7 Night South Downs Christmas & New Year Guided Walking Holiday

Abingworth - Spring and Winter Walking - Petworth - AdobeStock_246458570.jpeg
Duration: 7 nights
Type: Guided walking
Walking Grade: 1 & 2
from £1,289pp

Spend the festive season in the South Downs and head out on winter walks that take you across a landscape of ancient woodland, chalky cliffs, and high hills. And when you’re not busy exploring the wintry scenery of southern England, cosy up in Abingworth Hall – our charming country house just a skip away from the village of Thakeham. We pull out all the stops at this time of year and our houses welcome you with a sprinkling of festive cheer, seasonal food, and plenty of yuletide treats. So wrap up warm and step into Christmas with HF Holidays.

What you’ll love

  • Getting into the festive spirit with a guided walking holiday 
  • A choice of winter walks with our experienced HF Holidays Leaders  
  • Discovering the stunning landscapes of South Downs on foot 
  • Staying in our cosy former farmhouse in Abingworth
  • Enjoying festive fare and leaving all the organising to us 
  • A celebration dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve  

What’s included

  • Comfortable en-suite accommodation in our country house
  • Cream tea on arrival day
  • Cooked or continental breakfast every morning
  • Daily packed lunches
  • Three-course evening meals, plus tea & coffee
  • Guided walking with experienced HF Holidays Leaders
  • Choice of up to three different-grade daily walks
  • All transport to and from walks where necessary
  • Easy-to-follow routes, maps, and information in our Discovery Point if you want to explore independently

Trip Notes

Easy to download as a PDF, our trip notes provide detailed information for every holiday. Please click below to find the trip notes for your departure date.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take alternative routes or adapt the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.

See Dates, Prices & Trip Note tab to check which itinerary is running

You're welcome to check in from 4pm onwards. Enjoy a complimentary cream tea on arrival.


Option 1 - Amberley & Parham Park

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km)

Ascent: 450 feet (140m)

In summary: Walk through the fields at the foot of the Downs from the picturesque village of Amberley back to Abingworth Hall, passing through the grounds of Parham House.

Highlight: Parham House is a fine Elizabethan residence, surrounded by an extensive deer park.

Option 2 - Amberley & The South Downs

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)

Ascent: 850 feet (260m)

In summary: Walk from Amberley beside the River Arun, then follow the South Downs Way atop the Downs as far as Kithurst Hill. From here we descend through the fields to Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: Soak up the views from Rackham Hill where the panorama stretches north over the hills and woodland of the Weald, and south towards the English Channel.

Option 3 - Amberley & The South Downs Way

Distance: 12 miles (19km)

Ascent: 1,150 feet (360m)

In summary: Discover the peaceful River Arun then head along the top of the Downs following the South Downs Way as far as Barnsfarm Hill. Our route then turns north, crossing Washington Common, to return to Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: The chalk downlands are a rich habitat for wild flowers. Look out for rare orchids and Common Blue butterflies.


Option 1 - Hurston Place & Nutbourne Common

Distance: 6½ 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 2 - 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 3 - Pulborough and Nutbourne

Distance: 11½ miles (18km)

Total ascent: 850 feet (260m)

In summary: This walk travels along the ridge to the west of the house and continue west to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough – and the opportunity for refreshments. We then head north, across Pulborough Brooks meadows, to Pulborough village. We continue north eventually to reach West Chiltington and return to the house.

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


Option 1 - Thakeham, Warminghurst & Ashington

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km) 

Ascent: 400 feet (120m)

In summary: We walk to the nearby village of Thakeham and then, via Warminghurst church, across fields to Ashington. We return via woodland to the House.

Highlight: The gentle stroll through the woodland at the end of the walk.

Option 2 - The Knepp Estate from Abingworth

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 3 - Shipley & The Knepp Estate from Abingworth

Distance: 13½ miles (22km)

Ascent: 600 feet (180m)

In summary: We leave the house and make our way to the outskirts of the pretty village of Thakeham. Continuing across open farmland and through woodland, we reach the south western edge of the Knepp Estate where a pioneering re-wildling project has been in progress since 2001. The estate is now home to a diverse range of species and is the only place in the UK where white storks nest and breed. Grazing animals you may see include Tamworth pigs, longhorn cattle and three species of deer - red, roe and fallow. We continue to the village of Shipley with its beautifully restored windmill and ancient church before exploring the eastern part of the Knepp Estate. We return to the house via Warminghurst village.

Highlight: Shipley - this historic village was first mentioned in the Domesday Book. It has a beautifully restored windmill.


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


Option 1 - Clayton Windmills

Distance: 6 miles (10km)

Ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In summary: Ascend to Clayton Windmills on the crest of the Downs. We'll follow the South Downs Way over Ditchling Beacon, then descend the escarpment to Ditchling village.

