Every year there are 39 million individual visits to the South Downs National Park - over 4 million of these by local residents. As the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), we have to balance our duty to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area with the needs and expectations of our many visitors.
As well as being recognised as an area of exceptional natural beauty and cultural heritage, the National Park status recognises the Downs’ considerable opportunities for recreation.
The most popular reasons for visiting the Downs are walking, horse riding and cycling as well as simply taking time to breathe in the fresh air, absorb the landscape and enjoy the wonderful views. For the more adventurous, there is paragliding, hang-gliding, golf, zorbing, mountain-boarding and a range of water sports.
Unique in that 85% of its 1600 square kilometre area is privately owned working farm land, the Park has an extensive network of public Rights of Way, open access sites and way-marked trails offering an opportunity to explore the full breadth and scale of the National Park’s landscape.
There are also a number of beautiful country parks and other managed recreational sites to explore and enjoy including the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Waterlooville and Stanmer Park near Brighton. These offer a safe, well-run environment for people to discover the countryside and appreciate the natural world.
The SDNPA works directly with local communities, landowners and other conservation organisations to provide recreational facilities, and run proactive projects such as Sussex Pathwatch to safeguard our unique landscape for future generations to enjoy.