How Londoners can complete a National Trail in 4 weekends

Looking East from Firle Beacon

The South Downs Way goes from Winchester to Eastbourne and is 100 miles in total.

It is close enough to London to complete in four weekends without having to take any time off work, which is always a bonus in my book as it means you can have more holidays!

And that’s exactly what I did in 2006.

I’d head out on the train on Saturday morning, spend Saturday walking, stay over somewhere on Saturday night, walk on Sunday and then get the train back on Sunday evening.

Lines in the grass

You can split it into four two-day sections by using the following stations to travel there and back:

  • Winchester to Petersfield
  • Petersfield to Amberley
  • Amberley to Lewes
  • Lewes to Eastbourne

Most of these stations are en route, except Petersfield (which is about 3 miles off route), and Lewes (which is about 2 miles off route).

It’s a brilliant walk, and as it’s mostly going along the top of the Downs, you get wonderful expansive views for miles and miles. In addition, the walking is very easy. The only problem you’ll have is shelter as the top of the Downs is pretty exposed in wind, sun and rain.

I’d recommend going from Winchester to Eastbourne rather than the other direction, as you end on a huge high with the spectacular Seven Sisters.

Seven Sisters

My walking partner Rambling Man has a detailed summary of how to plan a trip on the South Downs Way.


I always recommend the Aurum Press guides as they contain descriptions as well as Ordnance Survey maps. The thing to note about this one however, is that it describes the route going from Eastbourne to Winchester, so it’s a little weird turning the pages backwards if you are going the other way. Nevertheless I’d still recommend it.

I just love the fact that this can be completed so easily. What a great achievable walking goal!

If you want to see photos from my walks on the South Downs Way, head on over to Flickr.

(p.s. if you want to try out the South Downs Way, details of two walking weekends along it can be found in the Escape London Adventure Pack!)

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