Index of Posts on Walking the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne
How long did it take me to walk the South Downs Way? – 10 days (but this could be easily shortened)
How fit do you have to be to walk the South Downs Way? – I would say I am of above slightly average fitness for my age (59 year old female). However, despite me moaning at times about the hills it was not too difficult and, of course, I took my time. With a little training anyone of average fitness could manage it.
Is it easy to find accommodation along the South Downs Way?
Yes, there is plenty of accommodation but it is all off-route, so you have to be prepared for a climb up to the ridge each morning. The South Downs Way National Trail site gives details and Google as always is useful.
Afterthoughts: Traditionally the South Downs Way was walked East to West (I walked West to East as I always like the prevailing wind behind me and in the South of England the sea on my right). It was originally 70 miles long and extended to Winchester in 1981. If short of time I would definitely just walk the original seventy mile route – it is a treat not to be missed. I had T to help with lifts as public transport links are variable. I would recommend Antony Linick’s blog if considering walking it in daily sections travelling down from London. The guidebook I used was Jim Manthorpe’s “South Downs Way” – this is very detailed with hand-drawn maps and full of useful information. I also carried with me “The A to Z South Downs Adventure” – but found that I did not need to refer to it often. Being a National Trail all the route is well way-marked. The South Downs Way website was also very useful.
I believe that I have average fitness and although I had had some concerns over the hills I managed well. Some of my shorter days could quite easily have been combined. Accommodation is fairly easy to obtain along the way (although quite expensive unless you can get the Youth Hostel’s locations to coincide with the end of the day’s walking). By searching through links on the web I found a useful guide to camping and hostels along the South Downs Way. When planning the timescale I also had to take into account the time it would take to get up and down from the Downs into the nearby villages and towns for accommodation. This often added quite a bit on to the start of the day.
Sections of the Way are quite busy and if you prefer solitary walking (as I do!), then perhaps weekends would be better avoided. I needed another adventure after my trek along The Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury last year and this fitted the bill well. What next? The Camino??
My book “The Woman Who Walked Through Fear” detailing my adventures on my pilgrimage along the old Way from Winchester to Canterbury will be published by Sitting Duck Press shortly.