South Downs Walks
Please use the links below to view full route information including descriptions, elevation profiles, interactive maps and GPS downloads.
You can also view an overview map of all the routes in the using the South Downs Walk Map
|Arundel Castle and Arundel Park||9 miles (14 km)||This walk takes you through the parkland and countryside surrounding this restored medieval castle in West Sussex. The walk starts near the castle and picks up the Monarch's Way long distance walking trail to take you into Arundel park. You'll pass Swanbourne Lake and follow footpaths through woodland and grassland to the River Arun. The route then follows a lovely riverside footpath back towards the castle. You'll pass the splendid Arundel Wetland Centre where you can look out for a wide variety of wildlife including water voles and rare geese.
The castle itself is well worth visiting with lovely gardens and a fascinating history, though there is a fee for entry to the grounds.|
The Slindon Estate is located just a few miles to the west of the castle so you could continue your walking in the area by visiting this 1400 hectare estate.
|Black Down||4 miles (6 km)||Climb to the highest point in the South Downs on this challenging route in Sussex. The area is run by the National Trust and includes a series of well defined paths taking you to flower-rich meadows, ancient woodland and copses. There are fabulous views over the Weald from the Temple of the Winds, at the southern end of Black down. The English Channel can also be seen through the River Arun gap on a clear day. The circular route below starts at the car park near the Temple of the Winds and takes you north across Black Down to Boarden Door Bottom.|
Cyclists can also enjoy a number of easy bridleways or more challenging mountain bike trails which run across the area.
The Sussex Border Path walking trail runs through Black Down so you could pick up this trail and head west to the nearby Marley Common to continue your walk.
Black Down is located just a few miles south of Haslemere town centre.
|Cuckmere River and Cuckmere Haven||10 miles (16 km)||This lovely waterside walk takes you along the Cuckmere River from Alfriston to the beautiful Cuckmere Haven on the south coast. The walk starts in Alfriston and follows the riverside path to Exceat, passing the famous chalk White Horse on the way. You continue to the coast and Cuckmere Haven where you will find a shingle beach and wonderful views of the Seven Sisters Cliffs. The route then passes along the beach and picks up the The South Downs Way to take you into the popular Seven Sisters Country Park. In the park there are 700 acres of parkland with wonderful views over the South Downs.|
The walk continues to Exceat where you cross the bridge and follow the footpath along the western side of the river to Alfriston. It's a super walk and very flat and easy apart from a short climb on the coastal section. The area is also a nature reserve with species-rich chalk grassland and wildflowers. Look out for wildlife which includes a variety of butterflies and wildfowl.
If you enjoy this walk then you could try the Long Man of Wilmington walk which also starts in Alfriston and takes you up to the iconic chalk figure.
|Devils Dyke||2 miles (4 km)||This circular walk explores this beautiful V-Shaped Valley near Brighton. The valley stretches for about a mile through the South Downs. It is the longest, deepest and widest 'dry valley' in the UK. The area is criss crossed with footpaths and bridleways making it an ideal location for walking and mountain biking. As well as stunning views across the south downs you will pass lovely meadows with a variety of flowers, an Iron Age Hill Fort and the remains of a Victorian funfair. In the summer months you can enjoy a sea of pink Orchids with a variety of butterflies including Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and silver spotted skipper. You can easily extend your walk by heading east onto Newtimber Hill where you will find one of the finest examples of chalk grassland in the country, ancient woodland and rare plants and flowers such as burnt orchid and juniper tree.
Also on the route is the Devils Dyke Pub where you can have some lunch while enjoying some wonderful views.|
This route starts at the parking area at the western end of Devils Dyke and makes use of the the South Downs Way and other footpaths to take you around the Dyke. The area is managed by the National Trust so there are good footpaths and an excellent cafe.
This route is designed for walkers but there are many bridleways running across the area so mountain bikers can enjoy the Dyke too.
If you'd like to extend your walk you could follow the South Downs Way east and visit Ditchling Beacon - the highest point in East Sussex.
|Ditchling Beacon||5 miles (8 km)||Climb to the highest point in East Sussex and enjoy wonderful views of the Weald and the Downs on this circular walk. The lovely chalk grassland of the area is covered with a variety of flowers and plants during the summer months. Look out for marjoram, thyme and different types of orchid with butterflies such as the Chalkhill Blue flying around them. |
The walk begins in the village of Ditchling just to the north of Ditchling Beacon and follows the Sussex Border Path to Burnhouse Bostall. You then pick up the South Downs Way and head to the beacon passing the Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve on the way. You then descend to Ditchling following bridleways past Wick Farm and Stoneywish Country Park.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could head west along the The South Downs Way to the beautiful Devils Dyke.
