Escape to the South Downs

England’s newest National Park
Combine leisurely walks through the rolling chalk landscapes of England’s newest National Park with stays at welcoming country inns and visits to ancient sites, pretty villages and Kingley Vale, a National Nature Reserve. This self-guided walking holiday includes luggage transfers.
Escape to the South Downs. 4 nights
Escape to the South Downs. 4 nights

Holiday information


A walking holiday in the South Downs

Rudyard Kipling described the landscape in this delightfully rural corner of southern England as “blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed downs”; and the rolling, elevated chalk grassland of the South Downs – offering expansive views and a far-reaching history – makes for exhilarating walking country.
The smooth and undulating countryside of the South Downs is said to have inspired William Blake’s immortal phrase, ‘this green and pleasant land’, and there can be no doubt that Blake would still recognise the landscapes our routes explore today: magical, Tolkien-esque yew groves; cosy villages with traditional pubs; high ridges with panoramic views; and grassland that is home to myriad wildflowers and butterflies. Also defining the landscape are an impressive number of ancient sites – from Iron Age hillforts to the 11th-century cathedral in Chichester, which you can visit on your final day – as well as slightly more recent additions: the beautiful and unusual West Dean Gardens and the highly praised Weald & Downland Living Museum. Your accommodation, two traditional but well-heeled hostelries providing excellent food, is another highlight of this short but satisfying break.



The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on almost any day of the week, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    You should always be prepared for wet weather, whichever month you are travelling.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 8 8 11 14 17 20 22 20 20 15 11 8
    mm 65 48 47 51 48 45 49 47 43 70 65 67
  • Arrival in Chilgrove
    Night 1: at the White Horse Inn (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Circular route from Chilgrove: 12.5km (8 miles), 4hrs; ascent/descent 290m
    Today’s walk to Beacon Hill is a favourite of ours, with enough – but not too much – of a challenge. From Beacon Hill, on a fine day, views extend from the Weald in the north to the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. There’s also an Iron Age hillfort here (archaeological evidence suggests that the down was first occupied around 3000 BC), as well as a former telegraph station. This was a link in the shutter telegraph chain (1796-1816) which connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships docked in Portsmouth and Plymouth. After being replaced by a semaphore station, ‘Telegraph House’ was the home of the famous Beacon Hill School run by the renowned philosopher, Bertrand Russell. Also featuring on today’s walk are the Devil’s Jumps – Bronze Age burial mounds whose name owes much to local legend.
    Circular route from Chilgrove: 12.5km
    Beacon Hill
  • Chilgrove to East Lavant: 12.5km (8 miles), 4hrs; 240m ascent/280m descent
    You begin with a steady uphill section, but then are rewarded with a descent through Kingley Vale, a National Nature Reserve and the highlight of today’s walk. You arrive along a wooded ridge intersecting with the top of this horseshoe-shaped dry valley, where first you encounter several Bronze Age burial mounds or ‘barrows’ known as the ‘Devil’s Humps’ (not to be confused with the Devil's Jumps that feature on the Beacon Hill circuit), before descending through some magical, Tolkien-esque yew groves that boast curiously shaped specimens over 500 years old. Picking up the West Sussex Literary Trail, you eventually reach the attractive village of East Lavant, where your final two nights are spent at the Royal Oak Inn.
    Chilgrove to East Lavant: 12.5km
    'Devil's Humps'
  • Choice of routes from East Lavant: 12.5-18.5km (7.5-11.5 miles)

    Circular route via West Dean Gardens and The Weald & Downland Living Museum: 12.5km (7.5 miles), 4hrs; 210m ascent/descent
    This circuit takes you along the picturesque Lavant Valley to West Dean village, then passes the eponymous gardens and The Weald & Downland Living Museum (where The Repair Shop is filmed) before ascending St Roche’s Hill to The Trundle – an Iron Age hillfort overlooking Goodwood racecourse. You finish with a descent along Chalkpit Lane with views over Chichester Harbour. If you would prefer to linger longer at either the beautiful and unusual West Dean Gardens or the outdoor museum of rural life – or even both – you can use the bus to reduce the walking and make the most of these highly recommended sites.

    Halnaker to East Lavant, starting by taxi: 18.5km (11.5 miles), 6hrs; 350m ascent/360m descent
    This longer route through rolling countryside begins with a taxi transfer to nearby Halnaker (pay locally). Walk through a splendid ‘tunnel of trees’ and up to Halnaker Windmill (a Sussex landmark) before continuing along the line of a Roman road then descending to three pretty hamlets alongside the River Lavant to reach Singleton. The final part of your route is the same as the first option, taking in St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle before descending with views towards the English Channel. You can shorten this walk to 13km (8 miles) by taking the bus to Lavant from Singleton.

