5-Night South Downs Gentle Walking Holiday

Petworth Park
Duration: 5 nights
Type: Gentle Walks
Walking Grade: 1 & 2

This easier variation of our best-selling Guided Walking holidays is the perfect way to enjoy a gentle exploration of the South Downs. The choice of three guided walks includes a very short walk of 3 or 4 miles.  Enjoy the rolling hills and magnificent chalk cliffs of the South Downs. This wildlife-rich chalk downland is a colourful tapestry of historic villages, thatched cottages, pastoral landscapes of sweeping cornfields and market towns.

Holiday Highlights

  • Head out on full day walks to discover the varied beauty of the South Downs on foot
  • Admire panoramic sea and cliff views
  • Let a local leader bring classic routes and offbeat areas to life
  • Enjoy magnificent South Downs coastal scenery
  • Visit charming English villages
  • Look out for wildlife, find secret corners and learn about the rich history
  • A relaxed pace of discovery in a sociable group keen to get some fresh air in one of England’s most beautiful walking areas
  • Discover what makes the South Downs so special from the white cliffs to the sandy beaches
  • Evenings in our country house where you share a drink and re-live the day’s adventures

What’s included

  • High-quality en-suite accommodation in our country house
  • Full board from dinner upon arrival to breakfast on departure day
  • Up to 4 days of guided walking
  • Choice of up to three guided walks each walking day
  • The services of HF Holidays Walking Leaders
  • Any transport to and from the walks

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

On our Guided Walking holidays, we believe that choice is key. Our walks descriptions will help you choose according to your interests and fitness. The walks are grouped together with care by local experts to give the best experience. While every effort will be made to adhere to the described itinerary, we may occasionally vary the sequence shown here or substitute an alternative route to suit local conditions or for other operational reasons, potentially at short notice.

You're welcome to check in from 4pm onwards.

Enjoy a complimentary Afternoon Tea on arrival.


Option 1 - Thakeham, Warminghurst & Little Thakeham

Distance: 4 miles (6km)

Ascent: 300 feet (80m)

In summary: We walk to the nearby village of Thakeham and then, via Warminghurst church, along Park Lane. We continue along a footpath to Little Thakeham, before ascending to the ridge and returning to the House.

Highlight: The difference between the churches in Thakeham and Warminghurst.

Option 2 - West Chiltington & Thakeham

Distance: 6 miles (9.5km)

Total ascent:459 feet (140m)

In Summary: Starting out west along the ridge, we soon turn north to West Chiltington. We return, via Thakeham – and possibly via the White Lion public house, to the Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: West Chiltington church was built between 1100 & 1150 and has a fine collection of frescoes. As we head back to Abingworth Hall there are beautiful views towards the South Downs.

Option 3 - The Knepp Estate

Distance: 10½ miles (16.5km)

Ascent: 500 feet (140m)

In summary: Leaving the house, we make our way to the outskirts of Thakeham. We continue across open farmland and through woodland to reach the south western edge of the Knepp Estate. We have time to explore some of its features before turning for home via Warminghurst.

Highlight: Exploring the Knepp Estate.


Option 1 - Perrett's Copse & Wantley

Distance: 4 miles (6.55km)

Ascent: 200 feet (60m)

In Summary: We walk along the ridge to the west of the House and then turn south for a short distance before turning eastwards to Wantley, just north of Storrington. From here we walk northwards to complete our circuit, re-joining the outward route for our return to the House.

Highlight: Views from the ridge are stunning.

Option 2 - Cootham & Storrington

Distance: 6.5 miles (11km)

Ascent: 400 feet (120m)

In summary: We walk along the ridge to the west of the House and then south to Storrington. There will be time to explore Storrington and possibly visit  a teashop before we return through fields to the House.

Highlight: Wander around picturesque Storrington, the gateway to the South Downs.

Option 3 - Washington, Sullington & Storrington

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Ascent: 650 feet (200m)

In summary: Walking south from the house, we cross Heath Common and Washington Common to reach the village of Washington. We return along a section of the South Downs Way and then descend into Storrington – with the opportunity for refreshment. We return through fields to the house.

