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
Grab your broomstick and wave your magic wand for a wizarding trip around the South Downs locations used in the Harry Potter films. Warner Brothers
Hear about all the South Downs National Park and surrounding areas have to offer.
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With over 3,300 kilometres of rights of way and some of the finest scenery in the South of England, the South Downs National Park is the ideal place to go walking and enjoy the breath-taking views. While you’re exploring the South Downs why not have a go at geocaching? There are 30 geocache sites to discover in the park and you can earn extra points if you choose an eco-friendly means of transport or eat at a local café. If you are feeling adventurous, you can walk the whole of the South Downs Way, one of the UK’s National Trails. It usually takes around 8 or 9 days to complete the 160km trail, and you can arrange to have your baggage transported from one stop-off point to the next.
There are 1,200 kilometres of bridleways which are open to cyclists across the South Downs, and with 15 cycle hire places in the park, you don’t even need to bring your own bicycle. If you want a long cycle ride, the entire length of the South Downs Way is suitable for cycling.
With minimal light pollution, the South Downs National Park is one the best places for stargazing in the South East of England. In 2016 the park was named an International Dark Sky Reserve, only the second such region in England and the twelfth in the world.
There are some fine historic estates within the park, including Petworth House and Uppark, both owned by the National Trust. In the historic town of Lewes visit the Norman castle which is set high on a hill and affords wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and as far the sea on a clear day. You can also visit the home of one of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleeves.
The South Downs National Park is in easy reach of central London, and it is also readily accessible from Gatwick Airport. The train journey from London Victoria to Lewes takes just over an hour, and there are also regular services to places such as Brighton, Eastbourne and Winchester, from where you can quickly travel to the South Downs Park by bus or cycling.
Considered by many to be the most attractive part of South East England, the South Downs National Park has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1966. The South Downs region was awarded National Park status in 2011, making it the newest of the UK’s national parks. The South Downs National Park spans much of the area between the seaside resort of Eastbourne and the city of Winchester which dates back to Roman times. Its 1,625 km2 encompass a wide range of landscapes, from dramatic chalk cliffs to rolling hills in the countryside. It is home to charming villages such as Alfriston, Ditchling and Firle, as well as several historic towns including Arundel, Lewes and Midhurst.
The park is situated in the most prosperous of England’s regions, the South East, which attracts millions of tourists every year. Tourism is very important to the area, generating over £2,572 million in income each year. Around 70% of the region is farmed and forests cover around 14% of the land, with the South East region incorporating the four most wooded counties in the country.