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Site last updated 09/11/20143

The South Downs

The South Downs are characterised by rolling chalk grassland, deep dry valleys, and extensive views over the Weald to the north and the sea to the south.

The South Downs Way has the distinction of being Britain’s first long distance bridleway. Designated in 1972 the route runs for a distance of about 160km between Eastbourne and Winchester, the ancient capital of Britain.

One of the best features of the South Downs Way is the variety of scenery that is offers. In Hampshire, it generally passes through rolling farm land; the National Nature reserve at Old Winchester Hill in the Meon Valley, is probably the high point of this part of the route.  In West Sussex the route passes through some open grassland but much of the route here is well wooded, shady in summer and sheltered in winter. East Sussex has the most classic open downland, with views south to the sea and north to Ashdown Forest. The chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head are always impressive.  

The area is appropriate for expeditions on foot, cycle or horse. It is also worth exploring the possibility of undertaking a water expedition as the South Downs includes access to a number of tidal rivers.

Please remind your teams about littering as we are receiving several complaints.

Please use drop cards appropriately and do not leave them out expecting somebody else to pick them up.

The information contained in this website is specific for the South Downs area and should be read alongside The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Handbook, and the Expedition Guide. This website does not in any way replace these sources of information, all of which are essential reading.

This site is maintained by the South Downs Expedition Assessor Network and supported by the Operating Authorities named it is not a part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Charity.