The South Downs Way is an ideal choice for a first time walking holiday. A blend of relatively easy walking, beautiful landscape and delightful scenery along the Downs of Sussex and Hampshire, the route surpasses most expectations of a walking holiday in England.
Approximately 100 miles long, the South Downs Way begins in the historic cathedral city Winchester and finishes on the dazzling cliffs of Beachy Head, above the English Channel and seaside resort of Eastbourne.
The eastern section initially follows a ridge of chalk downland, where you are surrounded by a landscape straight out of Constable. The lower hills are a patchwork of grain crops surrounded by clumps of unmistakably English trees.
Several species of wild orchids can be found on the Downs, which also abound in butterflies. Moving higher up, cultivated fields give way to pastureland and acres of grassland quivering with poppies.
From high up on this chalk ‘desert’ it is possible to see how human habitation over 5,000 years has shaped the landscape. There are huge Bronze Age barrows, the Devil’s Jumps, and tumuli (3,000 year old burial mounds). Elsewhere are earthwork circles, signs of prehistoric agricultural enclosures, and cross dykes that are carved across the hills.
The Trail mostly runs along the crest of the Downs, but also drops down into river valleys and charming villages with fine old pubs, thatched cottages and churches. One of the most attractive villages is Alfriston, its parish church, called the ‘Cathedral of the Downs’, while Lullington is a Norman village hiding the ‘smallest church in England’.
Your walk ends on a high note, on what some consider being the most striking section of the South Downs Way, the walkers-only spectacular coastal route over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.
Our team would be delighted to talk to you about an itinerary for a walking holiday on the South Downs Way.
Celtic Trails has 20 years’ experience providing tailored, quality itineraries for walkers who appreciate good service, comfort and organisation.