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Posts Tagged ‘south downs’

Giving a warm but windy welcome to Britain’s newest National Park

Polegate to Southease, Sussex

On the South Downs Way

On the South Downs Way

The last time I visited the South Downs, the area was still only designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (I say ‘only’ but being an AONB is impressive in itself of course) and was yet to attain full National Park status. Although the creation of the South Downs National Park was announced in March 2009, and the Authority set up to administer affairs began interim operations in April 2010, it was only in April 2011 that the SDNPA became fully active as Planning Authority for the area. So it seemed appropriate to head back to the chalk hills and steep woodlands to celebrate the culmination of a campaign for National Park status that began in the 1920s. The stunning landscape is defined by the area’s geology: as in the North Downs but in a mirror image, the hills consist of a steep scarp slope facing north and a shallower (but still quite steep!) dip slope facing south towards the sea. In fact the South Downs are part of same geological system as the Chilterns and North Downs, the Weald-Artois anticline that also gives rise to the Weald. The dramatic topography results in steep climbs and stunning views which is why I return again and again. And, of course, for the social history: a plethora of prehistoric remains and some of the most beautiful churches to be found anywhere.

Start: Polegate Station TQ582047

Finish: Southease Station TQ430054

Length: 12¾ miles/6 hours

How to get there: Both stations are on Southern’s network. Polegate is between Lewes and Eastbourne and is around 90 minutes from London; Southease, on the Seaford branch, has an hourly service and requires a change from Lewes to return towards London.

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This one’s all about the views.

Goring-by-Sea to Amberley, Sussex

Which way now?

Which way now?

I’m very fond of the South Downs, as you may have noticed, given that I’ve written about walks in this area before. I’d been planning this one for a while, and on a September Saturday when I found I had nothing much else to do, made a last minute decision to head south and make the most of the late summer sunshine. The beautiful weather was essential to fully appreciate this walk – the fantastic views across southern England from so many points along the route would have been far less spectacular if visibility was reduced. There were some long climbs, and I must admit I was exhausted by the time I reached my destination, but, wow, was it worth it!

Start: Goring-by-Sea Station TQ105032

Finish: Amberley Station TQ026118

Length: 12 miles/5 hours

How to get there: Travelling with Southern again, Goring-by-Sea is on the West Coastway line that runs along the south coast between Brighton and Portsmouth/Southampton, and is also served by direct services from London Victoria, taking about 90 minutes. Amberley is on the delightful Arun Valley line that runs south from Horsham to join the West Coastway near Littlehampton & Bognor Regis; again, there are direct services from London. NB: There is another Goring station, in Oxfordshire, which is of no use if you wish to follow this walk, but it is in a beautiful part of the Thames Valley and the Chilterns so ending up there wouldn’t be completely disastrous. In fact, it’s an area I’m planning to visit soon enough.

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