Highlight: We'll pass the iconic Clayton Windmills. 'Jill' is a a wooden post mill from 1822, whilst 'Jack' is a brick tower mill from 1864.

Option 2 - Devil's Dyke

Distance: 9½ miles (15km)

Ascent: 1,000 feet (320m)

In summary: Walk atop the Downs from Devil's Dyke to Ditchling Beacon, following the South Downs Way for much of the walk.

Highlight: Devil's Dyke is a natural valley high on the Downs. It's hard to imagine that this peaceful beauty spot was once a Victorian tourist attraction complete with a railway, observatory and cable-car.

Option 3 - Devil's Dyke to Ditchling

Distance: 11½ miles (18.5km)

Ascent: 1,450 feet (440m)

In summary: A longer walk from Devil's Dyke to Ditchling. We'll take in the the summits of Newtimber Hill and Wolstonbury Hill before rejoining the South Downs Way near the Clayton Windmills.

Highlight: Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex and enjoys a commanding view south over the English Channel.


Option 1 - Cowdray Park & Petworth

Distance: 7 miles (11km) 

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m) 

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 built by the Duke of Somerset in the late 17th Century in the style of Versailles.

Option 2 - Midhurst to Petworth

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)

Ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

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 3 - Stedham to Petworth - Through the Rother Valley

Distance: 11½ miles (18km)

Ascent: 1,200 feet (360m)

In summary: This longer route to Petworth begins from Stedham with a walk along the Rother Valley to Stedham Mill. Upon reaching Cowdray Park, our route follows that of the two shorter walks to Petworth.

Highlight: Discover the fascinating history of Cowdray House - the former home of the Montague family, was built in 1542 and largely destroyed by fire in 1793.


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 


See Dates, Prices & Trip Note tab to check which itinerary is running

You're welcome to check in from 4pm onwards. Enjoy a complimentary cream tea on arrival.


Option 1 - Clayton Windmills

Distance: 6 miles (10km)

Ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In summary: Ascend to Clayton Windmills on the crest of the Downs. We'll follow the South Downs Way over Ditchling Beacon, then descend the escarpment to Ditchling village.

Highlight: We'll pass the iconic Clayton Windmills. 'Jill' is a a wooden post mill from 1822, whilst 'Jack' is a brick tower mill from 1864.

Option 2 - Devil's Dyke

Distance: 9½ miles (15km)

Ascent: 1,000 feet (320m)

In summary: Walk atop the Downs from Devil's Dyke to Ditchling Beacon, following the South Downs Way for much of the walk.

Highlight: Devil's Dyke is a natural valley high on the Downs. It's hard to imagine that this peaceful beauty spot was once a Victorian tourist attraction complete with a railway, observatory and cable-car.

Option 3 - Devil's Dyke to Ditchling

Distance: 11½ miles (18.5km)

Ascent: 1,450 feet (440m)

In summary: A longer walk from Devil's Dyke to Ditchling. We'll take in the the summits of Newtimber Hill and Wolstonbury Hill before rejoining the South Downs Way near the Clayton Windmills.

Highlight: Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex and enjoys a commanding view south over the English Channel.


Option 1 - Cowdray Park & Petworth

Distance: 7 miles (11km) 

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m) 

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 built by the Duke of Somerset in the late 17th Century in the style of Versailles.

Option 2 - Midhurst to Petworth

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)

Ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

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 3 - Stedham to Petworth - Through the Rother Valley

Distance: 11½ miles (18km)

Ascent: 1,200 feet (360m)

In summary: This longer route to Petworth begins from Stedham with a walk along the Rother Valley to Stedham Mill. Upon reaching Cowdray Park, our route follows that of the two shorter walks to Petworth.

Highlight: Discover the fascinating history of Cowdray House - the former home of the Montague family, was built in 1542 and largely destroyed by fire in 1793.


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


Option 1 - Amberley & Parham Park

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km)

Ascent: 450 feet (140m)

In summary: Walk through the fields at the foot of the Downs from the picturesque village of Amberley back to Abingworth Hall, passing through the grounds of Parham House.

Highlight: Parham House is a fine Elizabethan residence, surrounded by an extensive deer park.

Option 2 - Amberley & The South Downs

Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)

Ascent: 850 feet (260m)

In summary: Walk from Amberley beside the River Arun, then follow the South Downs Way atop the Downs as far as Kithurst Hill. From here we descend through the fields to Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: Soak up the views from Rackham Hill where the panorama stretches north over the hills and woodland of the Weald, and south towards the English Channel.

