South Downs Way

Best hikes in the world: The South Downs Way

Author: Rosie Fuller

In 2012 Adventure Travel celebrated its 100th issue and as part of this special celebratory edition, we put together a list of our favourite 100 hikes worldwide. There are examples from all sort of exotic locations such as Borneo and Madagascar as well as some closer to home in the UK and Europe. Now, we’re looking back on our picks of these incredible routes and will share one each week. First up, the wonderful South Downs Way…


The South Downs WayPhoto: Les Chatfield

If you’re looking for attractive wildlife, visible prehistory, fine pubs and pretty villages and a challenge, the 100 miles of the South Downs Way with about 4,150m (13,620ft) of ascent and descent,  is a great choice for you. Here you can experience some of the finest countryside between Winchester in Hampshire, and the white chalk cliffs at Eastbourne in East Sussex. The South Downs Way is one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales. The majority of the path is also a bridleway, so can be used by horse-riders and cyclists as well.

You can start the trail either in Winchester at the City Mill, or Eastbourne, at the western end of King Edward’s Parade. There are plenty of options for holiday cottages and accommodation along the trail.

 “The South Downs Way was the first multi-day walk I ever did – I was 16, it tipped it down every day and I loved it,” says AT editor Rosie Fuller, about the 100-mile path from Winchester to Eastbourne.

“Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters were the most memorable parts for me, but I’d love to go back and do it again in the dry to really appreciate the rest of the hike – classic downland, Hampshire’s rolling countryside and all the Iron Age remains that we were too wet to think about looking at. That said, it’s a classic ‘best of English’ path whatever the weather.”