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, though it’s only had National Park status since 2011, making it the newest of the UK’s national parks.
Stretching across three counties (East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire) and covering an area of 1627km2, it encompasses a wide range of landscapes, from dramatic chalk cliffs to rolling hills in the countryside.
Back in May 2016 the Park became the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), making it only the second site in England, and 14th in the world to be given the status. It ensures they remain committed to protecting the dark skies above the National Park, and reducing the effects of light pollution.
Whether you prefer to spend your time near the coast, exploring historical towns, or navigating your way along bridleways and cycle trails, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this beautiful part of the world.
Places to Visit
Inspired by the Baroque palaces of Europe and nestled in the South Downs, Petworth House displays the finest art collection in the care of the National Trust. Explore the beautifully landscaped deer park which is an ideal place for picnics and walking, with panoramic views of the South Downs.
Frensham Great Pond and Common is a Green Flag Award winning site, situated between Farnham and Hindhead. The man-made beach stretches along a 13th century lake giving ample opportunity to sunbathe and swim in warm weather. The woodland trails and bridle paths around the pond and common provide plenty of opportunity to enjoy nature!
Ditchling Beacon is the third-highest point on the South Downs. Take a moment to stop and enjoy stunning views across the weald and the downs. There’s plenty of space here to explore, go on an adventure or simply enjoy a good walk.
This stunning Country Park is named after the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs on one of Britain’s finest unspoilt coastlines. Made up of 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, meandering river valley and open chalk grassland, it is a popular place for a number of outdoor activities.
Explore more than 1000 years of history in Europe’s longest medieval Cathedral. A free children’s trail, written by a professional children’s writer, offers families a fun and informative look at the Cathedral and introduces them to some of the characters associated with its colourful past and present.
Goodwood Racecourse is renowned for being the most beautiful racecourse in the world. Perched high on the Downs with stunning views towards Chichester and beyond, it enjoys an enviable location that sets it apart from other racecourses to create a truly unforgettable race day experience.
South Downs Activities
The South Downs Way is a long distance footpath and bridleway running the entire 160km width of the South Downs. Experience some of the finest countryside this region has to offer, between Winchester, the first capital of England, and the white chalk cliffs at Eastbourne.
Arundel Wetlands is one of nine wildfowl and wetland nature reserves managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust here in the UK. Situated near the stunning Arundel Castle, this 60 acre reserve gives you the chance to spot kingfishers from the boat safari, hand feed geese at World Wetlands and stroll gentle, quiet paths to watch the incredible wildlife.
What better way to soak up the majesty of the South Downs than from the skies. Experience peaceful tranquillity as you take in the jaw-dropping beauty with views right out as far as the Isle of Wight.
Places to Stay
Concierge Camping, West Ashling, Chichester, PO18 8DL
Southdown Way Caravan & Camping Park, Hassocks, BN6 8LX
Folly Farm Caravan Park, Winchester SO21 2PH
Latchetts Caravan and Camp Site, Lewes, BN8 6HE
Ship & Anchor Marina Camping Site, Arundel, BN18 0BJ