5 ways to Discover the South Downs

March 4, 2015

From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover 1,600km2 of breathtaking views, hidden gems and quintessentially English scenery. A rich tapestry of wildlife, landscapes, tranquillity and visitor attractions, weave together a story of people and place in harmony.

Our iconic South Downs Way National Trail is always inviting but why not get a fresh perspective of the South Downs and try one of these other routes.

  1. Egrets Way
    A new route through the Ouse valley from Kingston to Lewes and Newhaven. Currently the sections between Kingston and Lewes, and Rodmell and Southease have been completed, with Lewes to Piddinghoe scheduled for summer 2015. Once complete they will provide some lovely linear cycle routes for all the family, plus connectivity to the undulating South Downs Way.
  2. The Shipwrights Way
    The Shipwrights Way is a 50 mile route which links villages and towns through the South Downs National Park to the historic Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home of the Mary Rose and HMS Victory. The majority of the route has been opened, with the exception of a missing section through Whitehill and Bordon and Woolmer Forest. 20 beautifully carved stone sculptures showing the history or wildlife of each place lie along the route, waiting to be discovered.
  3. Centurion Way
    This five mile route runs from Chichester to West Dean. West Dean House and Gardens and Downland Open Air Museum at Singelton can be reached on the road within ½ a mile and 1 mile respectively. In Chichester the route connects with the South Coast Cycle Route at Fishbourne where cyclists can continue westwards to visit Fishbourne Roman Palace and Bosham and southwards along the Salterns Way to Chichester Harbour and the Witterings.
  4. Downs Link
    This 36.7-mile footpath and bridleway links the North Downs Way at St. Martha’s Hill in Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning in West Sussex. Connecting a variety of habitats these disused railways pass banks of wildflowers, trees, hedges, woodlands, rivers, ponds and streams. Butterflies, such as fritillaries and admirals, can be seen fluttering in the sunny sheltered woodland glades, and you can see kingfishers fishing from the railway bridges. You may even be lucky to spot glow worms and bats foraging for food on warm summer nights.
  5. Meon Valley Trail
    Stretching for five miles, this almost traffic free trail runs along a fairly flat disused railway track from Wickham to West Meon through the beautiful Meon Valley. It takes in the secret place where Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle met on a train to finalise plans for the D-Day landings. Following the River Meon the trail offers the chance to spot wildlife such as butterflies, primroses, kingfishers and otters. Connecting with the South Downs Way, the trail provides easy access to Old Winchester Hill and Beacon Hill. Works to improve the trail are well underway and scheduled to be completed before June 2015.

Hire a Bike

If you don’t own a bike why not hire one. Here’s a list of places to hire in the South Downs…

  1. Bespoke Biking, Winchester – 07920 776994
  2. Meon Springs, East Meon – 01730 823134
  3. Alice Holt, Farnham – 01420 521297
  4. All Ride Now, Midhurst – 01730 817563
  5. Midhurst Bike Repair, Midhurst – 07765 776454
  6. Adur Outdoor Activity Centre, Shoreham – 01273 462928
  7. Cyclelife Shoreham – 01273 596368
  8. Summit Bikes, Selsey – 01243 697547
  9. Hassocks Community Cycle Hire, Hassocks – 07521 961909
  10. South Downs Way Bike Hire, Housedean Farm – 07919 668816
  11. Let’s Bike Eastbourne – 07875 591648
  12. Walk & Cycle – 01730 266432
  13. Southwater Cycles – 01403 732561
  14. Coastal Cycles – 01903 730089