7-Night South Downs Gentle Walking Holiday

SEAFORD, SUSSEX Uk. 2015 may 17th.The cliffs and lighthouse at Beachy Head on the south coast of England.
Duration: 7 nights
Type: Gentle Walks
Walking Grade: 1 & 2
from £945pp £875pp

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
  • 5 days guided walking; 1 free day
  • Use of our comprehensive Discovery Point
  • Choice of up to three guided walks each walking day
  • The services of HF Holidays Walking Leaders

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.

Option 1 - The RSPB Visitor Centre and Wiggonholt

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km)

Total Ascent: 280 feet (80m)

In Summary: Enjoy the hamlets and woodland around Wiggonholt as we take a gentle walk back to Abingworth Hall. Spend time around the RSPB centre (£6 entry)and see what kind of birds can be spotted before strolling through Wiggonholt Common.

Highlight: Wiggonholt's tiny church, built during the Saxo-Norman overlap is a pretty stop for a picture!

Option 2 - Pulborough & West Chiltington

Distance: 6 miles (9.5km)

Total ascent: 600 feet (180m)

In Summary: Explore the gently undulating countryside of Sussex on this walk back to Abingworth Hall, via the picturesque village of West Chiltington.

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 - Pulborough Brooks Circular

Distance: 8½ miles (14km)

Total ascent: 700 feet (200m)

In Summary: Walking from the house, our route takes us westwards along the ridge to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Brooks and a convenient coffee stop. Continuing north we pass Wiggonholt Church and walk alongside the brooks to Nutbourne and eventually back to Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: Stop to enjoy the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Brooks where sightings may include Sandpipers, Lapwing and Shoveler Ducks.

Option 1 - Hope Gap

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km) 

Total ascent: 350 feet (100m) 

In Summary: From the Seven Sister’s Visitor Centre in Exceat – once a medieval settlement – we walk through the Seaford Head Nature Reserve to reach the chalk headland at Hope Gap. From here we walk to the coastguard cottages which provide the classic view of the Seven Sisters. Continuing, we follow the ‘Vanguard Way’ back to Exceat. 

Highlight: Refreshments at the Cuckmere Inn – charming & picturesque and, best of all, the view of the Seven Sisters from Hope Gap. 


Option 2 - Seven Sisters

Distance: 6 miles (9.5km) 

Total ascent: 500 feet (160m)

In Summary:Starting at Friston church, we walk south to reach the chalk cliffs near Birling Gap, before walking along the Seven Sisters coastal path to Cuckmere Haven.  

Highlight: Take time to savour the outstanding coastal scenery then gaze down from the final 'sister' over the River Cuckmere as it meanders gracefully towards the sea. 


Option 3 - Beachy Head & the Seven Sisters

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)

Total ascent: 1,150 feet (360m) 

In Summary: Follow the South Downs Way from above Eastbourne to Beachy Head. We then follow the glorious coastal path past the Belle Tout lighthouse and over the Seven Sisters to Cuckmere Haven. 

Highlight: Look out for the Belle Tout lighthouse, now a private residence. In 1999 it was carefully jacked 17 metres inland, away from the rapidly eroding cliff edge. 


Discover more about Abingworth Hall and the local area for ideas on how to fill your free day. 

Option 1 - Singleton to West Dean

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km)

Total Ascent: 540 feet (170m)

In Summary: Walk along the Monarch's Way to West Dean Gardens (admission payable). This gentle walks offers some absolutely stunning views, not to mention the abundance of flora in the gardens at the end.

Highlight: The views from The Trundle are hard to beat: gaze down on Goodwood Racecourse and the cathedral city of Chichester.

Option 2 - Glorious Goodwood and West Dean Gardens

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240km)

In Summary: Walk through the Sussex countryside to the village of Singleton, then ascend onto the Downs to the top of the Trundle, overlooking Goodwood Racecourse.

Highlight: The walk ends at the highly recommended West Dean Gardens (admission payable). Discover the water garden, rich herbaceous borders, and the Edwardian walled kitchen garden.

Option 3 - Levin Down and The Trundle

Distance: 8 miles (12.5km)

Total ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

In Summary: Ascend through the woodland of the Drovers Estate to Levin Down Nature Reserve and the villages of Charlton and Singleton. After ascending The Trundle, we follow the West Sussex Literary Trail to West Dean Gardens.

Highlight: The Trundle is a fantastic viewpoint from where you can gaze down on Goodwood Racecourse and the cathedral city of Chichester.

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. 


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: 7½ miles (12km) 

Total ascent: 950 feet (280m) 

The walk in a nutshell: 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. 

Don’t miss: Chantonbury 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 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.


Need to know

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

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests, house teams and leaders safe while we return to action. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

Initially the overall capacity of the houses has been reduced. Guests must wear face coverings in public spaces. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, a one-way system will be in place around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and house teams.

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 have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. Clean towels will be available on request. 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.

For now, there is no cream tea on arrival day. We have also adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. At this time there is no, or only a very limited, evening social programme available. Outdoor swimming pools at those houses that have them will re-open throughout August, except at Freshwater Bay House, where the pool will remain closed for 2020. Indoor swimming pools will remain closed.

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


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.


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

10688_0070 - Abingworth Hall - Exterior

Getting to Abingworth Hall

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

More Information

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.


  • 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.


  • 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: £20 per person.

Holiday Prices

Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
24 May - 31 May
7 Gentle Walks - Version 1 £945 £875 Save £70 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now
30 Jul - 06 Aug
7 Gentle Walks - Version 1 £945 £885 Save £60 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now
7 nights
Gentle Walks
Walking Grade:

7 nights from £945pp £875pp

...or call 020 3974 8865

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