South Downs Way
This is the South Downs Way Page. It features an interactive map that is intended to help anyone planning a hike along the walk to plan the each days walking. To this end the path is clearly marked with alternating red and orange sections. Each section is 2 miles long.
Planning a walk on the South Downs Way
The South Downs Way Trail starts on the outskirts of Eastbourne, and ends at Winchester. Most people choose to walk this direction, it is also possible to cycle the length of the trail too. The total distance covers 100 miles. Much of the trail is on a well defined broad track.
The starting point of the South Downs Way Trail is best reached by getting the train to Eastbourne and then walking from the station down to the sea, turning right onto Grand Parade follow the shore onto King Edward's Parade and on to Duke's Drive where on a corner an area of scrub marks the start of the trail. At the far end Winchester also has a train station.
The trail is typically divided into the following sections, each section representing a day's walking. There is obviously no obligation to stick to this breakdown, and with this in mind the map below indicates the trail in two mile sections (alternating red and orange lines). This allows you to quickly choose a day's walking by counting sections up to the distance you feel comfortable with. This will depend on the type of terrain, but the South Downs Way Trail has the advantage of a broad track for much of it's length so the terrain is typically good.
Eastbourne to Alfriston
The section covers 10.5 miles. The first couple of miles leave the outskirts of Eastbourne and climb over a 140m hill and down to the beach. From here it heads west to Beachy Head and on to Cuckmere Haven (6 miles) where it veers north to Westdean through scruby grassland. After Westdean the trail passes through woodland and out into fields, following the Cuckmere river for the last mile or so into Alfriston.
Cumulative climb heading West: 418m. Cumulative climb heading East: 472m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (10.5/3)hrs + 42minutes = 4hours 12mins walking time heading West and 4hours 17minutes heading East.
Alfriston to A27 crossing
The section covers 13.75 miles. Out of Alfriston the trails climbs steadilly over grass-land to a peak of 208m at Firl Beakon after about 3 miles. The next 2 miles to White Lion Pond drop a cumulative 60m, still on a track through grazing land. A two mile strech into Southease looses the rest of the altitude in a gentle fashion, leaving the walker at just 1m above sea level. A steady ascent to 180m over 3 miles along a track bordering arable fields. This continues for another mile or so before dropping 130m over a two mile strectch, mostly through more grazing land to the A27.
Cumulative climb heading West: 500m. Cumulative climb heading East: 449m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (13.75/3)hrs + 50minutes = 5hours 25mins walking time heading West and 5hours 20minutes heading East.
A27 crossing to Pyecombe
The section covers 8.5 miles. It starts off running North from the A27 over a 110m hill and then taking a steady climb beside a combination of arable fields and scrubland, to a height of 210m, where the trail turns sharply west at a junction. About 2 miles after the turn the walker arrives at Ditchling Beacon (235m), followed about a mile later by another peak (230m) above Keymer (to the North). Then a gentle descent to the A23 near Pyecombe finishes the section.
Cumulative climb heading West: 261m. Cumulative climb heading East: 221m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (8.5/3)hrs + 26minutes = 3hours 16mins walking time heading West and 3hours 12minutes heading East.
Pycombe to Upper Beeding
The section covers 7 miles. From the A23 near Pyecombe the trail heads West, climbing from 90m to 200m and then down to 120m at Saddlescombe Rd. The it's straight back up to 200m again, passing by Devil's Dyke. The trail then Descends to 140m and spends about a mile going slightly up and down befre climbing back up to 200m or so by the Turligh Hill Youth Hostel. Then it is a steady descent over a couple of miles to the A283 just South of Upper Beeding.
Cumulative climb heading West: 274m. Cumulative climb heading East: 364m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (7/3)hrs + 27minutes = 2hours 47mins walking time heading West and 2hours 56minutes heading East.
Upper Beeding to Washington
The section covers 6.75 miles. From the A283 South of Upper Beeding the trail is initially quite flat for about half a mile, before climbing 130m over two miles where it then changes direction sharply from West to North. The climb then continues for about 2.5 miles, while the trail swings slowly back around to a Westerly heading, peaking at 230m on Chanctonbury Ring. An initally slight descent over 2/3 mile turns quite steep for another 2/3 mile, bottoming out at 100m by the A24 South of Washington. Here you can take the scenic route north through Washington and back down to the main trail, or opt for the more hazardous dash across the A24.
