Skip to content
Free UK delivery if you spend £45 or more
Free UK delivery if you spend £45 or more
Rich chalk grasslands, ancient woodland and clifftop views

Walking the South Downs Way

South Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
South Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
South Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
Beachy Head - South Downs Way National Trail - The Trails Shop
Mountain biking on the South Downs Way National Trail
Old Winchester Hill South Downs Way National Trail
South Downs Way National Trail - The Trail Shop
Beachy Head Lighthouse South Downs-Way The Trails Shop

About the South Downs Way National Trail

The 100 miles (160 Km) long South Downs Way National Trail follows old routes along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs between the ancient city of Winchester and the seaside resort of Eastbourne. Walking the South Downs Way provides you with an opportunity "to get away from it all" without having to travel too far in this busy part of England.


The South Downs Way runs entirely within the South Downs National Park. Running along a chalk ridge means that the Trail drains and dries out quickly making it good all year round and the elevated position ensures you are rewarded by breathtaking views across the English Channel and Isle of Wight to the south and over the heathland ridges of the Weald of Sussex to the north.


Whether you’re walking, on a mountain bike or on horseback the South Downs Way passes through a varied landscape of protected habitats including chalk rivers, rare species rich chalk grasslands and beautiful ancient woodland.


While walking the South Downs Way from Winchester you'll head into the gently rolling Hampshire countryside. You'll pass through pretty villages such as Chilcomb, Exton and Meonstoke and enjoy several natural reserves including Beacon Hill and Old Winchester Hill.


History lovers will be spoilt for choice, make sure you leave time to explore the Iron Age hill fort at Old Winchester Hill, the Bronze Age burial mounds near Treyford known as the Devil's Jumps, the mosaic floors at Bignor Roman Villa and Amberley Museum.


There are many breathtaking viewpoints along the trail with stunning views from Beacon Hill, Butser Hill (the highest point along the South Downs Way) and of course the amazing view from the cliffs between Cuckmere Haven and Beachy Head.  

Check Out Our South Downs Way Merchandise

Walking the South Downs Way doesn’t have to be completed in one go to enjoy the best it has to offer. You can find maps and merchandise, along with books that include short walks on the South Downs Way here: 

How Long Does Walking the South Downs Way Take, End to End? 

Most people take 8 or 9 days to walk the whole 100 miles (160km) at 12 – 15 miles (25km) a day. It’s worth considering if you are walking that the villages where accommodation is are at the foot of the hill so you’ll have to walk down in the evening and up in the morning.

Cycling the South Downs Way takes 2 or 3 days if you are used to off road cycling, it is possible to complete in a day but it is extremely challenging due to the 12,600ft (3800m) of climb as well as the 100 miles (160km) of distance.  

How Hard is Walking the South Downs Way? 

Anyone who is reasonably fit can walk the South Downs Way – if you can comfortably walk 12 miles (20km) in a day you shouldn’t have a problem. You’ll enjoy it more if you do a few long day walks beforehand to get fitter.

How Hard is Cycling the South Downs Way?

You should be used to off road cycling before you commit yourself to the South Downs Way, doing it in anything less than 3 days will require quite a high degree of fitness. The South Downs Way is much more of a challenge for horse riders because of the road crossings and logistics of accommodation for horses.

When Walking the South Downs Way, Which Direction Should I Go? 

Walking the South Downs Way can be completed in either direction, and of course you don’t have to do the whole Trail in one go. There are guidebooks describing the trail in both directions (the Aurum book is written east to west, the Trailblazer and Rucksack Readers guides are west to east and the Cicerone book includes both directions).

The mountain-biking guide by Cicerone describes the trail in three sections from Winchester to Eastbourne along with other mountain biking routes across the South Downs.

The Trail Officer’s personal recommendation is to start in the west at Winchester and head east, ending at Eastbourne. There are two reasons for this; one is that the wind will be behind you rather than in your face, making for a more comfortable journey. More importantly, whilst the Hampshire countryside is very attractive, the white chalk cliffs at Beachy Head are spectacular!

Who Can Enjoy Walking the South Downs Way National Trail? 


The National Trail has been developed for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. In some places the walkers route takes a slightly different line to the bridleway route.

