South Downs Way - 9 Days & 8 Nights9 Days & 8 Nights 4.4 Read 36 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 route has recently changed and now bypasses the village of Exton. However, a short half-mile walk to the south takes you into the village.
They offer a unique and charming B&B in the heart of Exton Village. You will stay in the Traiq house which has 2 beautiful bedrooms with hints of charm and character. The rooms have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay. In the morning you can enjoy a lovely continental or full English breakfast using local and fresh ingredients.
The Bucks Head is very much a part of the village community with friendly local characters, always ready with a warm welcome and tale or two to tell. They have five spacious rooms, all individually decorated with river views. Each room has an en-suite bathroom, colour television plus tea and coffee making facilities. Each guest also has the freedom to come and go at all times.
The Inn provides great, clean and comfortable accommodation for walkers. Small and intimate, the George & Falcon offers a range of en-suite rooms, located on the first floor. Each room is individually decorated with its own unique charm. The pub offers a selection of English real ales, draught beers, wines and spirits in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The menus offer a wide range of freshly cooked dishes and change seasonally to reflect the finest, freshest produce available locally. A continental or full English breakfast, cooked to order from locally-sourced ingredients, is available each morning.
Back on the path you quickly ascend Old Winchester Hill where the remains of an impressive Iron Age hill fort can be seen. From here, you can see in all directions, including over the Isle of Wight. Next, you come to Buster Hill. The summit is the highest point on the walk at 270m above sea level. Enjoy wonderful views across to South Downs and over the Channel. Shortly after, walk through the woodlands of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Now you are the on the high ridge and the next few miles are through more woodland, offering shade and protection until you reach the turn for South Harting.
Copper Beeches is a family run B&B where a warm welcome awaits you. It has two rooms, one double en-suite and a family suite, both rooms are south facing and on the first floor looking across open fields to the South Downs.
The White Hart is a fine old village Inn full of character and charm where you'll be assured of a friendly welcome. Each room has an en-suite bathroom with either a bath or a shower and all the amenities you require for a great overnight stay, some rooms also have beautiful garden views.
The cottage is a traditional timber framed thatched cottage providing a warm welcome to walkers. Rooms are simply furnished and have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay.
A long yet rewarding day awaits. Leaving South Harting, come to Harting Down where the trees thin out and views open up again. The path ascends Beacon Hill and then through the wooded Monkton Estate. Cocking Down leads you down to Warren Bottom. Follow a chalk lane back to the top of the Ridgeway, through Heyshott and Graffham Downs nature reserves, then descend to the old Roman road of Stane Street before climbing up Bignor Hill. The trail enters the Arun Valley before arriving in the pretty village of Amberley.
The Sportsman has 5 guest rooms, with incredible views over Amberley Wild Brooks or the South Downs’ Hills. All their rooms are quiet, clean and comfortable.
Woodybanks Cottage has elevated views across the Wildbrook Water Meadows, the garden has benches around for the guests to enjoy the views and wild life. The 4 star accommodation has a private guest sitting room which is available all day, private guest bathroom and extra toilet facilities down stairs. There is TV and tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms. Complementary tea/coffee /soft drinks are provided on arrival in the guest lounge.
Two Farm Cottages has two rooms in part of the original cottage. A double facing the downs and a twin-bedded room looking towards the Wildbrooks. A private bathroom for guests is equipped with shower and a bath for soaking tired legs. TV and tea/coffee making facilities with free WiFi are all supplied. Janet is a fully qualified reflexologist, which is handy for weary walkers. Charges are from £20 for approximately one hour of treatment.
There is a spell of easy walking today followed by gradual and gentle inclines. 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. Descend on a gentle path into the town of Steyning, tonight's overnight stop. Depending on availabilty today, you may be staying in near-by Upper Beeding which is a further 4.5 km along the trail.
Amberley to Steyning: 17.5 km, ascent/descent: 330m/320m
Amberley to Upper Beeding: 22 km, ascent/descent: 340m/340m
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.
This family run hotel offers comfortable accommodation in a central location. There is a lovely English Garden at the rear of the property. All rooms are en-suite, except one room which has a private bathroom. All have flat screen TV, Sky with all the movie, sports and documentary channels, as well as tea and coffee facilities.
