Distance: 99 miles / 158 km

Grade: Easy

Direction: see text

7-8 days walking at 12-14 miles per day


The South Downs are the rounded, short cropped grass uplands that lie behind the chalk cliffs of the Channel coast. The paths are wide and unmistakable because the trail is also a bridleway. Guide books make this trail from east to west, but there is much to be said for the other direction. This way there is a magnificent climax after you descend from the downs and follow the swooping Sussex cliff-tops by Birling Gap, Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. Another reason is that the Hampshire section (a recent extension to the trail) is more wooded and enclosed while the eastern end is over true open downland. The river Arun, Adur and Cuckmere make spectacular sights from above as they meander in huge ox bow patterns to the sea. The path is rich in ancient monuments like Buster Hill, Ditchling Beacon and Chanctonbury Rings (prehistoric camps), the mysterious long man of Wilmington chalk figure, Roman villas, windmills and old churches are but a few things of interest along the Way.