South Downs Way gets a permanent start/end point in Winchester

One of the most popular National Trails in the country, the South Downs Way, has finally got an official western start/end point at the National Trust’s Winchester City Mill.

A special way marker has been developed by the South Downs National Park and the National Trust property and made possible thanks in part to a legacy from the family of Barbara Sandford and funding from the National Park Authority. Barbara and her husband Henry met in Winchester and were lifelong supporters of the National Trust.

Barbara’s son Nick Sandford and daughter Helen Greenly said:
“It is entirely appropriate that the South Downs Way starts or finishes at this historic destination of so many walkers and travellers over the years. She was a keen walker all her life, and passed on her love of walking to all her family.”

Margaret Paren, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said:
“With Winchester City Mill now the official ‘gateway’ into the National Park the timing is finally right to set a permanent start or end point for people taking on the South Downs Way. I hope that the 20,000 walkers, cyclists and horse riders who follow the trail each year will find this beautiful marker both useful and inspiring.”

Ric Weeks, Manager of Winchester City Mill, said:
“The official way marker provides the perfect completion to the South Downs Gateway, here at Winchester City Mill. We very much look forward to welcoming more and more visitors, helping them to explore the South Downs and discover the many beautiful National Trust places within the National Park.”

Andy Gattiker, South Downs Way Trail Officer, said:
“This new trail maker is just one part of the new improved route which takes the South Downs Way out of Winchester using off-road shared cycle and walking routes and quiet roads. And, of course, work is now underway to develop a matching marker for the Eastbourne end of the trail.”

About Barbara Sandford

Barbara Sandford and her husband Henry were lifelong supporters of the National Trust and enjoyed visiting many properties over the years. Nick Sandford, their second son, worked for the National Trust for a short period and he understood his mother’s attachment to the City Mill with its charming river island garden and its long history of being a youth hostel.

Facts & figures

  • The South Downs Way is 100 miles/160km long and covers the entire length of the South Downs National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne;
  • it is one of only two National Trails in the country that can be completed by walkers, cyclists and horseriders;
  • more than 20,000 long-distance walkers, cyclists and riders complete the trail every year – that means at least 15 thousand pairs of boots, ten thousand tyres and eight hundred hooves travelling the length of the trail each year;
  • millions more people explore a section of the trail. The South Downs National Park visitor survey estimates there are around 20 million visits to the trail each year;
  • there are 20 beautiful National Trust sites to visit in the South Downs, from coast and countryside to houses and gardens.

Photo (left to right): Ric Weeks, Margaret Paren and Andy Gattiker.