The South Downs National Park is the newest of the UK’s national parks, only being fully covered by the law in 2011. One of the most striking features of the park is the range of chalk hills, visited by nature lovers, families and hikers alike. The hills run from their westernmost point in Winchester, all the way across Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex. They then turn into the white cliffs along the English Channel, finally terminating at Beachy Head. Along with this karst scenery and rolling hills, the South Downs National Park also encompasses western parts of the Weald area, which offer visitors a contrast to hills and downs.
Our experts at Visit South Downs know that this is an area of outstanding natural beauty and have listed some facts about the South Downs that you probably didn’t know.
Facts about the South Downs
1. It’s the most popular UK National Park
Despite being the newest area of land to receive national park status, the South Downs is the most visited park, receiving approximately 39 million visitors per year. To put this into perspective, the next most popular national park is the Lake District, which only receives 24 million visitors annually.
2. It’s home to lots of sheep!
The park is home to a large number of sheep, totalling somewhere between 110,000 and 125,000 at any one time.
3. Despite it being a park, there are lots of historic buildings
The area has been lived on by tribes of people since ancient times, meaning that there are many places of historical interest for visitors, the vast majority being built during the period immediately after Romans settled in Britain in the 1st Century AD. Within the area, there are 5,171 listed buildings, of which 152 are listed as Grade 1.
4. It provides habitats for many rare animals
Within the park, there are over 660 sites of special interest, all of which are protected by law, and a number of unique habitats that allow rare and endangered animals and plants to thrive. An amazing 39 different types of butterfly can be found living within the South Downs, including the extremely rare Duke of Burgundy.
5. There is so much water!
A huge amount of groundwater is extracted from the South Downs every year, and the total volume is the equivalent to filling 86,000 Olympic swimming pools each year!
For more information about the South Downs, what to see or suggestions on where to stay, please take a look at https://visitsouthdowns.com/.