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Traveller Rating


  • self guided walk
  • 9 nights in guesthouses and country inns
  • 10 Breakfasts

10 Days£1270GBP


Trip Code: WSD

Trip highlights

  • Rolling Landscapes of Southern England
  • Coastal Walking Along Beachy Head and Seven Sisters
  • Historic Towns of Winchester and Lewes

The complete South Downs Way, stretching for a hundred miles over a rare large area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in crowded southern Britain, follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the North of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast. At intervals the hilly downlands are broken by “wind gaps” or river valleys, mixing the ridge walking with some meandering visits to beautiful rivers such at the Cuckmere, Arun, Ouse and Meon with their associated villages. Most of the route is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. There are many historical features, including a couple of remaining round towered Saxon churches, ancient “Dew Ponds” providing water on the high Downs for cattle, cross dykes and tumulus burial sites, Bronze Age hill forts and rings. The weather on average is some of the best you could find in the British Isles, and soft boots or even trekking shoes are generally advised, as the surfaces are often –but not universally - dry and firm. The tour is accessible easily from London and the Southeast by the railways. The original ‘Way’ extended the 80 miles or so between Eastbourne and Buriton near Petersfield, but was extended in the late 1980s to Winchester making it exactly 100 miles. This is generally a leisurely paced walk enabling those who want, to spend a bit of extra time looking at some old churches, or dawdling by Cuckmere Haven, picnicking or pubbing up on some high down, or looking around lowland villages. There are however a couple of long days, largely due to the remoteness of convenient enroute accommodation. For this reason we have to compromise and there is a range in the quality of the overnight stops that we may use.

Starting Point:


Finishing Point:


Make your own way to Winchester. You may wish to spend some extra time to explore this gem of a town - the ancient capital of England and the Kingdom of Wessex before that. The cathedral has the longest nave in Britain and there is a beautiful walk down through the water meadows to St. Cross. Where a “Dole” of bread and Ale can still be obtained from the monastic buildings. Accommodation: The Wykeham Arms is our first choice accommodation and is situated between the Cathedral and the 14th century college. However we use a variety of accommodation in this busy town.

Meals:  B

The route ascends out from Winchester, old England’s Saxon capital, onto the downs at Chilcomb - an old manorial parish. Until the Meon Valley the scenery is undulating and agricultural, a warm up without being dramatic. You reach the attractive Meon valley via Beacon Hill with its rare spring and summer plant life. The Hampshire Downs then open up and roll on as you pass field after field. At around lunchtime, the necklace of Meon Valley villages: Exton, Corhampton and Meonstoke are all within a mile of each other and are beautiful places to river watch and to quaff beer by as the Meon River is a real gem! The River Meon is a very healthy, clean chalk stream. The climb from here up towards Old Winchester Hill is long and steep in its latter stages, so take your time. To start with, ascend beside a beautiful clear chalk stream in which you may see Brown Trout gliding about. The site is a National Nature Reserve and Iron Age fortress from where the Isle of Wight can be seen on a clear day. Accommodation: Ye Olde George Inn is a delightful 15th century coaching inn, The RiverMeon runs by the side of the inn.

Meals:  B

From East Meon, climb back onto the downs. The route then undulates into some vast arable and wooded countryside passing the strange village of Mercury Park. The Way climbs over Butser Hill with Bronze Age field patterns etched upon it. The path then descends through the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. You’ll be winding around above the attractive villages of Buriton and South Harting. Accommodation: We use either The Blue Bell Inn is the village pub and is now owned by the local community. Or Hyesett House BB which your host will make you more than welcome.

Meals:  B

The route undulates across the scarp slope of the Downs, soon entering dark and sometimes muddy woodland before ascending to the highest point on the South Downs near CrownTegleaze at 253m. Descending into the dry valley, there is then a steep climb over Burton Down and then Bignor Hill (225m); where there is a footpath off The Downs to the Roman Villa remains at Bignor. Descend very steeply to cross a footbridge over the River Arun and into Amberley along New Barn Road. Here you are in an attractive Triptych of villages: Amberley, Houghton and Bury on the lazily meandering River Arun. This is a beautiful rural setting, looking up at Downs rather than down from Ups. There are many interesting historical features today including a couple of minutes on the Roman Road called Stane Street that connected Chichester with London. You could practice your navigation trying to find the Neolithic Camp just off the route. Chichester Cathedral is also visible seaward at some points. Accommodation: Our accommodation The Sportsman offers home from home hospitality in a traditional inn with log fires.

Meals:  B

Walking steeply up to rejoin the route. The trail etches its way with views over the River Arun, fields and through pockets of forest continuing above Storrington before dropping 100m to Washington. The trail climbs once again to reach the fascinating Chanctonbury Ring – a Bronze Age hill fort settlement with one or two ghost stories attached to it. A bit more undulating and you end with a steep descent into Steyning. Accommodation: We use a variety of accommodation here.

