South Downs Way

This Quest is to visit waypoints on the South Downs Way. The route stretches 106 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne. It is the most walked of Britain's National/Great Trails. This is not to say that it is the best regarded. It lacks the interest of the Thames Path, the drama of the Pennine Way and the physical challenge of Offa's Dyke Path, although it is lovely and quite spectacular in parts. We suspect its popularity has more to do with its proximity to London than to any attractions of the trail.

The South Downs is entirely rolling chalk hills which makes for comfortable mud-free walking, even in the depths of winter. SDW is one of the southernmost of the National Trails, and therefore most likely to get good weather. It is the only National Trail that lies entirely within a National Park. On the positive side, this means very little traffic and no built-up areas. On the negative side, fresh food and home comforts are thin on the ground.

The most popular natural highlights are Devil's Dyke and the Seven Sisters (above). Spectacular as they are, they draw tourists like magnates. Walking enthusiasts might prefer the ridge crests that need to be climbed every few miles along the Way. We selected the best of these - Butser Hill, the highest point in the South Downs at 890ft, Edgerton Hill, Ditchling Beacon and Firle Beacon - as Quest Points. The most popular man-made features are Jack and Jill (windmills), and the churches. Again, we picked the best of them as Quest Points. The most famous man-made attraction on the walk is Clergy House in Alfriston. It is not terribly interesting in itself, but it happens to be the National Trust's first ever acquisition. Thankfully, they have become rather more aspirational since.

Your reward for visiting all 34 Quest Points is the title South Downs Way Conqueror. There is an intermediate rank of Hiker for visiting 17 Quest Points.