South Downs Way

South Downs Way

A walk along the chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex, from Winchester to Eastbourne.

3 to 11 nights
22-102 miles
Moderate to Demanding / Strenuous

From £425 per person

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About the trail

Walk the length of the chalk downs of Hampshire and Sussex on the South Downs Way, which dips into beautiful river valleys to visit Norman and Saxon churches, deserted medieval villages, and historic thatched villages bursting with flowers.

This spectacular National Trail boasts a wealth of old beacon viewpoints overlooking patchwork fields and woodland. Those inland vistas are matched only by the breath-taking views from chalk clifftop trails out over the English Channel at the adventure’s end. The South Downs Way is a stunning walking holiday through iconic English terrain.

We offer multiple holiday options along this trail. If you wish to experience the entire trail, simply select the first option from the list below.

Choose your route

  • South Downs Way
  • South Downs Way - East Section
  • South Downs Way - West Section
  • South Downs Way Short Break - East Section
  • South Downs Way Short Break - Central Section
  • This route includes dog friendly tour options South Downs Way Short Break - Circular

Dog friendly tours available

Dogs are welcome on select routes along this trail. Look for the pawprint icon when choosing your holiday.

About this route

4 to 6 nights
48 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £570 per person

South Downs Way - West Section

Less than an hour from London, the west section of the South Downs Way is a wholly inland walk along the chalk ridge of the South Downs escarpment.

From the historic city of Winchester, home to one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, the trail passes through a landscape brimming with Bronze Age and Celtic history, with stops in idyllic English villages.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
SDWW1 From Winchester to Amberley 4 nights, 3 days walking Moderate / Demanding £570
SDWW2 From Winchester to Amberley 5 nights, 4 days walking Moderate £710
SDWW3 From Winchester to Amberley 6 nights, 5 days walking Moderate £850

Short breaks

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
SDWSBE From Kingston-near-Lewes(T) to Eastbourne 3 nights, 2 days walking Moderate £425

South Downs Way - West Section 4 nights, 3 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather
  • Holiday Highlights

Important information

This tour is available to book all year, however out of season from October to March, there may be a small supplement for luggage moves, which will be moved by taxi rather than the usual luggage courier.

Start

Travel to Winchester where your first night's accommodation will be booked

Day 1

Winchester to Exton(L). 12 miles (19.5km) / 1129 ft (344 m) ascent

Day 2

Exton(L) to South Harting(L). 16 miles (25.5km) / 2021 ft (616 m) ascent

Day 3

South Harting(L) to Amberley. 19.5 miles (31km) / 2201 ft (671 m) ascent

Finish

Depart from Amberley after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation in most cases; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard if practical. A very limited number of stops will require you to travel on foot up to two miles off the trail, however these instances will be clearly communicated to you if applicable.

Further transfers may also be required due to some accommodations having a two-night minimum booking policy, especially at weekends.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£70.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£55.00 per person / per night


You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (South Harting(L))
£85.00 per person / per night
Standard
Interactive
© Contours Walking Holidays South Downs Way - West Section map
Winchester to Amberley
48 miles (76 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Setting off on a walking holiday well within reach of London.

Exploring sites steeped in history, such as Old Winchester Hill with its Iron Age hill fort.

Admiring the beautiful thatched cottages in Amberley.

What's included?

  • 4 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

If you would like to extend your holiday by taking an extra night, there are a number of locations for you to consider.
An extra night in Winchester could be an excellent start to your holiday. A walk up St Giles Hill offers spectacular views over the city, while a visit to Winchester Cathedral, one of Europe's largest cathedrals, offers an insight to a whole range of treasures, including Jane Austen's tomb and the Winchester Bible. For fans of Arthurian legend, the Great Hall of Winchester Castle features the round table, while a stroll through the city reveals Georgian buildings, Saxon streets and the gothic architecture of the Victorian Guildhall.

For somewhere a little quieter, the pretty village of Amberley is a good choice. The village is comprised of beautiful thatched cottages and is surrounded by the superb countryside of the Arun Valley. There is a museum and a castle that can be viewed from the outside, while just a few miles away lies the marvellous Arundel Castle, where you may wish to spend the day.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (South Harting(L))
£85.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 47.5 miles (76 km)
Duration: 4 nights, 3 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 12 miles (19.5 km)
Maximum daily distance: 19.5 miles (31 km)
Code: SDWW1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Winchester
End of holiday: Amberley

Route Profile

South Downs Way - West Section Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air

The most convenient major cities and international airports are Southampton, Bournemouth, London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

By Rail

There is a rail station at the start of the trail (Winchester) and also at the end of the trail (Amberley).

By Bus

Various bus services run to Winchester and from Amberley.

From London

Trains run from London Waterloo station to Winchester.

Return to Start

The easiest way to return to the start of the trail, is to take a taxi from Amberley to Winchester, as the train journey can be somewhat lengthy - check National Rail Enquiries for the time you wish to travel, as journey times vary.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.

Customer reviews from the South Downs Way - West Section

“Fabulous holiday despite the weather - many thanks.”
Dr Langdon, UK
“It was great, good time and good weather made it worthwhile.”
Mr Wheelock, UK
“Overall it is a good walking holiday. The walking is path is everywhere very well indicated, and the paths are well maintained. The accommodations are also of good level.”
Ms Creusot, Netherlands
“Contours really delivered a great service.”
Mr Mahon, UK
“My wife and I returned from our South Downs Way walk earlier this week. This is the second holiday we have had with you and, like the first, it was first class. Wish we had started with you a few years ago when we were a bit (lot) younger and could have tackled some of the more strenuous ones. The scenery on the South Downs was not as dramatic or spectacular as North Cornwall but it was very pleasant walking. The accommodation ranging from good to very good and the hosts were always welcoming and helpful.”
Mr Cowell, UK
“First time walking in the south of England, very enjoyable. Fully intend booking second half of SDW for next year.”
Mr Goodbody, UK
“The walk was excellent. The weather was kind to us. I would recommend the walking route.”
Mrs Whailin, UK
“We enjoyed it very much. We weren't quite sure what to expect, in terms of what the accommodation would be like, and how well the taxi transfer arrangements would work etc, but it was all as good or even better than we were hoping for. Would definitely recommend the holiday to others. We are thinking about next year already.”
Mr Sparrow, UK
“This was our 5th Contours holiday and was of the excellent standard we have come to expect from Contours.”
Mr McDonough, UK
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