South Downs Way - 10 Days & 9 Nights
- 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
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. There is a bustling street market selling a variety of look crafts and food on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Winchester is also home to a number of historical pubs, including the Royal oak, which claims to be the oldest in England.
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.
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.
One of Winchesters most popular desitnations for weekend get aways and spa breaks for over for over 20 years. Perfectly situated a short 10 minute walk from Winchesters historic city centre. Recharge and relax at The Spa with a range of facilities and luxurious treatments. Dine in the beautiful Alfreds Bar and Restaurant with a range of culinary experience and rest after a day of exploring winchester in one of their 96 comfortable bedrooms.
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. A short walk brings you into the village of Exton. As there is limited accommodation in Exton your accommodation for this evening may be in nearby Warnford which is a very short de-tour off the South Downs Way on the Monarchs Way.
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.
Crossways B&B is ideal for walkers, cyclists and visitors to the area of outstanding natural beauty, within the South Downs National Park. Crossways B&B is a brand new build, offering a combined kitchen/diner, large bedroom with spacious seating area, satellite TV and free wi-fi.
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.
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 before arriving at the lovely village of Buriton. As there is limited accommodation in Buriton we may accommodate you for this evening in nearby Petersfield which is approx 3km off the South Downs Way.
A local interior designer has reinvigorated their boutique style Inn of 15 individually designed bedrooms with roll top baths or contemporary showers, each room has a comfy bed, a Smart TV, Ethernet connections and fibre optic Wi-Fi, essential for today’s living. They pride themselves on their clean standards and warm friendly service and focus on those small but important details. They have chosen high quality linen, fluffy towels and luxurious toiletries by The White Company for your comfort.
At the Half Moon you’ll find a warm welcome, they have four rooms that are all en-suite and have all the amenities you require for a relaxing night stay. The half-moon bar area has a large castle style bar which allows for comfortable sitting at the bar for eating and drinking. Their aim at The Moon is simple -to offer great tasting home cooked food. They like to deliver high quality restaurant dishes but without some of the stuffiness that can sometimes accompany it. Please note on a Sunday their opening hours are 10am until 6pm
The Old Drum is a contemporary country pub in the centre of Petersfield. Built in the 18th Century, it is the oldest in the area and has been lovingly and painstakingly restored to keep its character and charm. Enjoy real ales and fantastic, locally sourced food in a relaxed, eclectic environment. With three open fires, comfy leather sofas and happy, smiling staff. They have five beautiful, stylishly decorated appointed en-suite rooms, the rooms have Egyptian cotton sheets, wonderful Algotherm shampoos and soaps, great showers and fluffy towels.
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 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 slightly to reach the village of Cocking. As there is limited accommodation in Cocking your accommodation for this evening may be in nearby Midhurst where we will arrange a taxi transfer to for you.
In the centre of Cocking village, immediately below the South Downs Way, and now owned by the local community, the Blue Bell at Cocking is a welcoming free house, serving fresh local produce and a choice of local ales, and excellent coffee. They have a garden with Downs views and are dog friendly in our public areas. They are also an official South Downs Information Point, providing comprehensive information on the surrounding area, and offer cycle repair facilities on site.
Bed & Breakfast accommodation in the heart of the South Downs National Park, in the village of Cocking, in close proximity to the South Downs Way. A peaceful location with view of open farmland.
The Spread Eagle Hotel and Spa in Midhurst is one of England's oldest coaching inns in the heart of the South Downs. The hotel offers a blend of traditional charm and contemporary comfort, and is the perfect place to explore the beauty of West Sussex. The hotel offers ammenities such as free wifi, a fitness center, a pool and breakfast.
After rejoining 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 before arriving in the pretty village of Amberley. The village is noted for its thatched cottages and its distinctive sandstone buildings.
Amberley Black Horse is located in the picturesque village of Amberley within the South Downs National Park.
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.
You will be guaranteed a warm welcome when you check into Holt House. Anne is a very relaxed host very used to walkers who all need hot water and comfortable beds. Walking is rewarding and tyring. She hope she can supply a home from home, if not more, and that people will remember the lovely time they had there. All rooms have all the amenities you requite for a lovely overnight stay and some rooms have views over their lovely garden.
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 trail descends slowly around the southern edges of the Steyning Bowl valley and into Botolphs. Tonight's overnight stop depends on availability, you may be staying in Steyning, Bramber or Upper Beeding.
Below are the adjusted distances:
Amberley to Bramber: 19.5km, ascent/descent: 325m/235m
Amberley to Steyning: 17.5 km, ascent/descent: 330m/320m
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.
