- What is the South Downs Way?
The 100 miles (160 Km) long South Downs Way National Trail follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs. The route provides the visitor with the opportunity “to get away from it all” without having to travel too far in this busy part of England. The undulating route provides a wonderful trip for long distance riders as well as walkers. It also provides interesting day trips and short breaks.
- How long does it take to complete the trail
Most people take 8 or 9 days to walk the whole 100 miles (160km) at 12 – 15 miles (25km) a day.
It’s worth considering if you are walking that the villages where accommodation is are at the foot of the hill so you’ll have to walk down in the evening and up in the morning.
To cycle the South Downs Way takes 2 or 3 days if you are used to off road cycling. It is possible to do it in a day but that’s an extreme challenge! There’s about 12,600ft (3800m) of climb as well as the 100 miles (160km) of distance.
- What is the fastest time to complete the trail?
That’s not such an easy question to answer – there are lots of fastest times :
- Fastest SDW double double cycle (completing the Trail 4 times without stopping) is Rob Colliver at 55 hours
- The fastest run of the SDW was set by Mark Perkins during the timed Centurion Running SDW 100 event in 2014, when he recorded a time of 14:03.54
- Fastest SDW single cycle ride is Ian Leitch at 7 hrs 3 mins
- Fastest SDW double cycle is currently Ian Leitch at 15 hrs 35 mins
- Fastest SDW double on a single speed bike is Rob Dean at 18 hrs 41 mins
- Fastest SDW double cycle by a female is Lydia Gould at 27 hrs 26 mins
- Fastest SDW triple cycle is currently Richard Sterry in 37 hrs 04 mins
- Fastest horse ride is unknown
- Fastest non-motorised wheelchair user to complete the SDW is Swasie Turner in 9 days!
- How hard is it?
Anyone who is reasonably fit can walk the South Downs Way – if you can comfortably walk say 12 miles (20km) in a day you shouldn’t have a problem. You’ll enjoy it more if you do a few long day walks beforehand to get fitter.
You should be used to off road cycling before you commit yourself to cycling the South Downs Way – doing it in anything less than 3 days will require quite a high degree of fitness.
The South Downs Way is much more of a challenge for horse riders because of the road crossings and logistics of accommodation for horses.
- Who manages the South Downs Way?
There is a dedicated team at the South Downs National Park Authority looking after the South Downs Way day to day. This team is funded and guided by the South Downs Way Trail Partnership made up of the South Downs National Park Authority, Natural England, Hampshire County Council, West Sussex County Council and East Sussex County Council.
- How can I get involved?
The South Downs Way couldn’t be maintained without the help of dedicated volunteers. Our volunteers get involved in surveying, practical work, helping at public events and administration.
The South Downs National Park has a dedicated volunteer coordinator. If you’re interested in volunteering on the National Trail or across the South Downs you can find out more.
You can find out more about the South Downs Way over on the National Trails website.