The South Downs Way is open to mountain bikers and horse riders for the full 100 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester. Please be aware that in sections where the footpath and bridleway routes are separate, cyclists and horses must stick to the bridleway. This is most notable between Alfriston and Eastbourne at the eastern end of the Trail. The coastal route over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head is a footpath only and can not be ridden.

Cyclists and horse-riders must use the bridleway route past the ‘Long Man of Wilmington’ and through Jevington to Eastbourne. Winchester isn’t an ideal starting point for equestrians – if you are planning to ride the whole Trail it is advised to start or finish at Chilcomb village instead. This avoids the city centre and M3 bridge crossing. Chilcomb is a small village and is best suited as a setting down and picking up point only.  

Can I Bring My Dog While Walking the South Downs Way? 

Your dog is welcome on South Downs Way but as in any countryside setting, it must be under close control. Please remember that the South Downs is a farmed landscape and livestock are common, so try to avoid walking close to cows with calves. If you encounter any aggression, release your dog, do not try to pick it up. 

What is the Best Time of Year for Walking the South Downs Way? 

Walking the South Downs Way can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However it does get busier during school holidays and on weekends between May and September you should expect to come across larger organised events.

Can I Buy South Downs Way Merchandise?

We sell a range of South Downs Way merchandise including sew on badges, enamel badges, mugs and other merchandise.

Can I Buy a South Downs Way National Trail Completion Certificate?

Yes, our personalised South Downs Way completion certificate is a great momento for anyone that has completed the National Trail.

Guidebooks for the South Downs Way

South Downs Way South Downs Way loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way South Downs Way loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way South Downs Way loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way: Winchester to Eastbourne - Trailblazer South Downs Way: Winchester to Eastbourne - Trailblazer loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Trekking the South Downs Way Trekking the South Downs Way loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Walking the South Downs Way - guidebook with map - 5th edition Walking the South Downs Way - guidebook with map - 5th edition loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 604): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view

Maps for the South Downs Way

South Downs Way A-Z Adventure Atlas South Downs Way A-Z Adventure Atlas loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 825): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way Harvey map South Downs Way Harvey map loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 825): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way South Downs Way loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 825): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way Guidemap South Downs Way Guidemap loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 825): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view

South Downs Way Merchandise

National Trail Mug National Trail Mug loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way enamel badge South Downs Way enamel badge loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way woven sew-on badge - circular South Downs Way woven sew-on badge - circular loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way woven sew-on badge South Downs Way woven sew-on badge loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way woven patch badge South Downs Way woven patch badge loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way Outdoor Scratch Map South Downs Way Outdoor Scratch Map loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Personalised National Trail Sign Personalised National Trail Sign loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
National Trail souvenir signs National Trail souvenir signs loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Vintage South Downs Way signed print Vintage South Downs Way signed print loading
Sold out -33%
Wishlist
Quick view
Vintage travel greeting cards Vintage travel greeting cards loading
Sold out -45%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way map tote bag South Downs Way map tote bag loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Mini National Trail Fingerpost Mini National Trail Fingerpost loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Trail Tealight Holder Trail Tealight Holder loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Vintage travel signed prints Vintage travel signed prints loading
Sold out -33%
Wishlist
Quick view
National Trails boot jack National Trails boot jack loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Whan That Aprille Whan That Aprille loading
Sold out -59%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way 'contours' T-Shirt South Downs Way 'contours' T-Shirt loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way Art Print South Downs Way Art Print loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way Completion Certificate South Downs Way Completion Certificate loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
'Follow the acorn' National Trail Men's Compass Hoody 'Follow the acorn' National Trail Men's Compass Hoody loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
Metal Trail Artwork Metal Trail Artwork loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
National Trails 'Follow the acorn' Compass T-Shirt National Trails 'Follow the acorn' Compass T-Shirt loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way 'elevation profile' Men's T-Shirt South Downs Way 'elevation profile' Men's T-Shirt loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view
South Downs Way 'elevation profile' Women's T-Shirt South Downs Way 'elevation profile' Women's T-Shirt loading
Sold out -Liquid error (sections/layouthub-6185953ec223492ce0400082 line 1046): divided by 0%
Wishlist
Quick view

Map of the South Downs Way