NCBA Out & About: A Hike Along England’s South Downs Way

jon-sdw-1By Jonathan Maxwell

There are few better opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation than a long walk.  English national trails take it to a new level.

In the bracing air along the Seven Sisters, the prominent chalk cliffs overseeing the English Channel, I encounter a fellow hiker who recommends a 13th-century inn in Alfriston as a perfect first night‘s stay. Laterin the gloaming along the Cuckmere River, a gentleman farmer pauses while working in his field to point out a distant steeple, advising that if I stick to the river path I will be in Alfriston ere long.

Of the English walks officially designated as “national trails,” one of the most historic and varied is but a 50-mile train ride south of London. Beginning in Eastbourne on the English Channel, the South Downs Way wends westward one hundred miles through a national park – along coastal cliffs, inland atop an escarpment, and through the woods, to Winchester. (See I cannot resist taking six days to walk it solo.

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