The video below shows the area well from about 7:00 minutes on.
|Downs Link||36 miles (58 km)||This is a terrific walking or cycling path running from St Martha's Hill to Shoreham-by-Sea and linking the North and South Downs National Trails.|
You start on St Martha's Hill will terrific views of the Surrey countryside before heading south to Cranleigh along the Wey and Arun Canal. The path continues to Rudgwick and then onto the delightful Southwater Country Park. The next stage takes you to Henfield and then onto Bramber with its ruined castle. The final stage runs along the River Adur taking you to Shoreham-by-Sea.
|Firle Beacon||4 miles (6 km)||This circular walk takes you to the splendid Firle Beacon in the South Downs. The route makes use of the The South Downs Way and various bridleways and country lanes to take you to the beacon from the pretty village of Firle.|
The start point for the walk is the little village of Firle, located just a few miles from Lewes. You can enjoy a stroll through the village with its three pubs, old church, cricket green and little pond. You will also pass Firle Place and its surrounding grounds. The old manor house was first built in the late 15th century by Sir John Gage. The route follows a bridleway around the grounds of the house before ascending to Firle Beacon. From the 712 feet (217 m) summit there are wonderful views over the Weald towards the south coast. The Firle Escarpment is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The large area of chalkland is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Look out for the rare spider orchid Ophrys sphegodes and Exmoor Ponies as you make your way through this lovely area.
From the beacon summit you descend on the South Downs Way before picking up Firle Bostal country lane to take you back to the village. This lane is shown on the google street view link below.
It's easy to extend your walk by continuing west from the beacon along the South Downs Way to Beddingham Hill. Another option is to start the walk from the nearby village of Alfriston on the Cuckmere River. You can then follow the South Downs Way to the beacon via Bostal Hill.
You could also visit the lovely Mount Caburn Nature Reserve with its interesting plants, flowers and wildlife.
|Friston Forest||5 miles (8 km)||Enjoy miles of cycling and walking trails in this large forest on the South Downs near Eastbourne. There are trails for mountain bikers ranging from gentle off road trails to an exhilarating single track ride. There are two fairly easy waymarked trails for walkers. Look out for wildlife including rare butterflies and deer. |
This circular route starts at the car park and takes you along some of the bridleways in the forest. It also visits the pretty village of West Dean.
It's easy to extend your outing by visiting the nearby Cuckmere River and Cuckmere Haven and Seven Sisters Country Park. You could also pick up the The South Downs Way which runs past the forest.
|Harting Down||3 miles (5.5 km)||This large area of chalk downland on the South Downs is managed by the National Trust. It's a wonderful place to go for a walk with splendid views over the downs and an abundance of flora and fauna. The area is covered with wild herbs, wild flowers and pyramidal orchids attracting butterflies such as the Duke of Burgundy fritillary and the Grizzled Skipper. |
This circular walk starts in the National Trust car park and follows the South Downs Way to Beacon Hill - the highest point on Harting Down. The route then heads to Little Round Down where you will follow woodland trails through a large area of Yew woodland. Look out for wren, thrush and finch in this area. The final section climbs Harting Hill through more woodland to return you to the car park.
It's a splendid area with fabulous views across the Weald, the North Downs and towards the coast and the Isle of Wight. Look out for Fallow deer, Turtle Dove and Skylark on the downs.
The whole of this route is designed for walkers but you can mountain bike across Harting Down on the South Downs Way from the car park to Beacon Hill.
|Highdown Hill and Highdown Gardens||3 miles (5 km)||This walk visits Highdown Gardens before climbing Highdown Hill in the South Downs. The walk begins at the car park at Highdown Gardens. Both the gardens and parking are free, though you are free to make a donation if you wish. You can then follow a series of footpaths through the park with its beautiful collection of rare plants and trees. The chalk gardens are situated on Downland countryside with wonderful views towards the sea. Highlights include two pretty ponds with fish, toads and newts, a Himalayan Birch Bark Cherry Avenue, a Rose Garden and a Herb Garden. |
After touring the gardens you can then continue your walk to Highdown Hill. The hill stands at 81 metres (266 ft) and is a popular spot for walkers. From the summit there are wonderful views of the coast including the Seven Sisters and the Isle of Wight.
