Spend the festive season in the beautiful South Downs, socialising and walking in this stunning corner of England. There’s something magical about walking in winter. Whether it’s the frosty footsteps, the clear crisp air, or the breathtaking views, it’s a wonderful time to go walking. Join our festive breaks and choose from a guided walking holiday in the company of one of our knowledgeable leaders. We pull out all the stops on our festive holidays, with fabulous food, lots of seasonal entertainment and great walks and activities. The walks are tailored to the time of year and will remain flexible to suit the weather conditions. Each day three grades of walk will be offered. So wrap up warm, lace up your boots and go for an invigorating walk.
- Plenty of exercise to walk off the festive excesses
- Admire panoramic sea and cliff views
- A choice of guided walks in spectacular winter scenery
- Let a local leader bring classic routes and offbeat areas to life
- Relax, soak up the party atmosphere, enjoy wonderful festive fare and leave all the organising to us
- 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
- Cosy Country House and a special festive cheer
- Evening activities keep the festive atmosphere going through the evening
- Wonderful meals – full selection at breakfast, your choice of picnic lunch, an excellent evening meal and plenty of festive treats
- A programme of organised walks and activities
- The services of experienced HF Holidays’ guides
- A packed programme of evening activities offering something festive for everyone, including some old HF favourites
- Any transport to and from the walks
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 to your room from 2:30 p.m. onwards (upgraded rooms from 1 p.m.) Please join us for afternoon tea.
Today’s walks all finish at Petworth, a picturesque old town centred on Petworth House, built in 1688 and owned by the National Trust since 1947. The harder walk starts along a stretch of the River Rother to the west of Midhurst, passing through Cowdray Park with its ruins and polo grounds. The easier and medium walks follow some of the same route, the easier starting from the edge of Cowdray Park, the medium from the east side of Midhurst.
The immediate area around Abingworth Hall has some fine-looking hamlets and villages like Thakeham, Warminghurst and West Chiltington. This is a great way to celebrate, why not wear some festive colours?
Today’s walks all head for the ancient market town of Steyning, a conservation area with more listed buildings on its High Street than almost any other town in the UK. The harder walk starts near Findon and works its way up the Downs to the Iron Age hill forts of Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings. Starting from Washington, the medium walk also has the chance (depending upon weather and time) to see Cissbury Ring, while the easier walk pays a visit to Chanctonbury Ring.
Our Discovery Points help you make the most out of your free day. There’s plenty of maps and a selection of the best local walking routes, as well as weather forecasts and public transport options – plus details about other places to visit.
The High Downs provide some of the best views along the whole of the South Downs Way. We’ll all see the impressive Devil’s Dyke, the starting point for our medium and harder walks which lead us through Pyecombe and along parts of the South Downs Way to end at Ditchling. Our easier walk, also ending at Ditchling, takes us past the distinctive ‘Jack’ and ‘Jill’ windmills overlooking Hassocks and Keymer.
Today we start near the picturesque village of Amberley and walk back to Abingworth Hall. Our easier option follows field paths at the foot of the Downs, passing through the grounds of Parham House, whilst the medium and harder options follow parts of the South Downs Way across the tops of the Downs.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home.
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 ensuite 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 Chantonbury Ring, as well as Arundel and the National Trust property at Petworth. Take your pick.
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, larger television, enhanced toiletries and a fluffy bathrobe & slippers – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-20 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.
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
For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865
What to Bring
“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.
- 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)
- Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)
- A small torch (everywhere in winter, year round in mountains)
- 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
- Blister kit (eg Compeed) just in case
- Waterproof rucksack liner
- Sun hat and sunscreen (we may just get lucky and have some festive sunshine!)
Denim jeans and waterproof capes are not suitable on any walks.
All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £10 per person.
|Date (Start - End)||Nights||Itinerary||Price||Status||Trip Notes||Book|
23 Dec - 30 Dec
|7||Christmas||£1,029||Available||Trip Notes||Book Now|
7 nights from £1,029pp
...or call 020 3974 8865