South Downs Way

Walk along a chalk ridge to the sea finishing along the Seven Sisters cliffs

Length 109 miles (175 km)
Toughness 4 out of 10 - about 12,750 ft (3,900 meters) of ascent over 8 days

OS Explorer Map : OL32, OL8, OL10, OL11, OL25

Walk Notes

The South Downs Way is one of 15 national long distance footpaths. It traverses the South Downs National Park from east to west along the northern crest of the South Downs range of chalk downs (hills) in the south east England. It starts at Winchester in Hampshire, crosses into West Sussex, and finishes at Eastbourne in East Sussex. It is 175 km (110 miles) long with about 3,900 m (12,700 ft) of ascent and descent - about 500 metres a day if done over 8 days. The path is very rural, passing though few villages. The route is also open to cyclists and horses.

The route starts in historic Winchester (train station). The ridge is indistinct at first, but soon becomes an obvious ridge, with a steep escarpement to the north, and a gentle slope south to the sea. The ridge is bisected by several rivers along its length - leading to the descents and re-ascents. It passes Cheesefoot Head (176m), Beacon Hill, Old Winchester Hill, Butser Hill (270m), Beacon Hill (242m), Glatting Beacon (245m), Kithurst Hill (213m), Chanctonbury Ring (238m), Truleigh Hill (216m), Devil's Dyke (a beauty spot), Ditchling Beacon (227m), Swanborough Hill (192m), Firle Beacon (217m), Wendover Hill and Beachy Head

The trail splits at Alfriston at its eastern end, with 2 alternate routes. The northern route (for cyclist and riders) follows the crest of the ridge as before past Wenover Hill. The more spectacular southern route, which is slightly longer, is a cliff walk over the Seven Sisters cliffs via Beachy Head. Both routes meet up near Eastbourne's seafront, a few km from its station.

The OS map and GPX links above are to give you an overview of the entire walk.

Most of the walk is accessible by train for day trips, but there are 2 trailheads in the western half of the walk (i.e. 4 stages), Cocking and West Meon, where buses need to be used


Uniquely, there are a fair number of taps along the SDW, from west to east (NB the taps may be turned off in mid-winter in freezing weather)

The Milburys Beauworth, SU 570 246. Pub.
The Shoe Inn Exton, SU 614 209. Pub.
Meon Springs Whitewool Farm, SU 655 215. Water available from the fishing lodge when open.
The Beech Cafe Sustainability Centre, SU 676 190. Café.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park SU 718 185. Café open 10am – 4.30pm most of the year, check opening times on 023 9259 1362.
Hill Barn A286 crossing, SU 879 166. Tap & trough.
Amberley Near river Arun crossing, TQ 025 124. Tap & trough.
Franklin Arms Washington, TQ 123 129. Pub. (safe crossing diversion)
Parkfield Farm Washington, TQ 118 119. Tap. (main route)
Botolphs River Adur crossing, TQ 198 094. Tap & trough.
Truleigh Hill YHA, TQ 220 106. Tap.
Devil’s Dyke TQ 258 110. Pub.
Saddlescombe Farm TQ 271 114. Tap.
Housedean Farm A27 crossing, TQ 368 092. Tap.
Southease Church TQ 423 052. Tap.
Alfriston Village c. TQ 520 030. Several pubs, cafés and toilets.
The Eight Bells Jevington, TQ 562 017. Pub.
Seven Sisters Country Park, TV 518 995. Tap behind toilet block.
Birling Gap TV 553 960. Pub and public toilets.
Beachy Head TV 590 958. Pub and public toilets.  
1 SWC Walk 182 : Winchester to West Meon
2 SWC Walk 183 : West Meon to Petersfield
3 SWC Walk 155 : Petersfield to Cocking
4 SWC Walk 33 : Amberley to Cocking
5 SWC Walk 26 : Amberley to Shoreham-by-sea
6 TOCW2 Walk 23 : Hassocks to Upper Beeding
7 TOCW1 Walk 29 : Hassocks to Lewes
8S TOCW2 Walk 28 : Seaford to Eastbourne (southern walker's route)
8N SWC Walk 25 : Southease to Eastbourne (northern cyclist's and horse rider's route)
South Downs Way

This walk is one of 9 stages of the South Downs Way - a 109 mile national long distance path - that traverses the South Downs National Park in South East England.

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start SO23 8TJ Map Directions Return to the start:

Finish BN21 3QJ Map Directions Travel to the start:


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234



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