Cumulative climb heading West: 242m. Cumulative climb heading East: 190m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (6.75/3)hrs + 24minutes = 2hours 39mins walking time heading West and 2hours 34minutes heading East.
Washington to Amberley
The section covers 6 miles. From the A24 the trail climbs back to 200m over a mile, heading West. It then gently undulates (15m loss/gain) for about 3 miles before descending to about 10m at the B2139 South of Amberly.
Cumulative climb heading West: 183m. Cumulative climb heading East: 242m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (6/3)hrs + 18minutes = 2hours 18mins walking time heading West and 2hours 24minutes heading East.
Amberley to Cocking
The section covers 12 miles. From Amberly the trail still heads West, remaining faily flat for a bit over a mile, then climbing to 160m over about 2 miles. A slight descent is followed by a brief Southbound section, turning quickly West again to climb to 220m over a half mile. The trail continues at this altitude for two miles by arrable land and beside plantations, before dropping 100m to cross the A285, then climbing to 240m over about 2/3 mile onto Littleton Down. The rail then enters a wood briefly and continues along a laneway, descending slightly but undulating above 200m. This passes through and alongside woodland for several miles, before descending to 100m at Cocking Hill, just south of Cocking.
Cumulative climb heading West: 468m. Cumulative climb heading East: 376m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (12/3)hrs + 47minutes = 4hours 47mins walking time heading West and 4hours 38minutes heading East.
Cocking to Buriton
The section covers 11 miles. From Cocking Hill the trail climbs back to 230m over a mile and then undulates gently for another couple of miles before descending to 140m through a Wouth-West/North-West dog-leg. A flat half mile is followed by a climb to 210m where the trail again goes South for a short section, then North-West to North, loosing 40m elevation. Returning to a Westerly heading the trail climbs back to 210m, and promtly drops to 140m over the next mile. It then undulates about this level for the next couple of miles to a junction with Kiln Lane which leads to Buriton.
Cumulative climb heading West: 381m. Cumulative climb heading East: 331m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (11/3)hrs + 38minutes = 4hours 18mins walking time heading West and 4hours 13minutes heading East.
Buriton to Exton
The section covers 12.5 miles. From Buriton (Kiln Lane) the trail climbs 50m beside woodland then swinging South through the woods of Queen Elizabeth Country Park, descending 90m to the car park beside the A3. An underpass take the walker to the other side and a steep ascent up Butser Hill, topping out at 240m. This then remains fairly flat, heading West along lanes and tracks for several miles before turning sharply North at Mercury Park. The trail then descends to 110m over a couple of miles, all the while slowly swinging back around to a Westerly Heading, passing Whitewool Pond then climbing and dog-legging North follow Old Winchester Hill Lane Southwards, finishing at 200m where the trail leaves the lane to head West and descend for 2 miles to Exton, at an elevation of 60m.
Cumulative climb heading West: 377m. Cumulative climb heading East: 459m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (12.5/3)hrs + 38minutes = 4hours 48mins walking time heading West and 4hours 55minutes heading East.
Exton to Winchester
The section covers 12 miles. Leaving Exton, crossing fields in a North-West direction the trail climbs 200m over a mile, to the shoulder of Beacon Hill. Then a slight descent over another mile connects to Wheely Down Rd. Following the road to a crossroads where the trail takes a right turn followed by a left at the fork a little further on. Follow this road for slightly less than 2 miles where it meets the A272 at a T junction. Straight across the A272 the trail continues along a track between hedges to a field, where it turns North and then West again at the field corner. The trail continues mostly Westwards, after about 2 miles it turns South at a junction continues to again cross the A272 then turning West again and passing through Chilcomb. Two filds later a bridge crosses the M3 into the outskirts of Winchester. The South Downs Way finishes at the City Mill in Winchester.
Cumulative climb heading West: 266m. Cumulative climb heading East: 273m.
Naismith's rule would peg this at (12/3)hrs + 27minutes = 4hours 27mins walking time heading West and 4hours 27minutes heading East.
- National Trails South Downs Way
- South Downs Way guide with lots of good photos
- Accomodation along the South Downs Way
- Sussex South Downs Way Guide
It is also hoped to eventually provide a gallery of photos to help give an impression of the scenery on various stages of the walk.