Quality running can be found on the 100-mile (160 km) South Downs Way, where the terrain underfoot is mainly excellent.

The South Downs Way

The trail offers historic sites, expansive views and, at the finale, spectacular coastal scenery. A few steep hills are thrown in, to test the fitter runner.

Opt for the coastal alternative and you'll have to battle your way up the rolling hills of the Seven Sisters, the downfall of many a runner in the Beachy Head Marathon.

The gorgeous, postcard-perfect view is your reward for your labours. An irresistibly inspiring place at sunset.

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Map of The South Downs Way

Route facts

  • Length 100 miles (160 km)
  • Ascent 13507 ft (4117 m)
  • High point 817 ft (249 m)
  • Ascent per km 25.5 m
  • Start and Finish
  • Winchester/Eastbourne
  • Grade
  • Moderate to Extreme  
  • Season
  • 2nd January to 24th December

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  • The Seven Sisters on The South Downs Way

    Climbing the Seven Sisters.

  • Through the path near Firle Beacon

    Following the path near Firle Beacon.

  • Eastbourne pier

    Eastbourne pier.

Trail profile

South Downs Way Profile

Itineraries

3 nights
2 days running

Grade: Extreme

Winchester

84 km (52.5 miles) and 1988 m (6522 ft) ascent

Washington

76 km (47.5 miles) and 2119 m (6952 ft) ascent

Eastbourne

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Tour code: TSDW-1

Price £400 per person

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4 nights
3 days running

Grade: Strenuous

Winchester

55 km (34.5 miles) and 1322 m (4337 ft) ascent

Cocking

51 km (32 miles) and 1251 m (4104 ft) ascent

Pyecombe

54 km (34 miles) and 1534 m (5033 ft) ascent

Eastbourne

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Tour code: TSDW-2

Price £470 per person

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5 nights
4 days running

Grade: Challenging

Winchester

38 km (24 miles) and 845 m (2772 ft) ascent

Buriton

46 km (29 miles) and 1147 m (3763 ft) ascent

Washington

38 km (24 miles) and 1040 m (3412 ft) ascent

Kingston-near-Lewes

38 km (24 miles) and 1078 m (3537 ft) ascent

Eastbourne

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Tour code: TSDW-3

Price £545 per person

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6 nights
5 days running

Grade: Moderate

Winchester

27 km (17 miles) and 567 m (1860 ft) ascent

East Meon

29 km (18 miles) and 758 m (2487 ft) ascent

Cocking

34 km (21 miles) and 827 m (2713 ft) ascent

Steyning

33 km (20.5 miles) and 885 m (2904 ft) ascent

Kingston-near-Lewes

37 km (23 miles) and 1074 m (3524 ft) ascent

Eastbourne

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Tour code: TSDW-4

Price £575 per person

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Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are running on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:

  • Solo Runner Supplement: £45 per person / per night
  • Single Supplement: £35 per person / per night

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

  • Extra night (Standard): £60 per person / per night

The price you pay includes:

  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night, town plans, information about facilities and places of interest along the trail and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.
  • Emergency assistance.

Detailed travel information is sent to you on booking, but we have provided a summary below.

Air

The most convenient major cities and international airports are Southampton International and Bournemouth International Airport.

Rail

There is a railway station at the start of the trail (Winchester), which is located in the centre of the city, within walking distance of most accommodations. There is also a railway station at the end of the trail (Eastbourne), located near the centre of the village, a short walk from most accommodations.

From London – From Heathrow, you can take a bus from Heathrow Central Bus Station to Woking and travel onwards by train to Winchester. From Gatwick Airport, there are regular trains to Winchester. From Eastbourne, trains run regularly to both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.

Car

For advice on driving to the start of the trail, please visit www.theaa.com which has a very useful route planner.

Returning to the start

The easiest way to return to the start of the trail (Winchester) is by train. There is a fast and frequent rail service between Eastbourne and Winchester.
Choosing to add an extra night or two into your trail running holiday allows you more time to explore the various destinations that the magnificent South Downs Way visits on its race to the coastline; whatever your tastes, there is a location guaranteed to satisfy your needs.

An extra night’s stay in Winchester could make 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.

Steyning would be a good choice as well, as this pretty Sussex town is well stocked with all of the usual amenities while still retaining its historic charm from as far back as the Middle Ages. There are plenty of shops to browse here, including lots of independent retailers, as well as a number of fascinating attractions such as Steyning Museum and St Andrew’s Church, with its interesting Norman carvings and other treasures on show.

The charming village of Kingston-near-Lewes is another good place to spend a rest day. With its friendly pub and 13th century church, this village is the perfect place to relax and soak up the calm atmosphere. Those seeking something more lively however can visit the county town of Lewes less than two miles away, which is packed with things to see and do. Explore the nearby castle and ruined priory, or browse the variety of restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops, including Intersport of Lewes that sells sports equipment, just in case you need to replenish or replace any of your kit.

If you would like to spend some more time exploring at the end of your holiday, consider Eastbourne for an extra night. With spectacular views from Beachy Head and a host of historic locations such as Redoubt Fortress, as well as shops, parks, gardens, restaurants, museums and galleries, there is plenty to serve as reward after completing your run. The Sussex Spa at the Grand Hotel also offers a range of wellness facilities to help with your recovery, including swimming pools, a gym, a whirlpool spa, a sauna and steam room and a choice of spa treatments and massages to ease tired muscles.

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