Itinerary: South Downs Saunter

South Downs Saunter

Poets and writers such as Rudyard Kipling and Hilaire Belloc have been captivated by the green hills and the gentle beauty of the South Downs and the Sussex Weald. Meander east from Winchester, criss-cross the glorious South Downs landscape into the lush Wealden countryside, spend time in Chichester, Arundel and Petworth, tour a vineyard, stroll the South Downs Way and visit National Trust treasures.

The Itinerary

Day 1

Winchester (Cathedral tour; guided tour of Winchester College; water meadows stroll; St Cross Abbey; Great Hall). Back lanes through the glorious Itchen Valley to Alresford (independent shops & cafes), Tichborne and Cheriton. STAY – The Thomas Lord, West Meon, Hampshire (from £80).

Day 2

Time to explore Alresford and enjoy a ride of the Mid-Hants Steam Railway (Watercress Line) to Alton and back. Heading back to the Meon Valley, perhaps visit Hinton Ampner Garden (National Trust) before a stroll through the nature reserve at the top of Old Winchester Hill (fine views). Travel north for Jane Austen’s House, Chawton. STAY – Anchor Inn, Lower Froyle, Hampshire (from £110).

Day 3

Head south to Selborne to visit naturalist Gilbert White's Museum and walk up to the ‘Hangers’ from the village. Continue to the South Downs; stroll across Harting Down (South Downs Way & views); visit Uppark House (NT), a fine Queen Anne Mansion, or the impressive Weald & Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. STAY – Crab & Lobster, Sidlesham, West Sussex (from £165).

Day 4

Stroll around Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve; paddle in the sea at West Wittering; or head into Chichester (cathedral; city walk). Book a tour of Tinwood Vineyard or Langham Brewery, go antique hunting in Petworth, visit magnificent Petworth House and deer park (NT); or explore Bignor Roman Villa. STAY - White Horse, Sutton, West Sussex (from £130).

Day 5

Don your boots and tackle the South Downs circular walk from the White Horse, or visit Arundel (castle & Wildfowl & Wetland Trust). Or, continue east towards Brighton, enjoy a downland stroll at Devil's Dyke, then head north for a trip on the scenic Bluebell Steam Railway. Don't miss Sheffield Park Garden (NT) in autumn. STAY – Griffin Inn, Fletching, East Sussex (from £90).

Day 6

Visit Lewes (castle; Harvey’s Brewery Tour); don't miss Charleston Farmhouse (Bloomsbury set) and Berwick Church (paintings). Stop at Alfriston (picture-postcard village with Clergy House (NT)); enjoy space and fresh air at the Seven Sisters Country Park (South Downs Way - River Cuckmere and stunning cliff walk). STAY - The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex (from £100).

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