Highdown Hill and Highdown Gardens are located in between Littlehampton and Worthing.
|Hinton Ampner||1 miles (1 km)||Explore the beautiful gardens surrounding this stately home near New Alresford in Hampshire. Here you will find cloud topiary, a walled garden, a sunken garden and fabulous views over the South Downs. You can also extend your walk into the wider estate. Head east towards Joan's acre wood where you will find ancient woodland and an abundance of wildlife. |
You could also pick up the Itchen Way or Wayfarer's Walk which run past the estate.
|Itchen Way||31 miles (50 km)||Follow the River Itchen from its mouth at Woolston to its source near Hinton Ampner on this beautiful waterside walk. |
You start near Woolston station near Southampton Docks and head north through Southampton and a lovely riverside park near Swaythling. The path continues past Southampton Airport and through Eastleigh before arriving at Winchester with its impressive cathedral. Here you can take a small detour to climb the lovely St Catherine's Hill and enjoy fine views over the town below, the River Itchen and the surrounding countryside of the South Downs.
From Winchester you then turn east towards Itchen Abbas and New Arlesford with the final section passing through Cheriton and finishing at National Trust owned Hinton Ampner.
|Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve||4 miles (7 km)||Enjoy a walk around this interesting and beautiful Nature Reserve in the South Downs, near Chichester. There are well defined paths with fabulous views over the South Downs towards the south coast. The reserve also contains one of the finest yew forests in Europe, including a grove of ancient trees which are among the oldest living things in Britain.|
If you have time you could continue your walk along the Monarch's Way to Stoughton where you can buy refreshments at the local pub.
|Lavington Common||3 miles (5.5 km)||Enjoy a peaceful stroll across the Lavington and Duncton Commons on this easy walk near Midhurst in West Sussex. There's miles of good footpaths taking you across attractive heathland and woodland. It's a great place for wildlife with woodlark, nightjar, tree pipits, stonechat and reptiles including the rare sand lizard. The site also includes Merlin's Wood with its tunnel of rhododendrons. You can pick up the trails from the car park on Duncton Common Road. Heading west will take you across Lavington Common while heading east takes you across Duncton Common where there are more woodland trails and a pretty stream.|
The Serpent Trail long distance footpath runs across the common so it's easy to extend your walk. If you head west the trail will take you to Iping Common and Stedham Common where there are more nice heathland trails and a large pond. The The South Downs Way passes across Graffham Down just a mile to the south of the common.
|Long Man of Wilmington||5 miles (8.5 km)||Climb to this iconic figure on Windover Hill on this splendid circular walk in the South Downs. The walk begins in the village of Alfriston on the Cuckmere River and follows the South Downs Way to the Long Man. It's a fairly easy climb on a good path with splendid views of the South Downs and the coast to enjoy. From the high point you descend to Litlington passing the delightful Lullington Heath Nature Reserve on the way. It's a lovely area made up of chalk heath with heather and bell heather, surrounded by gorse bushes. At Litlington you pick up the Vanguard Way and enjoy a lovely waterside section along the Cuckmere River which takes you back to Alfriston. |
If you enjoy this walk then you could try the Cuckmere River and Cuckmere Haven walk which also starts from Alfriston.
|Meon Valley Trail||9 miles (15 km)||This peaceful cycling and walking trail runs along a disused railway track from West Meon to Wickham. There are splendid views of the beautiful Meon Valley and the River Meon to enjoy as well as a variety of wildlife including butterflies, redwing and egrets.|
|Midhurst Way||19 miles (31 km)||Starting at the striking Arundel Castle, head north through some beautiful Sussex countryside to Midhurst.
The path passes Houghton Forest, Westburton Hill, Bignor, Chingford, Petworth and Lodsworth with fabulous views of the South Downs as you go.
There are several attractions on the route including the splendid Arundel Castle, near the start of the walk. The castle dates from the 11th century and boasts exquisite, stately rooms and magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun.
The path also passes very near to Petworth House and Petworth Park which holds the 'National Trust's finest art collection displayed in a magnificent 17th century mansion within a beautiful 700-acre park'. The walk also offers fine views of the Rivers Rother and Arundel while also passing the ruins of the fascinating Cowdray House near Midhurst.
This route is quite accessible beginning at Arundel train station while finishing at the bus station at Midhurst.
|Mount Caburn||4 miles (7 km)||This walk visits the delightful Mount Caburn Nature Reserve in the South Downs. You can reach the reserve by following a footpath from the centre of Lewes. It's just over 2 miles to the reserve from the town with the route crossing the River Ouse before passing Malling Down Nature Reserve, Ranscombe Camp hill, Oxteddle Bottom and Caburn Bottom. |
The reserve consists of managed chalk downland and a Bronze Age hill fort. There is also a wide variety of flora and fauna to look out for. This includes the largest British population of burnt-tip orchid and pyramidal orchids. There are also many different types of wildflowers such as Sweet briar, Marjoram and the bright yellow horseshoe vetch. These attract various butterflies including Adonis, chalkhill blue butterfly and silver-spotted skippers. It's also great for bird watching with Skylarks, meadow pipits, yellowhammers, corn bunting, kestrels, peregrine falcon and buzzards to look out for.