Option 3 - Amberley & The South Downs Way

Distance: 12 miles (19km)

Ascent: 1,150 feet (360m)

In summary: Discover the peaceful River Arun then head along the top of the Downs following the South Downs Way as far as Barnsfarm Hill. Our route then turns north, crossing Washington Common, to return to Abingworth Hall.

Highlight: The chalk downlands are a rich habitat for wild flowers. Look out for rare orchids and Common Blue butterflies.


Option 1 - Hurston Place & Nutbourne Common

Distance: 6½ 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 2 - 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 3 - Pulborough and Nutbourne

Distance: 11½ miles (18km)

Total ascent: 850 feet (260m)

In summary: This walk travels along the ridge to the west of the house and continue west to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough – and the opportunity for refreshments. We then head north, across Pulborough Brooks meadows, to Pulborough village. We continue north eventually to reach West Chiltington and return to the house.

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


Option 1 - Glorious Goodwood and West Dean Gardens

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km)

Ascent: 850 feet (260m)

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 2 - Levin Down Nature Reserve, Goodwood, and West Dean

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

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 3 - West Sussex Circuit

Distance: 12½ miles (20km)

Ascent: 1,950 feet (600m)

In summary: Our circuit through West Sussex takes in the Trundle, before heading west over rolling hills to the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve and the curiously-named Devil's Humps. We return along the Monarch's Way to West Dean.

Highlight: Look out for the Devil's Humps, considered to be some of Britain's finest Bronze Age burial chambers, dating to around 500BC.


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 


Abingworth Hall

Country living just got cosier at this former farmhouse. Abingworth Hall is just a skip away from the village of Thakeham at the foot of the South Downs – a landscape of ancient woodland, hidden valleys, chalky cliffs, and high-backed hills so deserving of its national park status finally bestowed in 2010. While the views from the doorstep are as wow-worthy as you’d expect, the walking opportunities around the sightseeing greats such as Devil’s Dyke, Seven Sisters Country Park, Kingley Vale, Parham House, and the Clayton Windmills (known locally as Jack and Jill) are equally standout. You’ll also be within easy driving distance of several historic towns and cities, most fabulously Arundel, Chichester, and Brighton.   

 

Rooms

Designed with your comfort in mind, Abingworth Hall has 27 well-appointed guest rooms available in two categories: Classic and Premium. 

Classic Rooms are comfortable en-suite guest rooms, ideal for a peaceful night's sleep. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, and shower gel), and a TV. 

Premium Rooms are more spacious en-suite guest rooms. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, body lotion, shower gel), and a 32-inch TV. Extras include bathrobes, slippers, and comfortable mattresses. 

We love: The Premium Rooms for views of the impossibly pretty surrounds. 

The Choose Your Room service is available at our UK country houses, allowing you the option of choosing and confirming a specific room for an extra charge of £30 per room. This is subject to availability. Upgrade supplements apply. 

Check in & check out
You are welcome to check in from 4:00pm at the earliest. On arrival, you’ll enjoy a complimentary cream tea and get to meet your fellow guests, our HF Holidays Leaders, and the rest of the friendly team.  

On the day of departure, we kindly ask all guests to check out by 10:00am. You’ll be asked to settle your bill prior to leaving. You may, of course, make a charitable donation to our HF Holidays Pathways Fund if you wish. Please note that we only accept card payments.  

Room supplements

Premium single Premium double/twin Choose your room
£20 pppn £20 pppn £30 per room

About your stay

A warm welcome
We want you to feel comfortable from the moment you arrive. You’ll find a welcome pack in your room with guest registration forms, menus, order forms for dinners and picnic lunches, the Wi-Fi password, and the front door code. Our houses are locked at night, so we recommend noting the Duty Manager’s number on arrival in case of an emergency (or getting locked out). 

Evening entertainment
While evening entertainment varies from house to house, the HF Holidays Big Pub Quiz held after dinner on Wednesdays is a weekly staple. Your HF Holidays Leader may be around for tips on guided and self-guided walking routes as well as visit-worthy local attractions. 

Walks talks 
Our HF Holidays Leaders host guided walking information briefings before dinner on arrival days. This is followed by a group Walks Talk for information on the following day’s walking delights (held before dinner every evening). Self-guided walking guests are, of course, welcome.  

The walking day
Prior to setting off on walks, your HF Holidays Leader will run you through a short safety briefing. There’s also an up-to-date weather forecast on display at the house to ensure you have appropriate clothing and footwear. If you choose to do your own walks or are on a self-guided walking holiday, we ask that you please complete an Independent Walker Card each day. These can be found near the Discovery Point in the house. 

Food & drink

Led by experienced chefs, we serve a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. We always aim to source the best produce available and use home-grown herbs and vegetables from our own gardens whenever possible. Additionally, we have a licensed bar with beers, soft drinks, and a superb selection of spirits. Full-board comes as standard and includes a cream tea on arrival and a hearty breakfast on departure day.

