The South Downs became the newest National Park in Britain this year, after officially granted the title on 31st March. It covers 2/3 area of beautiful Sussex and stretches from Beachy Head in the east to Harding Down in the west. Here, you will have a chance to witness some of the most varied, stunning and typically English countryside.
The South Downs contains ancient forests, chalk grassland, winding rivers, rolling hills, abundant wildlife and white cliffs. With so much to see here it’s unsurprising that the park is hugely popular with hikers and walkers. There are over 2,000 miles of well-signed and well-managed trails that will take you all over the National Park and take in a myriad of different landscapes. Two of the most popular trails are the South Downs Way and the Monarch’s Way.
The South Downs Way is the longest trail in the park and takes you from England’s ancient capital, Winchester, to the white cliffs of Eastbourne. Along the way you will see beautiful countryside, ancient landmarks, fascinating wildlife and plenty of pubs and pretty villages to stop off in for a rest.
The Monarch’s Way has fascinating routes in English history. Today’s Monarch’s Way closely follows the route taken by King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. For six weeks Cromwell was hotly pursuing the King until he finally made it through the South Downs to the coast at Shoreham where he escaped to France. This trail lets you retrace the King’s footsteps with out the threat of being chased by Cromwell and his army.
Two of the South Downs’ most famous landmarks are the Long Man of Wilmington and the Clayton Windmills. The Long Man of Wilmington is a giant image of a man carved into the hillside and is Europe’s largest representation of a human. This mysterious guardian of the South Downs has baffled historians and archaeologists for centuries. The Clayton Windmills, or Jack and Jill as they are known, have been a feature of the South Downs landscapes for centuries and the picturesque appeal even inspired John Constable.
Exploring the South Downs National Park makes for a fantastic day out or a whole week long holiday as there is just so much to see and do.