The summit of Mount Caburn stands at 480-feet (146m) and consists of an Iron Age Hill Fort. There are wonderful views of Lewes, Glynde, Firle and the South Downs to enjoy.
After climbing the hill you could visit the delightful Little Cottage Tea Rooms and enjoy a cream tea. The tea rooms are located just to the south of the reserve on Ranscombe Lane.
A shorter, alternative route to the reserve is to start from Glynde Bridge. There is a train station and parking area about a mile from the hill.
If you would like to extend your walking in the area then you could head to the nearby Firle Beacon. It is located just a few miles to the south east and offers great views over the Weald towards the south coast.
|New Lipchis Way||37 miles (60 km)||This is an exceptionally lovely walking trail that runs from Liphook, in Hampshire, to East Head at the entrance to Chichester Harbour. The path takes you through some of the loveliest parts of West Sussex including greensand ridges,
Wealden river valleys, heathlands, high chalk downland and then finally the coastal plain at Chichester.|
The first section of the walk runs from Liphook to Midhurst, passing through Woolbeding Common before a waterside section along the River Rother takes you to Midhurst.
From Midhurst you continue south through countryside and woodland to Singleton where you will find the fascinating Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. The museum covers 50 acres, with around 50 historic buildings dating from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries, along with gardens, farm animals, walks and a lake.
The next section then takes you to Chichester, and includes a climb to the top of St Roche's hill where you can enjoy splendid views of the South Downs. Soon after you join a short easy section along a dismantled railway line through Lavant and onto the beautiful cathedral city of Chichester.
The final section then takes you along the Chichester Ship Canal and the Chichester Channel to West Wittering with splendid views of Chichester Harbour as you go.
|Old Winchester Hill||9 miles (14 km)||This walk takes you up the 197 metres (646 ft) Old Winchester Hill in the South Downs. The hill and surrounding area is a National Nature Reserve with a wide variety of butterflies and wildlife to look out for. These include buzzards, kites, roe deer and foxes. The area is made largely of chalk grassland with extensive scrub and many orchid species. There is also an Iron Age hill fort and earlier Bronze Age barrows and burial mounds.|
This circular walk starts at the village of Meonstoke and makes use of the South Downs Way to take you to Old Winchester Hill before returning via Warnford and Beacon Hill. There are super panoramic views of the South Downs and the Meon Valley from the high points. On a clear day you may even be able to see the Isle of Wight.
If you'd like to continue your walk then you could pick up the South Downs Way or the Monarch's Way which run past the hill.
|Parham House||2 miles (4 km)||Explore the parkland and gardens surrounding this Elizabethan House near Storrington. The gardens include a four-acre Walled Garden, herbaceous borders, a glasshouse, vegetable garden, orchard and a 1920s Wendy House. You can also enjoy a stroll in the extensive pleasure grounds which include a lake, a 19th century summer house, a maze, specimen trees and wild orchids.|
Head into the 875 acre estate on the public footpath and you will find peaceful woodland and a deer park with a herd of 350 fallow deer. There is also an 18th century dovecote and ice house.
Inside the house there is a Great Hall and Long Gallery with fine furniture and paintings.
|Queen Elizabeth Country Park||5 miles (8.5 km)||Explore 2000 acres of of open access woodland and downland in the South Downs on this circular walk or cycle in Hampshire. Highlights in the park include Butser Hill - the highest point on the South Downs with views to the Isle of Wight. There is also a Visitors centre where you can sign up for a guided walk.|
The park is very popular with mountain bikers with several off road trails running through the park. See the video below for example of what you can expect.
|River Adur and Bramber Castle||4 miles (6 km)||Follow a waterside path along the River Adur to Bramber Castle on this walk in West Sussex.|
|Seven Sisters Country Park||3 miles (5.5 km)||Explore nearly 700 acres of parkland and coast on this delightful route through the South Downs. The Country Park is named after the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs on the Sussex Heritage Coast. On the route you will enjoy fabulous views of the Cuckmere river before heading towards the beautiful coastline.|
There are a number of footpaths and trails in the Park - further information and trail maps can be found in the Visitor Centre. Cycling is permitted on the valley floor and there is a concrete track which offers access to the beach.