Highlight: The wonderful story behind the history of the Sanctuary.


Option 1 - Highbars Copse & Thakeham

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)

Total Ascent: 200 feet (60m)

In Summary: We take a short stroll along the ridge to the west of the house and then turn north to the outskirts of West Chiltington. Walking eastwards, we follow paths towards Thakeham – with the option to visit the church and/or White Lion, before returning to the house through open countryside.

Highlight: Views over the local area from the ridge near the house. 

Option 2 - Hurston Place & Nutbourne Common

Distance: 6.5 miles (10.5km)

Ascent: 450 feet (140m)

In summary: We walk along the ridge to the west of the house to Hurston Place and then across West Sussex golf course to Nutbourne Common. We continue, eastwards, via West Chiltington to return to the house.

Highlight: Walking along the West Sussex Literary Trail.

Option 3 - Pulborough Brooks, Nutbourne & West Chiltington

Distance: 8½ miles (14km)

Ascent: 600 feet (180m)

In summary: We walk along the ridge to the west of the House and continue west to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough. We then head north, across Pulborough Brooks meadows, to Pulborough village. We continue east to the villages of Nutbourne and West Chiltington, to return to the house.

Highlight: The nature reserve at Pulborough Brooks is not to be missed.


Option 1 - Halfway Bridge to Petworth

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km) 

Total ascent: 520 feet (150m) 

In Summary: From Halfway Bridge we walk through fields and woodland to Petworth, soaking up this beautiful, historic corner of Sussex. 

Highlight: The National Trust's Petworth House is a true English gem - with grounds landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. 

 

Option 2 - Cowdray & Petworth Park

Distance: 6 miles (10km) 

Total ascent: 700 feet (220m) 

In Summary: Walk from the northern edge of the polo grounds of Cowdray Park, through attractive woodland and fields to Petworth. Here you can visit Petworth House or take an optional walk around the surrounding parkland. 

Highlight: Our walk passes by the National Trust's Petworth House - this grand property was rebuilt by the 'Proud' Duke of Somerset during the late 17th Century in the new Baroque style. 

 

Option 3 - Midhurst to Petworth

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km) 

Total ascent: 1,000 feet (320m) 

In Summary: Follow the valley of the river Rother from the historic town of Midhurst to the ruins of Cowdray Park and the famous polo ground. We continue to Petworth, where there may be time to walk around Petworth Park or to visit the house. 

Highlight: The extensive grounds of Petworth House were landscaped by 'Capability' Brown and captured on canvas by JMW Turner. The park is currently home to England's largest herd of Fallow Deer. 

 


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 


Abingworth Hall

Tucked away in the village of Thakeham at the foot of the South Downs, Abingworth Hall has stood in one form another since the 13th century. Gutted by fire, it was rebuilt in 1910 in its current distinctive style. As well as 27 en-suite rooms the house has all the ingredients you need for the perfect country house stay: three comfortable lounges with squishy sofas to kick back in, the largest of which opens onto an attractive conservatory and bar in which to dally, great food and super-comfy rooms to retire to. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking here; go for a lazy amble around the wildlife rich chalk Downlands to discover a colourful tapestry of historic villages, thatched cottages, pastoral landscapes and vibrant market towns. Highlights of your stay might include the Seven Sisters, the Glorious Goodwood estate, the Devil’s Dyke and Chanctonbury Ring, as well as Arundel and the National Trust property at Petworth. Take your pick.

 

Need to know

Important Covid-19 steps we have taken for guest safety: Please Read

Following the relaxation in government guidance on 19 July, we are continuing to take extra steps to keep our guests leaders, and staff safe in our HF country houses. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

The English, Scottish and Welsh governments are not in sync, so measures in our country houses will vary between the nations. With the relaxation of social distancing in England, from 19 July we will be allowing larger groups to dine and relax in the bar together. However, we will still give guests space e.g. we will seat 6 people at a table where pre-pandemic we may have seated 8. We will ensure our public rooms are well ventilated by opening doors and windows wherever possible. If you have any concerns about distancing, please speak to the House Manager. The government recommendation for England is to wear face coverings in crowded areas. You must wear a face covering by law in public areas in hotels in Scotland. This is mandatory in public spaces; however, face coverings will not be required whilst eating and drinking in the restaurant and bar areas or whilst you are outside our houses. In Wales face coverings will remain a legal requirement indoors, with the exception of hospitality premises.