HF Holidays understands the importance of managing allergens effectively to ensure food is safe for guests with food allergies. Whilst we are always able to confidently inform guests which allergens are present in our ingredients and dishes, we are unable to guarantee absolute freedom from the 14 main allergens in our kitchens. Vegetarian and vegan menu choices are available. If you have allergies, food intolerances, or any special dietary requirements, please inform our reservation team at the time of booking.

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

Address

Abingworth Hall
Storrington Road
Thakeham
West Sussex RH20 3EF

Tel: +44 (0)1798 813636

By train

The nearest station is Pulborough.  

Pulborough station has a short platform, so you’ll need to check the departure boards for which carriage to sit in.  

National Rail have up-to-date routes and train times. 

By taxi

The six-mile journey from Pulborough railway station takes about 15 minutes.  

It’s best to avoid arriving at Pulborough station between 2:50pm and 3:20pm as there may not be any taxis available due to school pick-ups.

For pricing, please contact the taxi company directly.

MJ Cars
You can pre-book a taxi from with MJ Cars*. We recommend booking your taxi at least seven days in advance by contacting: 

Tel: +44 (0)1903 745414
Email: mjcars@btconnect.com

A return journey can be arranged on your behalf by the HF Holidays House Manager at Abingworth Hall.

*MJ Cars is not owned or managed by HF Holidays.

Sue's Private Hire
You can pre-book a taxi with Sue's Private Hire* by phone, text or email. Please pre-book asap as there are no taxis based at Pulborough Station. Your journey will be mostly with a lady driver and an electric car.

Tel: +44 (0)1798 874848 / +44 (0)7918 137066
Email:- sueph520@yahoo.com

*Sue's Private Hire is not owned or managed by HF Holidays and prices are subject to change

By car

From the M25  
Take either the A24 or the M23 and then the A264 towards Horsham. At the Great Daux roundabout go south on the A24 towards Worthing. Go straight over two roundabouts and then at the traffic lights turn right onto the A272 to Billingshurst and Petersfield. After three miles turn left onto the B2139. Abingworth Hall is approximately four miles from this junction on the left hand side (go past Abingworth Meadows and Thakeham Pre-School). 

From the M27  
Continue onto the A27 around Chichester. At the second roundabout take the first exit on to the A29, then the second exit on to the B2139 to Storrington. At the mini roundabout, take the second exit onto the A283. Continue through Storrington then turn onto the B2139 towards Thakeham. Take the second exit at the next mini roundabout, then the first exit. Continue down this road until you reach Abingworth Hall on the right.  

By air

The nearest airport is Gatwick Airport. 

The easiest way to get from Gatwick Airport to Abingworth Hall is by taxi, a 29-mile journey taking around 40 minutes. 

The UK has a famously unpredictable climate so it's best to be prepared for weather that’s sunny one minute and raining the next.  To make it easier, here’s a list of items you should consider packing.   

Essentials  

  • Suitable footwear such as waterproof walking boots that provide ankle support and good grip  
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket 
  • Comfortable clothing (jeans & waterproof capes are not suitable)  
  • Mid-layer(s) to keep you warm. Fleeces make a good choice
  • Waterproof overtrousers  
  • Gloves and a warm hat  
  • Rucksack with waterproof liner 
  • Spotting scope and/or binoculars 
  • Flask for hot drinks   
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)  
  • Sunscreen  
  • UV sunglasses  

Recommended  

  • Several base layers (long-sleeve or short-sleeve)  
  • Cushioned walking socks to avoid blisters  
  • First aid kit, including plasters and insect repellent 
  • Sit mat   
  • Waterproof pouch for valuables  
  • Rubbish bag (remember to always leave no trace)  
  • Wallet/purse  
  • Camera 
  • First-aid kit 

Abingworth Hall Calendar

  • Guided Walking
  • Self-Guided Walking
  • Special Interests
  • Unavailable to Book

Guest reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Supplements may apply.

Non-member fee: £30 per person.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take an alternative route, or vary the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.


Holiday prices

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

23 Dec - 30 Dec 2024

7 nights

Christmas

Single from

£1,425

Double from

£1,425 pp

from

£1,425 pp

from

£1,425

Trip Notes
Book Now

27 Dec 2024 - 03 Jan 2025

7 nights

New Year

Single from

£1,289

Double from

£1,289 pp

from

£1,289 pp

from

£1,289

Trip Notes
Book Now
Duration:
7 nights
Type:
Guided walking
Walking Grade:
1 & 2

7 nights from £1,289pp

or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ guests click here

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