If you'd like to continue your walking in the area then you could pick up the Cuckmere River footpath and head towards Alfriston and climb up to the Long Man of Wilmington.
|Slindon Estate||7 miles (10.5 km)||The Slindon Estate is a fantastic place for walkers and cyclists with miles of footpaths and bridleways to follow through the 1400 hectare estate. It is made up of a variety of habitats including woodland, downland, farmland, and parkland. All the while there are wonderful views over the Weald, the South Downs and the coast with the Isle of Wight beyond.|
This circular walk starts at the village of Slindon on Butt Lane and climbs towards Bignor Hill and Gumber Corner. Here you pick up the Stane Street Roman Road and the Monarch's Way which leads you into a long woodland section through Nore Wood. It's a lovely section with bluebells, wild flowers and other woodland plants to enjoy. The final section takes you back to Slindon passing the eye-catching Nore Hill Folly.
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could head a few miles to the east and enjoy a walk around Arundel Castle and Arundel Park with a riverside stretch along the River Arun.
The Slindon Estate is located close to Chichester, Arundel and Bognor Regis.
|St Catherine's Hill Winchester||1 miles (1.5 km)||Climb this small hill in Winchester for fine views over the town, the River Itchen and the surrounding countryside of the South Downs. It's a very pretty area with the chalk downland covered in wild flowers including bird's-foot trefoil, salad burnet, dropwort and several types of orchid. This attracts 25 different types of butterfly such as marbled white, chalkhill blue and brown argus. There are also the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort, a 17th/18th century mizmaze and a copse of beech trees containing the site of a 12th century chapel. |
There is a car park just north of the hill where you can pick up the footpaths to the hill. You could also walk from the centre of town which is only about a mile away. If you're coming by bike then National Cycle Network route 23 runs right past the hill along the river.
To turn this into a longer circular walk descend the hill and head south along the River Itchen to St Cross Bridge. Cross the bridge and then return on the other side of the river to Winchester College and the town.
If you'd like to extend your walk then you could pick up the Itchen Way and enjoy a stroll along the River Itchen. If you were to head north along the trail you would soon come to the lovely Winnal Moors Nature Reserve. Here you will find nice footpaths taking you to chalk stream, tall fen, hay meadow and wet pasture, with a wide variety of wildlife to look out for.
|West Dean Estate||4 miles (6 km)||This walk takes you around the beautiful gardens, woodland and arboretums in the West Dean Estate near Chichester. The gardens are particularly lovely with a Walled Kitchen Garden, a spectacular 300 foot-long Edwardian Pergola, a Spring Garden and a beautiful parkland walk with views over the South Downs. There are also views of the River Lavant and the wonderful West Dean College building.|
|West Sussex Literary Trail||55 miles (89 km)||This walk runs from Horsham to Chichester with many literary connections along the way. The walk begins at Horsham, near Percy Bysshe Shelley's millennium fountain, and heads through the South Downs to Chichester with its connections to William Blake and John Keats.|
You will pass through a series of interesting and picturesque towns and villages including Sinfield, Storrington, Amberley and Duncton before finishing near the iconic cathedral in Chichester.
There are many fascinating landmarks and points of interest on the way but of particular note are some of the musuems on the route. First on the path is the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre. Set in a 36 acre site it details the industrial heritage of the South East with a a narrow-gauge railway and nostalgic bus service to experience.
Also on the route is the delightful Parham House. Located near Storrington, this Elizabethan House boasts a Great Hall and Long Gallery, while the Gardens consist of seven acres of Pleasure Grounds.
Finally, there is the fascinating Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester. The museum boasts '45 historic houses and agricultural buildings dating from the 13th century to victorian times rebuilt in a magnificent parkland setting'.
Other walk highlights include waterside stretches along the River Arun and around Burton Mill Pond and several wooded sections at various points along the walk.
|Woolmer Forest||3 miles (5.5 km)||This large area of heathland and woodland has public footpaths to follow from the hamlet of Conford in the north eastern part of the site. It is a significant area with a diversity of habitats supporting twelve known native species of reptiles and amphibians. Scenery includes oak-birch woodland, conifer plantations, open sandy heaths, and rough grazed pastures. There's lots of interesting plants and flowers to look out for. Also keep your eyes peeled for birds such as Dartford warbler and European nightjar.|
N.B The Forest is a Range Danger Area and it is illegal and dangerous to enter when the red flags are flying. Access is NOT permitted most weekdays between 8am and 4pm and some weekends.
The woods are located very close to Liphook. You could follow footpaths from the town to the site. The National Trust managed Ludshott Common and Bramshott Common are located just to the east. These are good options if you would like to extend your walking in the area.