3-Night South Downs Gentle Walking Holiday

Footpath from Thakeham en route to Knepp Estate.JPG
Duration: 3 nights
Type: Gentle Walks
Walking Grade: 1 & 2
from £439pp

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 gentle 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 at our country house
  • Full board from dinner upon arrival to breakfast on departure day
  • Two full days of guided walking
  • Choice of up to three guided walks each walking day
  • Use of our comprehensive Discovery Point
  • The services of HF Holidays Walking Leaders

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDF’s for each holiday, please click the button below to find the right trip notes for your departure date.

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. Some of our breaks have more than one itinerary. To check which itinerary is running on your holiday date please refer to the Dates, Prices & Trip Notes tab.

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

Enjoy a complimentary Afternoon Tea on arrival.


Option 1 - Around Warminghurst

Distance: 3 miles (5km)

Ascent: 200 feet (60m)

In Summary: Walking from the house, we follow gentle trails to Thakeham, through Warminghurst and then back to the house.

Highlight: Scenic countryside views

Option 2 - West Chiltington & Thakeham

Distance: 6 miles (9.5km)

Total ascent: 450 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 the pretty village of Thakeham. We continue across open farmland and through woodland to reach the south western edge of the Knepp Estate. In 2001 the Knepp Estate started a re-wilding project to turn farmland back into a natural habitat. The area is now home to an astonishing variety of species including rare birds such as nightingales and turtle doves. It is also home to the UK's only wild population of white storks which come here to breed in the summer months. While walking here you may see grazing animals including Tamworth pigs, longhorn cattle and three species of deer: roe, fallow and red. We have time to explore some of Knepp's walking trails before turning for home via Warminghurst village.

Highlight: Exploring the Knepp Estate where there is a pioneering re-wilding project in progress.


Option 1 - Below the Downs

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km) 

Total ascent: 250 feet (80m) 

In Summary: Starting from Washington, a town with Saxon origins, contour below the magnificent South Downs to Steyning. 

Highlight: Steyning town trail - Tudor style, half-timbered houses, fine Georgian town houses and Norman carvings in St Andrew's Church.

Option 2 - Along the Downs

Distance: 7 miles (11.5km) 

Total ascent: 950 feet (280m) 

In Summary: Ascend to Chanctonbury Ring on the crest of the Downs, then take the South Downs Way along the hill-tops to the historic town of Steyning. 

Highlight: Chanctonbury Ring has a mysterious atmosphere - local legend says that if you run 7 times around it on a moonless night, the Devil will appear and offer you a bowl of milk, soup or porridge (reports vary!).

Option 3 - Chanctonbury & Cissbury Rings

Distance: 10 miles (16km) 

Total ascent: 1,350 feet (420m) 

In Summary: Discover the two ancient hill forts of Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings on our walk along the Downs from Washington to Steyning. 

Highlight: Cissbury Ring is a vast Iron Age hill fort, the second largest in Britain with formidable ditches and ramparts.


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.

 

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 Classic and Premium Rooms to choose from. Clean and bright, with accent colours to offset the simple palette, the rooms are airy and light. Premium Rooms might have a feature wall or strong print wallpaper as well as pretty tiles in the ensuite bathroom.

All ‘Classic' rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Premium' 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. Food at Abingworth Hall is varied with a strong emphasis on the use of seasonal British produce. Our experienced chefs create each dish using only the freshest ingredients and, when in season, use home grown herbs and vegetables taken from our own gardens to give a true taste of the local area.

Accessibility

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

Abingworth_Hall_Sunny.JPG

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

All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £30 per person.

Holiday Prices

Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2022
20 May - 23 May 2022
3 Gentle Walk - Version 1 £439 Trip Notes Book Now
Duration:
3 nights
Type:
Gentle Walks
Walking Grade:
1

3 nights from £439pp

...or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ people click here

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