As a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

Menus for the week will be available in your room on arrival. A self-service breakfast will be served from 7.45am – 9am. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. Evening meals will be table service. A dinner order form will be available in each room for completion. Dinner is served at either 7.15pm or 7.30pm. Please check at the house for details. The bar will be open. We will be offering a table service but guests can also come to the bar to order (depending on local restrictions).

Join our team after dinner on Wednesday evenings for the HF Big Pub Quiz. There will be one other evening of entertainment at the start of the week, which will vary depending on the country house that you are staying at. Our Walk Leaders will also be on hand in the bar or lounge for individual or small group walks talks briefings, which allow guests to talk through the following day’s walk options and ask any questions. All of our swimming pools are open, except for Glen Coe, which will not re-open this year. Swimming Pools will be operated in line with maximum capacities.

For more information and to see all the steps taken, visit our page on how house stays will be adapted.

Rooms

Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi

Stay in one of the Hall’s smartly presented rooms, which make use of every nook-and-cranny in the interesting architecture of this characterful house. With 27 bedrooms, Abingworth Hall has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good and Better Rooms to choose from. Clean and bright, with accent colours to offset the simple palette, the rooms are airy and light. Better Rooms might have a feature wall or strong print wallpaper as well as pretty tiles in the ensuite bathroom.

All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress and larger television – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-25 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.

Facilities

Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, extensive garden, outdoor swimming pool, multi-purpose activity room, three lounges, library and board games to borrow

After a day strolling on the South Downs, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. Relax in the large gardens and sit by the pretty pond, turn your hand to croquet or practice on the putting green. Ease through a couple of lengths of the heated outdoor pool if you’ve still got energy to burn. Hole up in the light-filled conservatory with pretty views of the gardens or retire to the Drawing Room with its wood-panelled walls, log burner, library of books to browse and comfy seats to sink in to; there’s a telescope for you to scour the night sky too. In the evening, take your seat in the bar or join fellow guests in the large ballroom for the evening activity.

Food & Drink

As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Abingworth Hall is varied and tasty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the dining room, which has a giant brick fireplace at its heart, hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try a five-course feast of local Sussex flavours. Look out for the Sussex Churdle, a traditional, meaty ploughboy lunch, local Chiddingly beef cooked with black olives and Sussex smokies, smoked haddock served in a prawn sauce. Cap it all with a Sussex Pond Pudding, a pud that’s part of the honourable tradition of British dishes with names to pique the interest more than the appetite, which is actually bright and zingy, suety and syrupy all at the same time

Accessibility

For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865 or view the accessibility information online for Abingworth Hall

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Getting to Abingworth Hall

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

Essential Information

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong type of clothing!” goes the adage. Come prepared for all eventualities and you’ll walk in comfort as well as safety. Britain’s famous for its changeable weather, so here’s our advice on what to wear and bring.

Essentials

  • Waterproof walking boots providing ankle support and good grip.
  • A waterproof jacket and over-trousers
  • Gloves and a warm hat (it can be chilly at any time of the year)
  • Rucksack
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)
  • A small torch (everywhere in winter, year round in mountains)
  • Sun hat and sunscreen
    Denim jeans and waterproof capes are not suitable on any walks.

Recommended

  • Several layers of clothing, which can be added or removed
  • Specialist walking socks to avoid blisters.
  • A first aid kit inc plasters– your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication
  • Sit mat (insulated pad to sit on when you stop for a break)

You might also want

  • Walking poles, particularly useful for descents.
  • Insect repellent
  • Flask for hot drinks
  • Rigid lunch box
  • Gaiters
  • Blister kit (eg Compeed) just in case
  • Waterproof rucksack liner

Guest Reviews

Duration:
5 nights
Type:
Gentle Walks
Walking Grade:
1

Fully Booked

020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ people click here

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