South Downs Way
The South Downs Way is a very popular National Trail through South East England's historical South Downs.
Indeed, the route runs through the heart of the proposed South Downs National Park.
It follows paths and roads used for thousands of years, dating back into the stone age.Winchester in East Hampshire, the trail stretches roughly 100 miles to Eastbourne. Most of the trail is shared by walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
As the trail approaches Eastbourne, though, it splits into two alternative routes, the coastal path by the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head being for walkers only.
This is in addition to geological artifacts from the Ice Age through to cultural influence from William the Conqueror through the Georgian and Victorian eras right up to World War II and the modern day.
If you want to walk the entire trail in one go, it's estimated that it would take approximately 8 days. This would drop to 3 or 4 days if you were cycling.
There are in fact 5 smaller sections which make up the South Downs Way - these tend to be around 20 miles each and offer good day trip and weekend activities in themselves.
This is the start point of the South Downs Way.
Winchester - Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Some crossing of roads and negotiation of suburban areas is required in getting from Winchester out onto the South Downs.
Characterised by rolling farmland and wooded areas, there is much to see and do with interesting villages, Nature Reserves and historical sites to take in.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park - Upwaltham
There are lots of views on this section, over the Weald, out to the Isle of White and so on. There are also many villages to detour into, plus Bronze and Iron Age features to see at such places as Heyshott Down and Beacon Hill.
Upwaltham - Upper Beeding
This is a very scenic section, especially as it passes the Arun Valley. There are yet more charming villages to detour into and be sure to take in Amberley Wild Brooks with their abundance of wild birds and flowers.
Upper Beeding - Rodmell
In addition to striking chalk features such as Devil's Dyke, The trail serves up more great views on this section as well as a mixed bag of historical sites of interest, ranging from Neolithic and the Iron Age, through Roman right up to World War II. The route also passes by the Jack and Jill Windmills and Ditchling Beacon.
Rodmell - Eastbourne
Held by many to be the most picturesque section of the South Downs Way and certainly one of the most striking if opting for the walkers-only coastal route past the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.
There is also a northen route for horseriders and cyclists, though walkers are also welcome on the route. Culture-vultures will be keen to detour up to Charleston Farmhouse and the home of the literary Bloomsbury Set.
You can continue reading about other National Trails and Long Distance Walks using the links at the bottom of the page.