Best walks in the South Downs National Park

From the chalk streams of Hampshire to the towering cliffs of East Sussex, here is our guide to the most magical hikes in the South Downs National Park

Seven-Sisters-a67ba3c

Comprising undulating chalk downland, dry valleys and huge coastal cliffs, the South Downs National Park is one of Britain’s most precious landscapes.

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Take to the trail with our guide to the South Downs best walks and discover 260 square miles of spectacular countryside, interwoven with dozens of thriving towns and villages.


Cuckmere River, Sussex

The slow-moving nature of the Cuckmere’s lower meanders encourages the deposition of large quantities of fluvial sediment – the raised riverbed, as a result, has left parts of the waterway just a few centimetres deep
The slow-moving nature of the Cuckmere’s lower meanders encourages the deposition of large quantities of fluvial sediment – the raised riverbed, as a result, has left parts of the waterway just a few centimetres deep ©Alamy

Follow this seven-mile walk along the Cuckmere River, from the picturesque village of Alfriston to the monumental Seven Sisters chalk cliffs on the Sussex south coast.

The route

  • 10.8km/6.7 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Cuckmere River map

North Marden to East Marden, West Sussex

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) close-up among many others
Bluebells cover the woodland floor in spring ©Getty

Walk through a tranquil landscape of ancient field patterns, Norman churches and wooded hills in the South Downs National Park.

The route

  • 11.3km/7 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

North Marden map

Firle Beacon, East Sussex

Lewes east sussex england, United Kingdom
The way begins in the East Sussex town of Lewes ©Getty

A long and invigorating walk in the South Downs National Park from the lively town of Lewes, via the impressive Mount Caburn, Firle Beacon and Itford Hill, to the historic village of Rodmell.

The route

  • 19.7km/12.2 miles
  • 7.5 hours
  • Challenging

Map and route

Firle Beacon map

Seven Sisters, East Sussex

For many, these huge chalk cliffs are even more picturesque than the famous White Cliffs of Dover up the coast
For many, these huge chalk cliffs are even more picturesque than the famous White Cliffs of Dover up the coast ©Alamy

At the National Trust hamlet of Birling Gap, the sea’s aroma sits strong in the air. From the top of the steps above the beach and its numerous rockpools, the views of the Seven Sisters and Seaford Head are excellent.Walk atop the magnificent chalky cliffs of the Seven Sisters in the South Downs, where kittiwakes and fulmars can be seen alongside Brimstone butterflies and flowering cowslips.

The route

  • 6km/3.7 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Seven Sisters map

Meon Valley, Hampshire

South Downs National Park in England, with Old Winchester hill in the distance ©Getty
South Downs National Park in England, with Old Winchester hill in the distance ©Getty

Discover a landscape shaped by man and nature over 6,000 years on a walk that enters the heart of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire.

The route

  • 15km/9.3 miles
  • 5.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Meon Valley, Hampshire map

Ouse Valley, East Sussex

Firle Beacon
Firle Beacon ©Getty

Navigate the meandering banks of the River Ouse, discover Virginia Woolf’s 17th-century country retreat and climb to the summit of Firle Beacon with a walk through the Ouse Valley in East Sussex. Maps and Routes


Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex

Poppies bloom on the side of Ditching Beacon
Poppies bloom on the side of Ditchling Beacon ©Getty

Explore Devil’s Dyke – the longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK – and the 248m peak of Ditching Beacon. Maps and Route with the National Trust.


Cissbury Ring, Sussex

Solitary tree at sundown on Cissbury Ring
Solitary tree at sundown on Cissbury Ring ©Getty
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Discover the 5,000-year-long history of Cissbury Ring, the largest hill fort in Sussex. Maps and route with the National Trust.