View of the South Downs: fields and the houses

Walking holidays in the South Downs

The South Downs is England’s newest national park having only been bestowed the status as recently as 2010. And about time, too. Given it was this very landscape which inspired William Blake to pen the words to Jerusalem, the countryside views are as gorgeous as you’d imagine. Ancient woodland, hidden valleys, chalky cliffs, and high-backed hills welcome visitors to what’s fondly known as the gateway to England.  

Scenery-packed walking routes 

The walking opportunities around the South Downs National Park are wow-worthy to say the least. Trek the 100-mile long South Downs Way and you’ll journey from the Saxon capital of Winchester, through wildflower-carpeted lowland heaths all the way to the chalky ridges of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head – a wall of gleaming white sea cliffs that look out across the English Channel.  

Equally standout are the views from atop the V-shaped valley at Devil’s Dyke. Look out across the countryside from this famous Sussex beauty spot and keep your eyes peeled for skylarks flying overhead and adders slithering through the grass – the South Downs are one of the best places in Britain to see the UK’s only species of venomous snake.  

Walk through Britain’s oldest forests and heritage-rich estates 

Around a quarter of the South Downs is woodland, making it the most thickly forested national park in England and Wales. The dense woods of Kingley Vale are home to the oldest trees in the country as well as mysterious Bronze Age burial chambers known as the Devil’s Humps. 

Alongside thickets of ancient yew trees, you’ll also find the well-manicured gardens of Sussex’s finest stately homes. Discover the Elizabethan splendour of 16th century Parham House or explore the 700-acre deer park surrounding Petworth House. And if you can tear yourself away from the handsome grounds, inside, Petworth has lavishly decorated drawing rooms, artworks and antique furnishings to admire.  

Our South Downs walking holidays also put you within easy driving distance of several historic big-name attractions. The castle-crowned market town of Arundel, Chichester Cathedral, and the seaside charms of Brighton are all in reach.