The South Downs Way is a long distance footpath and bridleway running along the South Downs in southern England. The trail runs for 160 km (100 mi) from Winchester in Hampshire, to Eastbourne in East Sussex with about 4,150 m (13,620 ft) of ascent and descent.
Distance 162.1 km
Much of the South Downs Way is on high chalk downland and the views are always interesting. Perhaps the most dramatic vistas are on the high chalk cliffs on the Seven Sisters, Sussex towards Beachy Head and before the descent to Eastbourne. However, there are also superb views in clear weather from the ridgeway sections on the tops of the downs, especially on Ditchling Beacon.
The Way lies within the South Downs National Park. There is plenty of historic interest along the way, such as the Long Man of Wilmington near Eastbourne, as mentioned above. Diversions are needed to visit Brighton or Lewes, the latter town being of great beauty with an historic centre. Without exception it is a very well maintained and signposted route. While it crosses various villages for provisions much of it is surprisingly isolated and quiet considering the density of the population in south-east England.
It can be walked at a leisurely pace in about a week while a good walker, horse rider or cyclist would take two or three days. It is closed to motorised traffic along the route and this rule is generally observed.
Various events are held along the route; including the British Heart Foundation's annual Randonee. Part or all of the 100 miles is cycled to raise funds for heart disease, the fastest times are sub 8 hours with most riders taking under 14 hours.
Part of the South Downs Way is also run by the Gurkhas (normally the Queen's Gurkha Signals), for Oxfam's Trailwalker, the UK's 'toughest team charity challenge'. It is a non-stop 100 km endurance event along the South Downs Way to raise money for Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
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