Find out about the 15 National Trails providing over 4000km of well-managed paths which offer walking, riding and cycling experiences through some of the finest countryside in England and Wales, officially designated by Natural England (formerly the Countryside Agency).
Location: Southern England.
Length:: 160km (100 miles) (bridleway route is 8km (5 miles) shorter).
Average number of days to complete:: 8 walking, 3 cycling.
Users:: 100% for walkers, horse riders and cyclists except at Alfriston / Eastbourne and the Meon Valley where there are split bridleway and footpath routes.
Highest point:: Ditchling Beacon 248m (814ft).
Start point: The Youth Hostel at City Mill, Water Lane, Winchester.
Finish point: The Western End of Eastbourne Promenade.
Landscape:: Wide grassy or flinty tracks on chalk downland, grazed by sheep on the hills with arable crops below. 100% within Sussex Downs and East Hampshire designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The western part of the downs is rolling farmland, the West Sussex Downs are dominated by a steep, often wooded scarp with views across the Weald below, while the East Sussex Downs are classic open grassland running down to the sea cliffs.
Highlights: Winchester Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Parham Deer Park, Chanctonbury Ring, dew ponds, Adur Valley, Devil's Dyke, Ditchling Beacon, neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age monuments, Long Man of Wilmington, Ouse valley, Cuckmere Haven, Seven Sisters, Beachy Head, blue butterflies.
Famous Associations: Writer Virginia Woolf (lived at Rodmell), painter Vanessa Bell (Berwick Church), Lytton Strachey (biographer), painter Duncan Grant (Charleston farm house), author Tom Paine (Lewes), Yeats and Whistler (Steyning), Kipling (Rottingdean), Belloc, Jeffries, and now Andy Goldsworthy’s chalk stones!
Trail Officer's favourite part: Seven Sisters and the Cuckmere Valley, a glimpse of an older, wilder England.
Nearest Towns: Eastbourne, Winchester and Alfriston are on the route. Steyning (1km (½ mile)), Storrington (1½ km (1mile)), Pulborough (13km(8miles)), Midhurst (6km (2 miles)), Petersfield 6km (4miles)), Newhaven (5km (3miles)), Lewes (6km (4 miles)), Portsmouth (19km (12 miles)), Alton (24km (15 miles)), Brighton (11km (7miles)), Shoreham (6km (4miles)), Worthing 6km (4 miles)).
Access: London Victoria to Eastbourne trains take 90 minutes, Trains to Lewes from London take 50 minutes. Change at Lewes for Newhaven (10 minutes), Seaford (15 minutes) and Southease. London Victoria to Brighton is 50 minutes by train via Hassocks. London Waterloo to Winchester is 60 minutes. There are good local bus services in places (eg the South Downs Conservation Board “Breeze up to the Downs” promotions, Devils Dyke open top bus to Brighton, and buses from Brighton to Eastbourne via Alfriston and Beachy Head).
Information available: A National Trail Guide by Paul Millmore published by Aurum Press (£12.99). ISBN 1 – 85413-565-2. Also Harveys route strip map from Harvey maps 01786 841202 www.harveysmaps.co.uk An accommodation guide, £4.50, is available from the National Trail Officer.
Contact for all information and advice: South Downs Way National Trail, Hatton House, Bepton Road, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9LU Tel: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org