4 places to visit in the South Downs for book lovers

Unsurprisingly, the wild and rugged landscape of the South Downs has captivated and inspired a number of literary figures throughout England’s history. If you’re a bookworm or a writer yourself, we’ve put together the top South Downs attractions that cannot be missed during your trip.

1. Jane Austen’s Hometown

The quiet and quaint village of Chawton, which is nestled in the middle of the South Downs countryside, was once called home by the iconic Jane Austen.

Pop by to visit the very house where she wrote many of her stories. In fact, it was here that she wrote Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park, and brought Mr. Darcy to life as she put the finishing touches on Pride and Prejudice.

You can walk in the footsteps – literally – of this literary giant with several designated walking paths that mimic the routes that Jane Austen used to take through the area. You can even stop by and pay your respects at her graveside in St. Nicholas’ Church cemetery, where she is buried with her family.

2. Winchester Literary Festival

If you’re a budding writer yourself, then a trip to the Winchester Literary Festival is absolutely essential.

This annual event is put on by the University of Winchester in June, and offers an engaging programme of classes and discussions to encourage your literary pursuits. Up to 70 agents and editors attend each year, offering you the chance to ask questions about writing, publishing, and more.

You can opt to take a workshop and hone your skills, or simply enjoy learning from the experts by attending some of the author talks.

3. The Keats Walk

While you’re in Winchester, you must also take the opportunity to visit John Keats’ places of literary inspiration.

If you turn up at the end of the summer, you will be able to see Winchester as Keats did when he wrote ‘To Autumn’ during his visit to the city in 1819. You can take in the same sights as this extraordinary poet did every day – the ancient buildings, the cobbled streets, and the lush surrounding landscape.

The walk is just two miles, so you can enjoy a leisurely stroll without any pressure!

4. The Kipling Trail

If you’re in Sussex, you can step into the shoes of Rudyard Kipling while reciting his famous poem ‘If’ during one of the South Downs walking tours dedicated to his life.

You can choose a shorter path, or opt for a vigorous walk of up to 8 miles, while visiting locations such as the Roedean School where Kipling was educated, or the area where he grew up in Rottingdean.

This blend of history, culture, and unbeatable natural beauty is something only available during a South Downs day out.


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