Meals:  B

From Steyning, ascend back to the downs. Follow the footpaths to the east of the town such as the ‘Downs Link Path’ from Bramber along the Valley of the Adur to the hills or the ‘Monarch’s Way’ through Upper Beeding and back up onto the downs. Watch out for ancient historical features such as Tumuli burial mounds and cross dykes. Passing another great viewpoint at Edburton Hill, the way undulates to over 200 metres, before descending around the ‘Devil’s Dyke’ – said to be the World’s largest chalk dry valley. There is a modern pub restaurant here which does bar and restaurant food, great views and circular walks that you can do if you want to spend more time on the heights. Via Saddlescombe there is a steep ascent over Westhill bringing you then steeply down to village of Pyecombe. Accommodation: Tallai House is a guesthouse with only 2 rooms.

Meals:  B

Ascend out of Pyecombe near Clayton, passing lark filled skies and the white “Jack and Jill“ Clayton windmills greet you. Today, following mainly grassy tracks, you go over the highest point directly on the route at Ditchling Beacon 248 m. You may find an ice cream van up here in summer. There are no real difficulties today, although the climb up from the road is pretty steep. The South Downs Way undulates between large fields and long slopes. You then leave the South Downs way footpath to drop steeply off the downs into the vibrant town of Lewes and your accommodation. If you have time visit the castle and Anne of Cleve's House. Accommodation: We may use several places in Lewes, but we tend to use a charming pub owned by the Harvey's brewery group called Dorset House, which has 6 ensuite rooms.

Meals:  B

A couple of big climbs today. You have to re-ascend back up to the South Downs from Lewes, then undulate to Rodmell where fans of the Bloomsbury group of Bohemian artists, will be delighted to know that Rodmell Village has a pub and the “Monk’s House” is where Virginia Woolf used to live. Then the trail descends to Southease and crosses the valley of the River Ouse and steeply ascends back up the South Downs to the Firle Beacon 217 m and another great viewpoint. You may consider coming off the hills to visit the villages of west Firle, Alciston and Berwick. These tiny villages all have associations with the Bloomsbury Group and Berwick Church has some interesting paintings. Eventually you drop into Alfriston with its beautiful church, water meadows and the historic Star Inn. Accommodation: Riverdale House is an elegant and spacious Victorian property with 3 well appointed rooms each are ensuite. The house enjoys spectacular views across the Cuckmere Valley.

Meals:  B

From Alfriston follow the meandering aquamarine elegance of the Cuckmere River firstly along the river bank and then by the village of Litlington, the path then takes you up onto the downs above the river, passing points where you can appreciate its meanders. At Cliff End you turn to the East and follow the roller-coaster trail over The Seven Sisters, a series of iconic chalk cliffs to Beachy Head with its famous lighthouse. From here the trail continues on beside the sea before descending steeply off the hills via Holywell. Finally enter the outskirts of Eastbourne and walk along the Victorian Promenade to the Victorian Pier which makes an appropriate place to end the South Downs Way. You may wish to book another night to relax and maybe take a dip in the sea. Accommodation: We use a variety of accommodation in this busy seaside town.

Meals:  B



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


  • 9 breakfasts
  • 9 nights accommodation in guesthouses and country inns on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 pack per room booked)
  • Emergency Hotline
  • GPX file of the route

  • Lunch, Dinner and drinks
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip
  • Excess Luggage
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Guide - this is a self guided holiday





We grade the tour as 'Moderate' , straight forward undulating walking, often on farm tracks and chalk down. Day Stages: 9.5 miles / 15.2km to 18 miles / 29 km. From 4 to 7 hours walking.

Departure dates

Daily from 31 Mar to 22 Sep (except 12 - 29 Aug)


High Season

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single Supplement 2024GBP£730
  • Solo Traveller Supplement 2024GBP£770
  • Single Supplement 2025GBP£800
  • Solo Traveller Supplement 2025GBP£800
*Prices listed are per person

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes if you are anywhere near London! There are many trains a day both down to Winchester and back up from Eastbourne.

You will have to drop off the route and off the downs on a couple of occasions to reach your overnight stops. This is the case especially at Steyning and Lewes. Lewes is 3 miles off the route.

Plenty of different things to see from Winchester Cathedral to Alfiston Church, delightful villages, wind-mills, prehistoric features, the Seven Sisters, Eastbourne Pier and of course great views

Generally chalk and grassland. Chalk is a soft limestone and can be loose and slippery in places and after rain. The trail is generally undulating with some fairly long ascents and descents as you cross the various river valleys on this walk.

Although you will walk on top of the Seven Sisters, you will not see them from the walk. However leaving Alfriston, you walk to Exceat, where you can leave the route and walk by the Cuckmere River to the old coast guard cottages from where you get that classic view. You have to return the same way to re-join the South Downs Way, and the additional distance to the day is approx 4 miles

Trip reviews

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Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

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