While the South Downs is known for its marvellously carved chalk ranges and coastal wonders, there are plenty of things to do in the Downs to make your travel more meaningful and magical.
Here are 5 ways to make your visit to the South Downs more profound:
Rediscover its history
There’s nothing more exciting than walking in the footsteps of those who came before us. South Downs feature the Arundel Castle which was home to the Duke of Norfolk himself, something Jane Austen even wrote about. The Lewes Castle is a fun castle filled with old staircases, under which lie plenty of historical stories.
Of course, the National Park should also be central to your travel plans. It features around 5,000 buildings and 166 Conservation Areas, which carries the long history of the chalk grasslands county and there’s always something more to see.
Volunteer for the children
Volunteering can be a meaningful way to get to know a place in a more in-depth manner.
A National Education Union study says that children are getting worse at school due to poverty. Because of how many people around the world see the UK, it might come as a surprise to know that many families here are poor. An alarming report by charity organisation Save the Children points out how more than a quarter of England’s children still live in poverty – many of which are from families that live in the South Downs. Soup kitchens and charity shops in the Downs are always in need of a helping hand.
Bike on its mountains
As the South Downs is known for its chalk hills and a wide range of valleys, mountain biking here is a great option. One of the most popular in the UK for its iconic chalk-laden pathways and views, the South Downs Way welcomes around 20,000 bikers a year. Bike with the winds beneath your pedals as you travel along the River Adur and pass by the Devil’s Dyke and the Ditchling Beacon. The hilly trails consist of a network of around 3,200 kilometres of off-road paths that are accessible and can accommodate both beginners and experienced bikers – perfect for a weekend of biking with the family.
The Queen Elizabeth Country Park is also becoming a popular choice for cyclists. And the Monarch’s Way passes by coastal views and ends in Shoreham-by-Sea.
Marvel at the archaeological features of the South Downs first hand. While the Downs is known for its cradled ancient societies, the BBC reports on a recent discovery that these civilisations must have been on par with ancient Greek, Egypt, and Rome. A laser scanning survey revealed that a large portion of arable land between Lamb Lea Woods and Charlton Forest was cultivated by an ancient civilisation even before Rome.
There are also Neolithic flint mines around the National Park, which represent the level of innovation attained by these civilisations.
Reconnect with nature
Visit the ancient and fantastic yew forests deep within the South Downs. Camping in the The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Arundel is a great way to unwind. Children will love the birds that frequent this 26 acre park as well as the water voles and migrant birds.
While the national parks in South Downs are considered the ‘lungs of the southeast UK’, the increasing number of people living in and near animals’ habitats are driving them away. However, locals are doing their best to strike a balance between tourism and protecting the environment – and its working. Recent reports from rangers in the South Downs National Park show that otters are gradually returning to the area. So it goes without saying that mindful tourism is something everyone should consider when they set out on their next trip.