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South Downs National Park: A place for everyone

South Downs National Park: A place for everyone

December 2, 2023

Not all differences or disabilities can be seen, but all come with their own needs and considerations.

The South Downs National Park is a place for all and many visitor attractions and green spaces are working hard to ensure that they offer a welcoming space for everyone to come and feel close to nature and the history of this special and unique landscape. Here are some examples:

Audio Trails

Using words and sounds to bring you closer to the view, there are lots of audio trails available right across the National Park.

At Seven Sisters Country Park discover the Cuckmere Accessible Audio Trail which connects people with the sights, sounds and seasonal changes of this breathtaking coastal gem and follows the Cuckmere Miles Without Stiles route along flat concrete, gravel and grass paths.

Or why not soak up speculative fiction, poetry and new myths by nine Sussex-based writers of colour through the We Hear You Now audio trail stretched across six miles of the iconic chalk landscape of the Seven Sisters Country Park and the Sussex Heritage Coast. Stop at each listening post to let words weave a vision of this special place, its history and its stories.

To delve into the cultural history of the South Downs, try the In Their Footsteps app – an immersive, audio-visual walking experience that tells the unique stories of the people who lived and worked in the South Downs. Follow in the footsteps of author Virgnia Woolf, naturalist Gilbert White and artist Ivon Hitchens by listening to the stories of their time in this special place.

Quiet sessions, headphones and calm spaces

For neurodiverse individuals, strange sounds and loud noises can often be triggers and make for an uncomfortable and heightened visit to visitor attractions.

Many tourist places in the South Downs are now offering quiet sessions, the use of headphones or calm, chillout spaces, for lots of their shows or sessions where you can learn more about the history, culture and landscape of the National Park.

Take a look at the Novium Museum in Chichester, Winchester Science Museum and Planetarium in Hampshire and Towner Eastbourne in East Sussex, to discover what accessibility options they have in place.

Explore by Tramper

Exploring leafy paths, hilltop tracks and heathland trails is now easier for everyone with new mobility scooters or trampers available to hire at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) and Hogmoor Inclosure in Hampshire, as well as at Seven Sisters Country Park in East Sussex.

Head out on one of the many tracks running beneath the mix of beech, western red cedar and western hemlock trees covering the hills of QECP.

Or discover the magical pine covered heathland of Hogmoor Inclosure and calming sea air along the Cuckmere River.

Inclusive Cycling at Alice Holt

Sitting in the northern west end of the National Park, Alice Holt is a great place to while away a chilly day.

Open all year-round with 247 hectares of beautiful forest to explore, it is a perfect spot for a family walk or a cycle along the leafy trails.

With a fleet of inclusive bikes, Alice Holt offers the opportunity for anyone to enjoy the freedom of cycling beneath the tree canopy.

The Activity Centre has an adapted range of cycles to suit all abilities including tricycles, tandems, hand-powered trikes, wheelchair transferable bikes, a wheelchair carrier and side-by-side tandems.

The full range, including images, can be viewed on their equipment page here.

Sessions run every Thursday morning from 9:30 to 12:30 where you can come and try out the different bikes for a small fee of £3 per rider – carers ride for free.

We’d love to see how you’re enjoying the South Downs National Park – please share your photos on social media and tag us #southdownsnp. Enjoy!