Plan a Walking Trip for A Greener Holiday in 2019: Guide to South Downs Way

Walking holidays are a great way to get out and enjoy natural landscapes whilst getting some exercise too. They can be a real sense of achievement when you arrive at your destination with days of walking behind you. Plus, it is a green way to explore too. It can be challenging to know how to make your holiday eco-friendly holiday but why not start with taking walking trips that immerse yourself in nature.

One such walking trip you can take is South Downs Way. The whole of this trip can take between 6 and 9 days to walk depending on the route and how much ground you want to cover per day.  The hike will take you from Winchester to Eastbourne which covers a total of 104 miles. Here is an example of the route you can take over eight days.

Winchester to Exton – 12 miles

Starting at the historic Winchester, you will have chance to explore the ancient city and the tales of King Arthur, King Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror. Then make your way out to the Hampshire countryside, through fields and lanes up to Beacon Hill. Here you can look out to the beautiful scenery you will be exploring for the rest of your trip. Then make your way to the village of Exton for your first night. Admire the thatched cottages and the church of St Peter and Paul.

Exton to Buriton – 14 miles

Begin today along the banks of the River Meon, climbing up Old Winchester Hill then stop to admire the Iron Age settlement here. Then follow the path through the valley gradually ascending through fields to Coombe Cross. You’ll enjoy the scenic landscapes of Queen Elizabeth Country Park before talking a walk-through pretty woodland to reach the charming village of Buriton. Enjoy the historic town and stay at the Five Bells or Village Inn, where guests can also park too.

Buriton to Cocking – 12 miles

Image from

Now you are on the South Downs Way proper and you will traverse high tracks and woodland above South Harting, before travelling down to Cocking Down. Here you can stop for a well-earned rest at Moonlight Cottage Tea Rooms or the Blue Bell pub and restaurant. Before spending the night at your local accommodation.

Cocking to Amberley – 13 miles

Start you day towards Amberley through fields and woods, chalk tracks and rough fields. When you follow the track over Bignor Hill you will be satisfied to see spectacular views after your long climb. The move on to views of River Arun running through Amberley Wild Brooks. Follow the trail down towards the Arun valley towards the village of Amberley. If you have time, take a look around the village and explore the Amberley museum to learn more about the history of the area.

Amberley to Upper Beeding – 13 miles

The trail leads out to soft meadows and sprawling fields, passing above the town of Storrington before winding down to cross the footbridge near to Washington. This part of the route opens up and affords you some beautiful countryside views. Continue along the Chanctonbury Ring, above Steyning towards Bramber and on to Upper Beeding. Stop off at one of two pubs in the village, the Rising Sun and the Kings Head, for refreshments.

Upper Beeding to Kingston – 18 miles

From Upper Beeding you will encounter some amazing landmarks of the trail. These include Devil’s Dyke, the largest chalk coombe in the UK and the two windmills, Jack and Jill. After traversing more fields and meadow you will climb to the summit of Ditchling Beacon which is the highest point in Sussex. This is a place to get some absolutely amazing reviews. Then follow the undulating trail towards Kingston for your next night’s stay. Another pretty village that interestingly was mentioned in the Domesday Book 

Kingston to Alfriston – 11 milesI

Image from

Begin your walk across fields towards the ancient village of Southease and explore the strange church here. Then you cross the River Ouse, over more grasslands curving down towards the coast. Arrive at Firle Beacon looking out to Seaford Head and the beginning of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs Move on towards Bostal Hill for more amazing views then on to the village of Alfriston along an ancient shepherd’s track.

Alfriston to Eastbourne – 11 miles

Get ready for your final day, beginning with a walk through Friston Forest, to West Dean the through woodland to Exceat. Then follow the trail down to Cuckmere River and through the Seven Sisters Country Park on to Cuckmere Haven. The last spectacular sight of your walking holiday is the high chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

The final stretch passes the old Belle Tout lighthouse, to Beachy Head, high cliffs with the Beachy Head lighthouse below. Lastly you will make your way to Eastbourne and if you have the energy, enjoy the sights and celebrate at the end of your South Downs Way journey.

Where to stay along the route?

In order to make the most of your walking holiday an ensure your walking trip is a green one, you should think about your accommodation carefully. Keeping the local communities going is really important for responsible travel, so choosing small country hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and farm house accommodation are all great choices. Find places that are labelled eco-friendly and also consider camping for even less environmental impact during your holiday.

How fit do you need to be?

The trail is graded as easy to moderate, noted as a relatively easy National Trail which is clearly marked along the length of the path. The terrain can be varied but well-maintained paths take you along gentle downs and heathlands, farmland and woodland. Navigation is straightforward and you won’t encounter too many difficult ups or downs during the trail.

How to stay green on a walking holiday?

Of course, you must remember to look after the landscapes you are exploring, as well as enjoying your hike through the South Downs Way. This means leaving each place as you find it, picking up your rubbish and choosing where you stay carefully. You should respect all paths, the flora and fauna and try not to make any changes to the landscape as you travel. Sticking to the right paths and following well-trodden walkways, being careful not to have too much of an impact on the natural environment around you.

How about a walking holiday on the South Downs Way?

As you can see a holiday walking along this beautiful route is a great idea for those who love to walk and enjoy natural scenery. You can combine exercise and stunning landscapes as well as making sure you are travelling as green as can be. There are many different ways you can enjoy the South Downs Way route. Whether you want to travel the route with your own map and plan your stays yourself or book on an organised group tour that sorts out all the details for you. You can enjoy a South Downs way walking holiday however you choose is the best way for you.  

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.