regional UK and international connections. Travel time by car is 1h 30 mins
By Rail/Bus—Eastbourne is approx 1hr 30 by train from central London. Trains depart London Victoria and are very frequent throughout the day.
By Car—Most on street parking in Eastbourne is pay and display and you cant leave your car overnight. There is a car park at Beachy Head which you can buy an annual parking ticket but spaces are limited. Please contact the Parking Info Office on 08456 801129 A good source of reference for travel details is the Travelline website.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
The distances and ascent/ descents are approximations of the recommended routes.
Our standard itineraries describe the walk in an West to East direction. Prevailing winds at your back and a finish at the white cliffs near Eastbourne generally dictate that this is the best direction. If however you wish to walk East to West we can arrange this for you.
Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The South Downs Way is one of the easiest and most accessible of all the National Trails of Great Britain. That said there will be a number of ascents and descents - most noticeably where the path crosses river valleys. It helps to have done some multi day walking before and regular cardio vascular exercise prior to your holiday will increase your fitness levels and therefore your enjoyment of the walk.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this route is very popular. Given its proximity to London and the more populated areas in the South of England the trail can get busy - especially in the summer months. To ensure you have quality accommodation, on or near to the trail its best to book as soon as you know your available dates.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. You can download a full equipment list from the downloads page of our website.
This walking holiday can be enjoyed from March to October. Summer can be hot in the South Coast and very busy especially over the school holidays. We would advise walking in the Spring to see the wild flowers that coast the fields you walk through.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. In some cases the baggage transfer service that takes your bags on to your next accommodation may be able to assist. Our office can assist with helpful advice should you need to arrange transport for yourself or anyone in your party.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive in Winchester and overnight
The Saxon capital of England, Winchester is a charming city full of character and history. The Cathedral remains the largest attraction and at over 900 years old with impressive Gothic architecture, it’s easy to see why. Winchester is easily reached by train from London in less than 1h30mins.
A spacious, beautifully presented four-star hotel, offering a superior level of comfort in stylish yet warm and restful surroundings. All rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV and the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay. Extras include bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. Their historic bar retains all the charming period features of an 18th-century building, with contemporary style where you can relax over a glass of fine wine or a refreshing pint of real ale; Timothy Taylor Landlord is always available, with three guest ales (including beers from the local area) on rotation.
This prestigious Westgate Pub with Rooms sits in a commanding position at the top of historic Winchester high street, in the heart of the city and a short stroll from the fortified medieval gateway, after which it was named. They have 10 individually decorated boutique rooms, in their grade 2 listed building, offering wonderful views of the city. Each boutique room has all the comforts of home, with original period fireplaces, deluxe king size beds and en-suite bathrooms. The Westgate’s talented chefs combine fresh produce with spectacular presentation to create a quirky and interesting array of scrumptious dishes in the restaurant.
The Wykeham Arms is a unique 18th century coaching inn, situated between the Cathedral and the College. Retaining many original features, the Wykeham Arms is known for its charm, good food, fine wines, log fires and local ales. They have a range of individually-designed, bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, that have period features and elegant decor. The traditional restaurant and cosy bar are decorated with memorabilia and have a warm ambience.
Your first day walking quickly takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Winchester into the countryside. The pretty village of Chilcomb with its thatched cottages and village green is a real highlight today. As you climb Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve you are rewarded with views across the Meon Valley to Old Winchester Hill. The trail continues around the edge of the picturesque village of Exton, which is definitely worth a short detour. From here, continue to Old Winchester Hill. On clear days you may even spot the Isle of Wight in the distance. From here, it's a short distance to the town of East Meon, your overnight stop.
Ye Olde George Inn is a delightful 15th century coaching inn, set in the heart of some of Hampshire's most beautiful countryside. The pub is a beautiful historic building with the River Meon running by the side. They have 5 guest rooms that have hypoallergenic pillows, TV with freeview, beverage tray, complimentary toiletries and free WIFI.
They offer a warm welcome to Upper Parsonage Farm, it is a newly built farmhouse with double room and en-suite to provide a comfortable night’s sleep. The room contains a TV with Freeview, DVD player, iPod dock, hairdryer, refreshments tray and mineral water - and a few other little extras. Their priority is to make your stay peaceful and memorable in their family farmhouse. Breakfast is served in the main house dining room where there is continental breakfast and cooked breakfast on offer.
This friendly B&B provides a warm welcome to walkers located just outside the village. Each bedroom has a Flat Screen Television & a Radio. There is a Garden Room with sunset views for guests use & also a kitchen with tea, coffee & hot chocolate making facilities. The kitchen is also available for guests who wish to make a snack or sit and put the world to rights after their exertions. Wifi access is also available.
At the beginning of today's walk, you come to Buster Hill, which is the highest point on the walk with wonderful views across to the Isle of Wight. Shortly after you walk through the woodlands of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Now you are the on the high ridge and the next few miles are through woodland, offering shade and protection. Once past the turn for South Harting, you reach Harting Down where the trees thin out and your views open up again. The path ascends Beacon Hill and then through the wooded Monkton Estate. Cocking Down leads you down to Warren Bottom and a short while after you see signs that take you off the trail to reach the village of Cocking.
Moonlight is a cosy and charming 200-year-old flint and brick cottage, just a short stroll from the South Downs Way. All their rooms have freeview television, tea and coffee making facilities and all the facilities you need for a relaxing overnight stay. Refreshments are available throughout the day in their tea room and traditional cottage garden.