    Explore Chichester
    Alternatively, catch a bus from Lavant to nearby Chichester. This compact cathedral city is charming to explore on foot, and a particularly interesting perspective can be gained from the Roman walls. Constructed in the 3rd century AD, these are the best-preserved ancient defensive walls in the south of England, and walking along them you will enjoy fine views across Chichester’s historic centre and to iconic sights such as the impressive cathedral, 16th-century Market Cross and legendary Priory Park cricket ground.
    Halnaker Windmill on the route around East Lavant (18.5km option)
    Via West Dean Gardens and the outdoor museum: 12.5km
    Halnaker to East Lavant: 18.5km


You stay at two high-quality inns – or ‘dining pubs’ – of character, each of which places emphasis on good food sourced from fresh, local produce.

Extend your stay

Prices & travel options
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  • 4 nights: 01 March 2024 - 31 October 2024

    Start Monday-Wednesday | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 31 Mar 2024 £560 £290
    1 - 25 Apr 2024 £605 £345
    26 Apr - 30 Sep 2024 £635 £335
    1 - 27 Oct 2024 £595 £330
    1 - 31 Mar 2025 £585 £305
    1 - 25 Apr 2025 £630 £360
    26 Apr - 30 Sep 2025 £665 £350
    1 - 27 Oct 2025 £620 £345
    3rd & 4th person discount -£40 to -£42
    Single traveller supplement £40 to £42
    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, and any connecting travel detailed below.

    Easter & other bank holidays: supplements apply over the Easter weekend, as well as the May Day, Whitsun and late summer bank holiday weekends; please contact us for details

    Included travel: transfer East Lavant-Chilgrove to collect car

    Please note: dogs are not permitted on Inntravel holidays

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    White Horse Inn, Chilgrove
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2024 £18
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2025 £19
    Royal Oak Inn, East Lavant
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2024 £16
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2024 £17
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2025 £17
    'Feature': 01 Mar - 31 Oct 2025 £18

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Royal Oak Inn, East Lavant (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Mar - 31 Mar 2024 £90 £180
    01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £102 £204
    01 Mar - 31 Mar 2025 £94 £188
    01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £106 £212
    # Easter & other bank holidays: supplements apply over the Easter weekend, as well as the May Day, Whitsun and late summer bank holiday weekends; please contact us for details
  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Where a price range is given, the price you pay depends on your date of travel.

    Connecting travel options - via Chichester Station

    Outward route Price per person Latest
    arrival time
    taxi Chichester station to hotel (0h20) included flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Chichester station (0h15) included flexible
What is included
  • 4 nights
  • 2 picnics
    4 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
  • taxi between first and last hotels (if driving)

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >



If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from A to B, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • Yes, prior to going on holiday you will be able to download GPX tracks so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you use them – our detailed, step-by-step route notes remain the principal means of guiding you from A to B – but we provide them as a secondary means of navigation for additional reassurance when walking.
  • Yes, absolutely. Over the years, we have arranged a great many holidays in the UK for customers living in the USA, Canada, Australia and beyond.

    If you've never travelled with us before, it's worth reading the web pages which explain how we can cater for customers who live outside the UK. The main thing to bear in mind is that our tour operator's licence doesn't allow us to book flights that originate outside the UK, and nor are we able to book rail travel in the UK, so we can't make travel arrangements for you, other than pre-arranging taxis between the local railway station and the accommodation – see the ‘prices & travel’ section for the options available.

    For practical information about travelling to the UK, see the 'what do I need to know about travelling to England, Scotland and Wales?' question.
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
  • Unfortunately not. The Inntravel team includes many dog owners, but the extra considerations – such as whether taxi firms accept dogs for transfers to the start of walks, whether routes cross private land on which dogs are not allowed, and proximity to a vet’s – would add another layer of complexity to what are already quite complex holidays.
  • As a minimum, you will need a passport to enter the UK; requirements vary according to your nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. You’ll need to check requirements on the website of your own country’s government or that of the British government. Our essential travel information page provides links to websites where you can find out about the applicable requirements, along with general official travel advice.
    English is the most widely spoken of several official languages; in Wales, for example, Welsh has equal status. The currency is the British pound (Scotland issues its own bank notes, but Bank of England notes can be used in Scotland and vice versa). The UK follows Greenwich Mean Time during autumn and winter, but switches to British Summer Time (GMT + 1) from late March until late October.
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