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South Downs Ways

From chalk uplands towards the English Channel
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, hill-top forts and Petworth – a renowned antiques centre. This self-guided walking holiday includes luggage transfers.

Holiday information


A walking holiday in the South Downs

Humans have been walking the ridgeline of the South Downs for centuries, all taking in the views that found Virginia Woolf “overcome by beauty more extravagantly than one could expect.” Characterised by rolling chalk grassland, and presenting an enticing tableau of arable farmland, shady woodland and vineyards, inlaid with a network of quiet country lanes and walking trails – all within the protective embrace of England’s newest National Park – our chosen portion of West Sussex makes for exhilarating walking country.
One highlight is an ancient ridgeway, which today has acquired the status of a National Trail, ‘The South Downs Way’. Indeed, a feature of this holiday is the borrowing of sections from this and other long-distance paths, such as ‘The Serpent Trail’, ‘The West Sussex Literary Trail’ and ‘The Monarch’s Way’. Add to this a trio of fine country inns offering good service and locally sourced food – as well a smattering of historic sites, ancient yew groves, manicured gardens and even a famous racecourse – and you have all the ingredients for a very enjoyable few days away.


We are currently unable to take new bookings for this holiday, but hope to be able to do so again soon.


The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, 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 Petworth
    Night 1: at Welldiggers Arms (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 Petworth: 7.5km (5 miles), 2.5hrs; 170m ascent/descent
    Your first day’s walk is relatively short and easy-going, so makes a good ‘loosener’. It heads through woodland and rolling countryside via a section of the Serpent Trail into the ancient hill-top market town of Petworth, known as the ‘Antiques Centre of the South’ and home to a superb summer music festival ( After browsing the town’s curio-filled boutiques, you can explore the deer park surrounding Petworth House, an impressive 17th-century National Trust property whose gardens and parkland were landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. (Admission is free for National Trust members; otherwise an admission fee applies to visit the house, while the park may be explored free of charge.) To return, you can walk the couple of miles cross-country via the hamlet of Byworth; or take a bus, alighting right outside your accommodation.
    Circular route from Petworth: 7.5km
    Walking route around Petworth
  • Petworth to Chilgrove: 15.5km (10 miles), 5.5hrs; 350m ascent/400m descent
    The day begins with a short transfer – a ‘leg-up’ to a viewpoint near the top of Duncton Hill – meaning you are now on the escarpment itself, within a landscape described by Kipling as “blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed downs”. Follow the ancient ridgeway – The South Downs Way – westward, drinking in the far-reaching views before descending through woodland, keeping an eye out for the weathered, spherical Chalk Stones, devised by environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy. Your destination is the White Horse Inn in Chilgrove, where you spend two nights.
    Petworth to Chilgrove: 15.5km
    Countryside views on the route from Petworth to Chilgrove
  • Circular route from Chilgrove: 12.5km (7.5 miles), 4hrs; 290m ascent/descent
    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 on the route around Chilgrove
  • 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 some 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, ancient yew groves boasting some 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' on the route from Chilgrove to East Lavant
  • Free day in East Lavant

    Circular route via Goodwood: 8.5km (5.5 miles), 3hrs; 185m ascent/descent
    This five-mile circuit takes you along the West Sussex Literary Trail before climbing St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle – an Iron Age hillfort overlooking Goodwood racecourse – then dropping back down Chalkpit Lane with views over Chichester Harbour.

    Halnaker to East Lavant, starting by taxi: 18.5km (11.5 miles), 6hrs; 350m ascent/360m descent
    We recommend this longer route through rolling countryside, beginning with a taxi transfer to Halnaker (pay locally). Walk through a splendid ‘tunnel of trees’ to Halnaker Windmill (a Sussex landmark), before continuing along the line of a Roman road and dropping to three pretty hamlets alongside the River Lavant. The final part of your route is the same as the shorter option above, taking in St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle before descending with views towards the English Channel.

    Visit West Dean Gardens, then walk back: 7.5km (4.5 miles), 2.5hrs; 175m ascent/190m descent
    Following a short stroll to Mid Lavant, catch a bus to visit the beautiful and unusual West Dean Gardens (or book a taxi to take you directly there). We then suggest a walk back via St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle hillfort (as above), before steadily dropping back down to East Lavant and your accommodation.

    Visit The Weald & Downland Living Museum, then walk back: 6km (3.5 miles), 2hrs; 150m ascent/175m descent
    Take a short stroll to Mid Lavant before catching a bus to visit the outdoor Weald & Downland Living Museum of rural life (or take a taxi). After your visit, walk back via the hamlet of Singleton, then climb to St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle before steadily dropping back down to East Lavant.

    Explore Chichester
    Take a bus or taxi (or walk the 3 miles) to the delightful small city of Chichester, where there is plenty of history, especially Roman (including a modern museum); and a compact, historic centre within the city walls, with an ancient market cross and 11th-century cathedral. You can also stroll to the newly renovated canal basin and wharf.   
    Halnaker Windmill on the route around East Lavant (18.5km option)
    Circular route via Goodwood: 8.5km
    Visit West Dean Gardens, then walk back: 7.5km
    Halnaker to East Lavant, starting by taxi: 18.5km
    Visit The Weald and Downland Living Museum, then walk back: 6km


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

Options to extend or shorten your stay

Prices & travel options
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  • 6 nights: 01 April 2021 - 31 October 2021

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 30 Apr 2021 £530 £375
    1 - 27 May 2021 £550 £395
    28 May - 31 Aug 2021 £595 £445
    1 - 30 Sep 2021 £550 £395
    1 - 25 Oct 2021 £530 £375
    3rd & 4th person discount -£30
    Single traveller supplement £30

    Please note: dogs are not permitted on Inntravel holidays

    Included travel: transfer East Lavant-Petworth to collect car OR from Pulborough railway station / to Chichester railway station

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Welldiggers Arms, Petworth
    'Indulgent': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2021 £8
    'View': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2021 £14
    White Horse Inn, Chilgrove
    'Feature': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2021 £8
    Royal Oak Inn, East Lavant
    'Feature': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2021 £8
    'Indulgent': 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2021 £8

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

    White Horse Inn, Chilgrove (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 31 May 2021 £48 £96
    01 Jun - 31 Aug 2021 £58 £116
    01 Sep - 31 Oct 2021 £48 £96
  • 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.

    Connecting travel options - out via Pulborough, home via Chichester

    Outward route Price per person Latest train
    arrival time
    taxi Pulborough station to hotel (0h15) included flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest train
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Chichester station (0h15) included flexible
What is included
  • 6 nights
  • 3 picnics
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • transfer on day 2
  • taxi to/from local railway stations or to collect car

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 sincerely hope that your holiday experience will be as enjoyable as it would have been before the pandemic – walking holidays are ideal in these times of social distancing, and we’re not operating holidays if the key highlights can no longer be delivered – but, naturally, there will be some changes to ensure your and other people’s safety.
    Your holiday experience: what to expect >
    Safety measures being taken by hoteliers & others >
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, 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, absolutely. Over the years, we have arranged a great many walking 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 options’ section for the options available.

    As regards entry requirements, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. Our essential travel information page provides links to websites where you can find out about the applicable requirements, along with general official travel advice.
  • 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 cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to take out our recommended travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for residents of the UK and Europe, but not Switzerland), 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.

    We'll ask you for the details of your policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • 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.
Last fetch time is : 12/2/2020 3:09:35 PM