Home General info FAQ SDW SECTIONS 1. Winchester 1 / 2 Meon Valley 2. Warnford 3. QEP 4. Harting 5. Cocking 6. Bignor 7. Amberley 8. Washington 9. Devils Dyke 10. Southease Westwards Water Taps Profile All Where to stay Food, equipment Visitors Rides Video SDW Panorama photos Aerial photo map Distances SDW Double Alternative routes Circular rides Links Things of Interest Updates Contact me


General information

Planning trip

see following useful links

general http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/text.asp?PageId=74

trail news eg closures, events etc http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/news.asp?PageId=3

faq http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/faq.asp?PageId=75

code of conduct http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/text.asp?PageId=77

leaflet, has distances etc http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/uploads/SDW_MBG_122009.pdf

public transport trains and bus: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/uploads/Nat Eng NT Transport 2008_3.pdf

Following site has useful info on timings, distances, GPS data: http://www.southdownsdouble.net/routeinfo.html

Thanks to Graham D for his aerial map


Thanks to Graham D for this summary, of very useful advice which I commend.

Some general comments I would leave for other visitors are:

1) PASSING. As a long time mountain biker I am used to passing people and animals off road, but for road cyclists and novices attempting the route I think maybe some information on passing etiquette might be useful. People I talk to seem to be becoming more critical of 'silent ghosts' passing them which they don't like. I would therefore include the advice that:
COWS - give space where possible, avoid going near young. In close proximity pass slowly and calmly when nearby, avoiding making noise and sudden movements. Cows generally tend not to move out the way.
SHEEP - are scared of bikes and will almost always get out of the way. Be wary of sudden changes of direction.
WALKERS - I shout 'rider' if I'm coming up behind about 10 seconds or 40 meters away (depends on speed). Obviously judge this but it gives people time to jump, invariably stop, gather up dogs etc. I then thank them and normally have a quick natter as I pass. I slow down a bit too, but not that much, this depends on room available however.
HORSES - again a warning shout of 'rider' is appreciated and so is stopping, I stop to a dead stop especially if space is restricted. All horse riders appreciate this I think and have told me so.
Generally I would advise cyclists not to be afraid to shout!

Profile, height climbed

Many people do not also realise that over the 100 miles, the total of the ascents is approximately 3,555 metres or 11,660 feet, that's over '3X' three times higher than Snowdon (3560) from sea-level! Below is a profile from west to east. The two dips to 'sea-level' are at River Arun, Amberley and the River Adur. See 'Profile' page for more detail.

Section Climb Descend
  metres metres
1 331 313
2 357 302
3 285 206
4 249 343
5 321 220
6 82 275
7 258 163
8 477 380
Total 2360 2202

Now added to Eastbourne.

Devils Dyke to Eastbourne 1195 1394
Total 3555 3596

So Winchester must be 41 m above sea level !

Highest point on SDW is Ditchling Beacon (248m) , though Butser Hill (270m) is highest point on South Downs, but SDW does not quite go over summit.

SDW Route

Below, I have tried to show the outline (reddish line) of the route to give an indication of whereabouts it is. It starts outside Winchester, and extends eastwards to Eastbourne.

I have cycled all of SDW except a few miles between Devils Dyke and Ditchlng. Note 'elevation profiles' now added for whole of SDW.



Do you need a map? I like to take a map so I know where I am ! also if take wrong turning. Recently, eg at Gander Down (just east of Cheesffot Head, nr Winchester) group of cyclists and group of walkers did not do the 'dog-leg' in the field'.

Harvey's map covers whole of SDW.

I have put digital route on Tracklogs website rides.

Ordnance Survey Maps: Explorer series 1:25,000, 4 cm: 1km, or approx. 2 1/2 inches: 1 mile.

Nr.132: sections 1 & 2;

Nr. 133: section 2 (there is only a very short easy stretch on this map, so not essential)

Nr. 120: sections 2 to 5;

Nr. 121: sections 5 to 8.

Nr. 122: section 8.


Where does it start?


The following is extract from the 'nationtrail' website as above.

'At Winchester the terminus is the City Mill, perched over the River Itchen at the boundary of the old city. However for most purposes the statue of King Alfred makes a better landmark and photo opportunity. It's about 100m further west at the bottom of Broadway. Broadway is the eastern and downhill end of Winchester's main street, and is also where the Tourist Information Centre and bus station are located.

At Eastbourne the footpath terminus is at the end of the promenade road, where the footpath to Beachy Head leaves the tarmac. The promenade (seafront) road is called "King Edwards Parade" (the B2103) - it becomes Dukes Drive at the sharp bend where the SDW leaves the road. There is a seasonal cafe and very small (usually full) car park at the start/end point of the Trail. To get there from the town centre (bus and railways station etc) just head to the seafront, turn right (west) and keep walking along the road. The SDW starts after about a mile. The bridleway route ends at Paradise Drive.'


I have received several queries re parking in Winchester. The following is advice from Winchester Council:

"Thank you for your query regarding long term parking in Winchester close to the South Downs Way. Although our long stay pay and display car parks are a maximum stay of 24 hours, we can make an exceptions providing we are made aware of the vehicle registration number, colour and make, and which car park you will be used so we can pass the details onto the Enforcement Team so they are aware there will be a vehicle parked for longer than 24 hours. The best car park to use for people participating in the South Downs Way is Chesil Street multi storey car park, which is the closest.

I would recommend that when parking in this way, payment is made using the Pay by Phone system. You can register online at www.paybyphone.co.uk or by phoning 01962 433433 and following the instructions. This system allows you to park for more than 24 hours and you can also renew your parking should you need to. "

Which direction? eastwards or westwards?

Generally, as prevailing wind is westwards, better to travel eastwards. I have now added a page re traveling westwards. See below.



There lots and lots of gates to open, go through and shut behind you! See Section Info page; from memory and map, think about 80 gates between Winchester and Eastbourne

Car parks

CAR PARKS: There are photos of some in the various Sections. Please email if you find now 'PAY'; also send info re other car parks.

Cheesefoot Head, (2mile east of Winchester), FREE; Old Winchester Hill FREE; Butser think FREE; QEP PAY; Buriton FREE (height restrictor), Harting PAY £2 (meter now), Cocking FREE; Bignor FREE, Chantry Post FREE, Washington FREE, Devils Dyke PAY £2; Ditchling PAY £2; Alfriston 4hrs £2, all day £4.

Below is a link to a map on Google 'my maps' that I have created showing location of car parks. They are approximate due lack of detail of map, so consult OS map for better placing. Hope helpful any how.


BENCHES TO SIT ON: Near HMS Mercury looking to East Meon, (photo); near Buriton Hill (photo); Harting Down; tree trunks Didling.

Link below to 'My Google Map' of location of benches (also shows water taps).




see 'pubs & where to stay' etc pages

Milberry, (Section 1)

Royal Oak, Hooksway, (just south of SDW near Beacon Hill, Harting.)