AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Escape to the South Downs

Escape to the South Downs

Escape to the South Downs Overview

This short break, in the less-populated reaches of rural southern England, explores the far-seeing escarpment and smooth chalk grassland of the South Downs on foot.

  • self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking, luggage transported
  • rolling countryside, expansive views
  • delve into Germany’s Roman past
  • explore Petworth, a renowned antiques centre
  • stay at two fine pubs with good food

Rudyard Kipling described the landscape in this delightfully rural corner of southern England as “blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed downs”; and the rolling, elevated chalk grassland of the South Downs – offering expansive views across the Weald towards the North Downs from its northern escarpment – makes for exhilarating walking country.

You first see the South Downs in the distance from your first country inn, as you head out to explore Petworth, together with its historic country house and surrounding parkland. On the following day you get a leg-up to the escarpment, now on the South Downs proper, where you follow the ancient ridgeway, which today has acquired the status of a National Trail, ‘The South Downs Way’. As your walks unfold, you have opportunities to encounter prehistoric burial sites and hill-top forts, high points with panoramic views, ‘living’ modern chalk sculptures, ancient yew groves, pretty villages with traditional pubs, shady woodland, and grassland with myriad wildflowers and butterflies. Your accommodation, two traditional but well-heeled hostelries providing excellent food, is another highlight of this short but satisfying break.

Inntravel website: walking holiday, South Downs, UK