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Ten reasons why the South Downs National Park is amazing!

Ten reasons why the South Downs National Park is amazing!

April 3, 2023

The South Downs is Britain’s newest National Park and covers more than 1,600 square kilometres of some of the most iconic, diverse and beautiful landscapes you’re ever likely to see.

If you’re looking for walking adventures, breathtaking views, connections with wildlife, and pretty chocolate-box villages, this is the place for you.

So, as we celebrate the start of Discover National Parks fortnight, let’s take a quick look at what makes the South Downs National Park so special:

  1. It’s for everyone

The South Downs was designated for the enjoyment of the entire nation. It’s located in the busiest part of the UK and is a place to escape to, find inspiration and breathe just a little more easily.

  1. It’s buzzing with wildlife

Did you know the South Downs National Park has over 1,000 nature reserves and wildlife sites? Its colourful chalk grassland is famous for being “Europe’s rainforest” in miniature, with over 40 different species of wildflower and over 20 species of butterfly in just one square metre. Some of its purple heathlands have 12 of Britain’s 13 native reptile and amphibian species and did we mention the South Downs has otters living in its rare crystal-clear chalk streams?

The biodiversity is incredible, but could be even more diverse, so that’s why the National Park is hoping to create 13,000 hectares of new habitat for wildlife over the next decade – that’s the equivalent of 21,000 footy pitches!

  1. It has bright blue butterflies

Who can fail to be captivated by the sight of an Adonis Blue dancing through the greenery?

  1. It’s super accessible

Wherever you are in the South Downs, you’re never far from a major transport route. With railway stations at Petersfield, Liss, Amberley and Lewes and a large network of bus connections, it’s so easy to escape for the day. If you’re still “finding your feet” with walking in wide open landscapes, this is the place for you as there are several Miles Without Stiles routes that are perfect for all mobility and fitness levels.

  1. It’s got a bit of everything

The South Downs is a place where coast and country meet, where historic towns and downs sit side by side. Around a quarter of the landscape is covered by woodland, while seven stunning river valleys cut through the chalk ridge. The stunning Seven Sisters cliffs are probably one of the biggest “wow” spots, but the 2,000-year-old yew trees at Kingley Vale are surely not far behind.

Spirit of the Sea by Cathryn Mantovani – Seven Sisters in South Downs National Park
  1. It’s the sunniest National Park in the UK

With the South Downs Way trailing some 100 miles along the south coast of England, there are fewer nice places to walk on a warm summer’s day. Owing to its sunny climate and chalky soils, the South Downs is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in the UK, with over 50 vineyards dotted across the National Park.

  1. The history will blow your mind

This is a landscape that has stood the test of time. While the geology is fascinating (the chalk beneath your feet is the remains of tiny sea animals that lived during the age of the dinosaurs), the cultural heritage to see and explore is quite breathtaking! Want to see a fairytale castle? Arundel. Would like to see an internationally-important art collection? Petworth. Would like to see a Viking burial ground? Kingley Vale. The home of Britain’s first birdwatcher? Selborne. The list goes on and on!


  1. It has more people living in it than any other National Park in the UK

With over 117,000 residents, the South Downs is a thriving, friendly community. People are one of its greatest strengths as it means more people to care for the landscape and ensure future generations can enjoy this incredible National Park.


  1. The adventures are endless

With over 3,300 km (more than 2000 miles) of rights of way, you’d have to walk from Lewes to John o’Groats and back again to cover it all.


  1. It has water voles

Enough said! 😊

Water Vole by Dick Hawkes

Get started on your next adventure in the South Downs National Park here.