South Downs Way
The South Downs Way National Trail follows the chalk ridge of the south downs from Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, to the historic cathedral in the city of Winchester.
At the eastern end of the path, there are two alternative routes between Eastbourne and the village of Alfriston; one via the coast and one inland. To make it one continuous walk, I started at Alfriston and took the inland path to Eastbourne and then the coastal route back. As the path works its way west, it also gradually heads further inland.
The majority of the walk follows the exposed top of the chalk ridge, with many magnificent views over the surrounding settlements and countryside, especially to the north over the relatively flat inland areas of Sussex and Hampshire. Along the ridge, particularly at the highest points, are numerous tumuli -- round neolithic burial mounds dating back between 2,500 and 4,000 years.
In a number of places along the downs, one can also find dew ponds -- hollowed out of the porous chalk and lined with clay to allow them to hold rainwater for livestock before water was piped up to farms on the downs. Most are now dried out, but a couple have been restored.
There are regular descents and ascents along the path, as the Way crosses several wide valleys which have been carved through the downs over millennia by small rivers. It is generally in these valleys that the walk passes through towns and villages and meets up with public transport.