Built in 1772, Springwells was originally a Georgian Merchant's house. They offer six charming bedrooms and staff offering the personal attention associated with a small, privately owned guest house. Facilities include all en-suite rooms, a lounge, snooker room, table tennis, heated swimming pool surrounded by attractive gardens.
Today you'll be starting from Steyning or Upper Beeding depending on where you stayed last night. An early start is best for this section. Mileage is quite long and there are a number of climbs. The highlight of this section is the spectacular dry valley of Devils Dyke. After Pyecombe you’ll see signs for the Jack and Jill windmills which are famous local landmarks and can be seen for miles around. Tonight you will be staying in Lewes which is about 5km off the SDW. A medium size market town, it boasts landmarks such as Lewes Castle, Lewes Priory and the 16th century timber framed Anne of Cleaves House. It's full of independent and boutique shops and retailers, and there are numerous cafés and restaurants most of which have a real emphasis on using local produce.
Steyning to Lewes: 29km, ascent/descent: 515m/480m
Upper Beeding to Lewes: 25.5 km, ascent/descent: 490m/460m
Alison and Vladimir invite you to enjoy a relaxed and comfortable stay with them in the heart of Lewes. Their home is just a few minutes’ walk from the antique shops, restaurants and cafes in the centre of town and the South Downs are just a 10 minute walk away behind the house. Their rooms are comfortably furnished with all the amenities you would require.
Aleberry B&B is in the vibrant Cliffe area of Lewes in East Sussex but offers a peaceful retreat, the guest rooms are simply furnished but have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay. The accommodation is all on the first floor, with a bathroom offering tub and separate shower shared between the bedrooms. There are plenty of restaurants and pubs to choose from in Lewes for your evening meal.
Step off the historic High Street and into the peaceful tranquillity of The Shelleys; an elegantly 17th Century, family-run, country house hotel. The Shelleys offers with high standards, within a uniquely calm ambience, with friendly staff who anticipate you’re every need. They have 19 boutique rooms, all en-suite, each designed and decorated to reflect our Georgian origins. All rooms are equipped with complimentary tea & coffee making facilities, mineral water, flat screen televisions and luxurious toiletries, irons and ironing boards are available upon request, as are laundry and dry-cleaning services and bathrobes. All bedrooms and public areas benefit from complimentary WiFi.
Follow a river side path out of Lewes to rejoin the SDW and then cross the River Ouse. Before rejoining the trail why not visit the Church in Southease? A beautiful ancient church in a peaceful location, the Church has an unusual Norman tower. There is also a water tap here for refilling bottles. Once 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.
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.
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.
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?
Adventure of the Week: South Downs WayEngland is crisscrossed by National Trails, which showcase the best w ...
The South Downs and the magnificent Seven Sisters CliffsI have recently returned from a trip along the South Down's Way. This ...
The South Downs - along the WayI am feeling nostalgic. A year ago a friend and I set out to walk the ...
South Downs Way Diary - Walking to the Seven SistersI awoke to a hazy light, not the light streaming through the windows ...
The Macs Adventure Way
- Tailor-Made Adventures
- Book With Confidence
- Positive Impact
- Knowledgeable and helpful friendly specialist adventure planners
- Tailor-make your trip to suit your interests
- Start on any date that suits you
- Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
- Range of accommodation options
- Choice of trip styles
- Choose your own travel companions
- Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
- Make your own decisions
- Choose your own path
- Indulge your passions
- 15,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
- Feefo Platinum Award 2021
- As featured in the Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, and more
- Founder owned & operated since 2003
- Passionate team members based in the US, the UK & Europe
- 100% Financial Protection
- "Peace of Mind Guarantee" means no worries if you need to change your plans
- Meticulously planned adventures
- Quality, hand-picked accommodation
- Seamless and reliable arrangements
- Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
- Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
- Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
- Travel responsibly
- Explore off the beaten track
- Support locally owned businesses
- Engage with local communities
- Minimise your impact
- Maximise the benefit of your travel
- Challenge yourself & grow