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CoolStays Guide to the South Downs National Park

Published: 8th September 2020

The South Downs National Park sits within three counties in the South East - East and West Sussex, and Hampshire - and stretches for 140km from Winchester to Eastbourne. It is a gigantic swathe of marvellous and varied landscapes that have been shaped by centuries of human habitation. With rolling chalk downland, enchanting woodland heaths, and striking white cliffs that fall into the sea, there really is something for everyone.

The South Downs Way

First up, avid walkers and cyclists will want to set out and see as much of the landscape as possible. And the best way to do this is by venturing out onto the South Downs Way that spans the entire length of the park. This was the first bridleway National Trail in England and is a 160km route that is beautiful, diverse, and almost entirely off-road!

With so much on offer you can choose a section and walk it as quickly or as leisurely as you want - we like to wander at a snails pace from quaint country pub to quaint country pub.


Devils Dyke

Devils Dyke serves up one of the most striking views in the National Park and one that painter John Constable considered the grandest in the world. The Dyke is a deep and long grassy valley thats carved right into the hills. At 100 metres deep, 1km long, and 400 metres wide from rim to rim, the Devils Dyke is a real spectacle.

There are a number of fantastic walking routes from the Dyke, as well as plenty of activities to partake in from hang-gliding and model airplane flying to simply picnicking on a hillside in the sunshine.

Seven Sisters

A quintessentially British view, the chalky, rippling cliffs of the Seven Sisters really are a sight to behold. They rise up from the beach between Seaford and Eastbourne, and include the famous beauty spot of Beachy Head.

These cliffs are designated and protected as a 'Heritage Coast' and offer up the most perfect example of chalk cliffs in Britain. Visitors to the Seven Sisters will also be able to wander along a meandering river valley that twists and turns through large open grassland that is a popular spot for activities such as walking, bird watching, canoeing and paddle boarding.


The Kingley Vale Trail

Weve ticked off giant vistas and huge, sheer white cliffs, and now its time to take you to one of the most underrated forests in the UK. This reserve, which is located near Chichester, has one of the finest yew forests in western Europe, which includes a grove of trees that are known to be among the oldest living things in Britain!

Enjoy wandering around these gnarled old trees with twisting trunks and arching branches, whilst keeping your eyes peeled for green woodpeckers, buzzards and bee orchids!

Make sure you sample the local produce!

This region is a treasure-trove for lovers of food and drink. There are over 20 vineyards, and more than 50 breweries in the South Downs, many of which offer you the chance to enjoy a tour and sample their goods - just make sure youre not the designated driver!

The South Downs also has exquisite dairies that produce over 80 regional cheeses, as well as many award-winning artisanal food-makers. So you can enjoy delicious ice cream, beautiful charcuterie, and decadent pies, along with a whole host of other tasty treats.

Where to Stay

Adhurst Estate Yurts

Adhurst Estate Yurts

Petersfield - Hampshire

A magical, rural glampsite in the lush Hampshire woodlands, where four cosy yurts boast luxury home comforts

Sleeps 4

From 165/night

Coppicer's Lodge

Coppicer's Lodge

Petersfield - Hampshire

A romantic, off-grid lodge in the magical Hampshire woods complete with private glamping facilities and spellbinding vistas...

Sleeps 6

From 170/night

Brocklands Farm Glamping

Brocklands Farm Glamping

West Meon - Hampshire

Safari on the South Downs at this glampsite, with views over the Meon valley and nature on your doorstep.

Sleeps 6

From 114/night

Flint House

Flint House

Chichester - West Sussex

Stunning brick and flint built farmhouse in Sussex with beautiful gardens and a tennis court. Sleeping 12 it is perfect for a family celebration!

Sleeps 12

From 643/night

The White Horse

The White Horse

Chilgrove - West Sussex

Charming inn with marvellous rooms, private hot tubs, and lovely country views, situated near the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex.

Sleeps 14

From 70/night

Blue Door Barns

Blue Door Barns

Lewes - East Sussex

Rustic charm meets pure luxury - Fabulous 16th century converted barns offering a stunning getaway tucked neatly between Lewes and the South Downs

Sleeps 2-4 per barn

From 115/night

The Grain Store Lewes

The Grain Store Lewes

Lewes - East Sussex

Ultra-contemporary converted granary in the heart of the Sussex Downs, replete with modern luxuries and three double bedrooms

Sleeps 6

From 240/night

The Hovel at Housedean

The Hovel at Housedean

Lewes - East Sussex

Romantic converted barn in the South Downs National Park with a private patio and wood-burning stove, close to Brighton and Lewes.

Sleeps 2

From 105/night

Belle Tout Lighthouse

Belle Tout Lighthouse

Eastbourne - East Sussex

Lighthouse converted in to a charming and unique B&B, slap bang on the South Downs Way, complete with panoramic views of the English Channel, the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.

Sleeps 12

From 160/night

Author:
Claire Wills
Claire is the International Editor for CoolStays. It's her mission to scout the globe for new amazing places to show you. You can follow her on Twitter, @clairelewills

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