Tourism and Tours

South Downs National Park | A chance to see some of the UK’s most beautiful birds

The South Downs National Park is England’s newest national park, designated on 31 March 2010. The park, covering an area of 1,627 square kilometres in southern England, stretches for 140 kilometres from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex. The national park covers the chalk hills of the South Downs and a substantial part of a separate physiographic region, the western Weald, with its heavily wooded sandstone and clay hills and vales. The South Downs Way spans the entire length of the park and is the only National Trail that lies wholly within a national park. Wikipedia

Escape to the South Downs and become revitalised in this peaceful and relaxing part of Hampshire.

Confirmed as a National Park in 2009, the stunning landscape of the South Downs stretches from Winchester and Petersfield in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex.

The western tip of the South Downs can be found in the heart of Winchester at the magnificent 11th century cathedral. Just one mile from the city centre the South Downs comes into its own with the beautiful countryside of St Catherine’s Hill.

The market towns of Petersfield and Alton are also ideal starting points to explore the South Downs, in the East of Hampshire, as they are full of interest and are dotted with comfortable hotels, B&B’s and self catering cottages.

Best for

long-distance walks in the UK

This is the UK’s newest national park, though its wide-open spaces have long been a precious retreat in the densely populated southeast: with rolling hills commanding views down to the Weald and out to the Channel. The 100-mile South Downs Way traverses the entire park – from the spire of Winchester Cathedral to the beach at Eastbourne – but many hikers hail the final coastal section past the chalky heights of Beachy Head as the best.

Where to stay at South Downs National Park

The rambling, red brick Ram Inn in Firle has been a B&B for 500 years, with five smart rooms to rest trail-weary limbs.

Great days out at South Downs National Park

It was in the Sussex village of Felpham that William Blake wrote the lines to Jerusalem that celebrate ‘England’s pleasant pastures’ and ‘mountains green’.

Today, the South Downs National Park continues to inspire writers, poets, artists and creatives of all kinds.

As one of ‘Britain’s Breathing Spaces’, the South Downs welcomes thousands of visitors every year who hike, cycle, run, picnic and relax amongst the rolling green pastures, ancient woodlands, river valleys and dramatic coastline of the National Park.

Come, visit, stay and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the South Downs National Park.

Where to Stay in South Downs National Park

Campsites and shepherd huts, farmstays and barnstays. B&Bs and Yurts. A double decker bus or the lighthouse at Beachy Head. Whatever sort of accommodation you are looking for in the South Downs National Park, you’ll find it through our accommodation partners Responsible Travel.

The 15 UK National Parks have a national partnership with Sykes Holiday Cottages, who are encouraging everyone to discover their ideal National Park break. What’s more, your booking will help support our vital work.

If you want to spend a little longer in the South Downs, there are no better places to be.

Outdoor Activities in the South Downs National Park

Walk, cycle or ride on horseback along the 101 mile South Downs Way and enjoy the wonderful, rolling countryside, described by Bill Bryson as ‘some of England’s finest’.

A unique feature of this landscape is the hanging woods or hangers. You can walk the Hangers Way, a 21 mile path from Alton to Queen Elizabeth Country Park through Selborne, Steep and Petersfield.

Walks in the South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park is one of England’s newest National Parks and offers peaceful countryside with rolling hills and panoramic views. It has 3,300km of footpaths, bridleways and byways waiting to be explored.

Cycling in the South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park is one of the most popular destinations for both road and off-road cycling in Southern England. You can explore the rolling hills, ancient woodland, water meadows and the bustling market towns of the South Downs National Park.

Attractions in the South Downs National Park

Elevated upon the South Downs, with fine panoramic views to the sea is the historic house of Uppark. Stansted Park is also worth a visit.

Other places of interest are the villages of Selborne, where you can visit Gilbert White’s House and the Oates Collection, East Meon, the source of the River Meon and Buriton, home of Edward Gibbon.

Food & Drink in the South Downs National park

The local pubs, restaurants and tea rooms provide a warm welcome to visitors and here you’ll find locally-brewed beers, scrumptious cakes and home-cooked meals, as well as many farm shops and specialist food shops.

At Rother Valley Organics, near Petersfield, there’s a tempting choice of organic beef, duck, goose, lamb or venison while the Triple FFF traditional brewery near Alton produces award-winning ales with names such as Pressed Rat & Warthog and Alton’s Pride.

Petersfield and Alton have regular weekly markets for fresh vegetables, fruit and local produce and there are also farmers’ markets in both towns throughout the year.

At Gilbert White’s house at Selborne you’ll find an elegant, award-winning White’s Café where you can try speciality teas and home-made cakes.

The café at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park also sells home-made cakes, biscuits and soups along with many local products.