Malcolm and Janet Hunt welcome you to Downsfold in Cocking, a family home set in gardens of about half an acre. Enjoy a traditional full English breakfast in the Garden Room, or something lighter if you prefer. If you are looking simply to relax in the evening, you can enjoy their quiet and attractive garden.
The Swan Inn dates back to the late 1400’s and is a Grade 2 listed building. Alongside the wonky floorboards and low ceilings you will find an ancient wall decoration, amazing architecture and a welcoming atmosphere. The Inn overlooks the Town Square and with the medieval church opposite, the setting is a lovely place to relax and take in your surroundings. It has 6 en-suite guest rooms which have all the facilities you require for a great overnight stay.
After rejoinig the trail from Cocking, a chalk lane leads you back to the top of the Ridgeway, through Heyshott and Graffham Downs nature reserves, then heading down crossing the old Roman road of Stane Street before climbing up Bignor Hill. The trail enters the Arun Valley. From here it's an easy-going walk along a high ridge of the Way offering lovely views to the coast. The town of Washington is your overnight stop, a peaceful village of about 2,000 people.
You will be guaranteed a warm welcome when you check into Holt House. All rooms are comfortably furnished and have all the amenities you requite for a lovely overnight stay and some rooms have views over their lovely garden. WIFI available throughout the house. If you are wet on arrival – you will leave dry! Also free clothes washing service available.
Ron & Lesley look forward to welcoming you to Downs View. They are a family run B&B in Upper Beeding, offering extremely comfortable accommodation in seven spacious en-suite rooms. Each room has a TV/DVD, hairdryer, and tea & coffee making facilities. All beds have 100% cotton sheets and pillow cases, and complimentary Gilchrist & Soames toiletries are provided in all bathrooms.
Leaving Washington by way of a field trail, rejoin the SDW. From here the path then climbs steeply to Chanctonbury Ring, an ancient and magical circle of Beech trees. The path descends slowly around the southern edges of the Steyning Bowl valley and into Botolphs. The trail climbs again, taking in Truleigh and Fulking Hills and culminating in the spectacular Devil's Dyke, a deep dry valley said to have been carved out by Satan. One final steep climb to ascend West Hill from where you can enjoy views over the Jack and Jills windmills in the distance. From there it's all downhill to Pyecombe.
Val & Graham offer a friendly warm welcome right on the South Downs Way, their 2 guest rooms are comfortably furnished and have all the amenities that you will require for a lovely overnight stay. The two rooms share the one bathroom. In the morning you can look forward to a great cooked or continental breakfast.
An early start is best for this section. Leaving Pyecombe you’ll see signs for the Jack and Jill windmills which are famous local landmarks and can be seen for miles around. Then you reach an easy section that passes Rodmell and Southease and then crosses the River Ouse. Back on the escarpment, you have coastal views to the south, down to Cuckmere Haven. At Bostall Hill you begin to descend slowly to the picture-postcard village of Alfriston with its Tudor Beam cottages, village green, pubs and tea rooms.
Situated in a peaceful, rural location with breath-taking views of the Cuckmere Valley in East Sussex, Riverdale House is a rare blend of elegant period accommodation and relaxed, laid back atmosphere. Each of their five rooms has been designed to provide luxury and comfort within the period setting. All rooms have private en suite facilities, flat screen television with integrated DVD players, tea and coffee making facilities, hot water bottles, hairdryers and comfortable beds.
Chestnuts provides a friendly and warm welcome to walkers and is close to all the pubs/restaurants in the village. They have 3 very comfortable rooms which have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay.
At The Paddocks B&B guests are treated to homely country style accommodation. All bedrooms all have en-suite facilities, with their own entrance so you can come and go as you please. You can rest and relax in your own comfortable self-contained unit in the knowledge that either horse or hound are in a purpose built stable yard only some 10 yards away. Twin or double rooms are available all with tea/coffee making facilities, television, free Wi-Fi connection, a hairdryer and fresh towels provided.
The last section contains impressive coastal scenery. Saving the best until last, this section takes you through the Cuckmere Valley as the river makes its way to the sea. The Seven Sisters roll away in front of you as you stroll along the cliff tops. The grassy cliff path undulates to Beachy Head, a spectacular chalk cliff with panoramic views in all directions. Slightly further on is the official end of the South Downs Way at Meads Village. Eastbourne is a half-hour walk from here or if you are feeling weary a short bus ride.
Southcroft is a friendly, 4 star relaxed Edwardian Guest House situated in a quiet residential area of Eastbourne. They have a comfortable Guest Lounge to relax with a full range of tourist information, books and games to pass an hour or two and daily newspapers. The dining room looks out onto the patio garden. This is a very sunny pleasant room for breakfast and you may want to take your morning coffee out into the garden.
Cambridge House is a 2 minutes’ walk from the beach, this end terrace property has had an extensive renovation and offers B&B accommodation with free Wi-Fi. Each refurbished room is light and airy with individual décor, and most rooms have a view to the sea. Many rooms have en-suite bathrooms, and some have a separate private bathroom. Complimentary toiletries are included along with tea/coffee-making facilities, a 32-inch flat-screen TV with Freeview and Egyptian cotton bed linen.
Cherry Tree Guest House is a friendly, family run guest house offering relaxed accommodation in the quiet Lower Meads district of Eastbourne. All rooms have crisp cotton linen, duvets to snuggle under, fluffy towels and fine English made toiletries.
After a decadent cooked English breakfast, check out of your accommodation in Eastbourne and start your onward journey. Eastbourne has a train station and the journey to London takes about 1.5 hours.
If you have more time to explore, why not consider one of our other adventures in England?
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