Situated just 5 minutes from the Town Centre, and 10 minutes from the nearest beach, Hill View B&B offers comfortable rooms. Guests have also access to a beautiful half acre garden to relax in the evening. For breakfast, when in season, there is the chance to enjoy fresh fruit, straight from the garden.
Today you'll be starting from Steyning, Bramber or Upper Beeding depending on where you stayed last night. An early start is best for this section. The 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-sized 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
Bramber to Lewes: 28km, ascent/descent: 455m/240m
Bramble Barn B&B offers three guest bedrooms in which you can relax and unwind. All rooms are en suite and have a 32” flat screen television, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary toiletries and wi-fi access. You can also relax in the garden after a long day of walking.
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.
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. Their rooms are comfortably furnished with all the amenities you would require.
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.
A 19th-century colonial-style country house, run by a small passionate team. Expect country charm, log beams, roaring log fires and rustic-chic rooms. A real home away from home that is perfectly located for exploring Alfriston and Rathfinny Wine Estate.
This 14th century country house hotel, is set in the heart of the Sussex Downs in the pretty village of Alfriston. Set in four acres of fabulous gardens, Deans Place Hotel has all the facilities you require. It boasts 36 bedrooms, a public bar, and guest lounges. The hotel is home to the locally renowned, Rosette-awarded, Dining Room. It also offers an outdoor seasonal swimming pool (available from May to September).
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.
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. There's the chance to take a refreshing swim at the shingle beach at Birling Gap or to grab an ice cream. 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. Eastbourne is a traditional English seaside town. A popular holiday destination during the Victorian-era, it has many Victorian style seaside buildings and a grand pier. Enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants in town.
The Pier Hotel is situated on the elegant Eastbourne seafront opposite the iconic Eastbourne Pier. Majority of the rooms are newly refurbished in 2019 giving a modern twist to this beautiful Victorian building. There's a laid-back grill restaurant and bar with terrace dining, and a tearoom.
A friendly, family run guest house offering relaxed accommodation in the quiet Lower Meads district of Eastbourne and just a short walk from the beach. All rooms have their own character and are equipped with everything you need. There's a small outdoor courtyard where you can relax beneath the cherry tree or inside there is a comfortable public lounge where you can help yourself to tea or coffee or perhaps purchase a beer and snack from their honesty bar. They are well known for their breakfast menu, which is mouth wateringly good and with a range of options there's sure to be something that you will love.
Number Ninety One Bed and Breakfast is situated in a great location directly opposite the sea front. Set back slightly with easy on-road free and unrestricted parking, it's a quiet location and yet close to Eastbourne's many attractions. The beautiful pebble beach and esplanade is opposite and visitors will enjoy the flat walk to the Pier which is a ten minute walk away. Guests can relax in the pretty Number Ninety One front garden if they wish. This Edwardian three storey house, is warm and welcoming, it has many original features, with sea view rooms, and has been refurbished and decorated to a high standard. The rooms are all en suite, well equipped with many extras and offers free WiFi.
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?
Other InformationIs it for me?
The rolling hills of the South Downs make this walk the ideal escape from city life. Daily distances are sometimes long but only a couple of moderately steep sections are encountered. If you enjoy fantastic views, woodland walking and traditional village Inns then this is the walk for you.
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
This itinerary is graded moderate as the path is on good surfaces with gentle and gradual gradients, other than a few moderately steep sections. Day 7 is quite long but managable due to the good terrain. The highest point on the trail is only 245 metres– reached at Butser Hill and again at Ditchling Beacon.
We choose the country hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, and traditional hospitality. 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. Please note in some cases in the South Downs Way you may at times be staying in old traditional buildings that might have slightly smaller room sizes than others.
If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.
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.
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.
- 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
This walking holiday can be enjoyed from April to September. Summer can be hot on the South Coast and very busy, especially over the school holidays. We would advise walking in the spring to see the wildflowers 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.
In Lewes if you would like to visit Harvey's Brewey Shop they are open from Tue-Sat, Anne of Cleves House is open Tue-Sun and the 15th Century Book Shop is open on a Sat and Sun only.
NOTE: This trip is not available to start between the 19 - 31 August 2023.
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.
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.
WalkingAdventure of the Week: South Downs Way3 Min Read17 October 2018
WalkingThe South Downs and the magnificent Seven Sisters Cliffs2 Min Read18 September 2017
WalkingThe South Downs - along the Way4 Min Read16 April 2013
WalkingSouth Downs Way Diary - Walking to the Seven Sisters3 Min Read30 January 2020