Join us for the Experience of a Lifetime
and support the charity of your choice

UK

25 miles for 25 years - South Downs Trek

Activity
Trek
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 3

About the challenge

Celebrate 25 years of Albion in the Community's work and trek the South Downs!  

Join us on this great adventure to celebrate 25 years of Albion in the Community’s work for people across Sussex as we trek across the beautiful South Downs.

This trek starts in the historic town of Lewes, heading eastbound along the scenic South Downs Way. We walk over rolling hills and high ridges dotted with ancient earthworks, often accompanied by magnificent vistas down to the sea. We tackle stiff climbs and descents before our spectacular final stretch over the famous white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. This is a tough event over rolling downs and cliffs; at 25 miles, it forms a tough challenge. To register, just go to the 'Dates and Prices' section below.

 

The itinerary

Itinerary

Our challenging day starts from the market town of Lewes, an old Roman settlement with a castle dating back to Saxon times and re-built after the Norman invasion. We set off early in the morning – essential for completing the distance – from Lewes Castle, and head southwest towards the downs. It’s not long before we’re climbing uphill, with some steep sections in the first few miles. Walking along a ridge with wonderful views inland to the downs and south to the coast, we skirt the pretty village of Rodmell, descending to cross the River Ouse.

It’s not long before we climb up high again, steeply at first and then more gradually to Beddingham Hill and its twin radio masts. The land drops away steeply inland to form deep combes; the views are very picturesque and you can soak them up as you stop to catch your breath! Inland, the downs are dotted with occasional farms and small villages, in contrast to the more built-up coastal belt to our south.  

Our route now contours along a beautiful ridge, with impressive views in all directions. It’s not long before we climb a little higher to reach our halfway mark, and the highest point of our day, at Firle Beacon (217m). Firle Beacon is a Marilyn – the term given to a hill which is 150m higher than its surroundings, regardless of actual height – and is one of only 11 in the southeast.  This is a great point for a rest and a snack before we head downhill via the ancient, well-preserved Long Burgh long barrow to the small village of Alfriston. Alfriston is very pretty, with lots of authentic timbered buildings, and attracts many tourists. We walk through the village, crossing and then following Cuckmere River as it winds its way to the coast. This is our first flat section of any length! The riverside scenery is very different and we will feel refreshed for the change, and the respite to our leg muscles! 

We come to the Seven Sisters Country Park, where our shorter walk starts, providing an achievable family-friendly challenge. From here our route heads to Cuckmere Haven, where the river meets the English Channel. A common film location with its backdrop of white chalk cliffs, its beach is often used to depict Dover. Second World War pillboxes and other remains show its role in the country’s defence.  From here, we take the South Downs Way over the Seven Sisters, a series of rolling chalk cliffs – the most well-known section of our day, and arguably the most spectacular. Some of the ascents and descents before us are steep and arduous, others more gradual, but with every climb our destination grows nearer and it’s not long before we can see it in the distance. The views over the sea are wonderful on a clear day and will encourage you to keep going!

Dipping right down to the abandoned National Trust hamlet of Birling Gap, with its nineteenth-century fishermen’s cottages clustered perilously close to the eroding cliffs, we climb again. We pass Belle Tout lighthouse and then make a last uphill effort to the top of Beachy Head. We’ve made it, and earned a powerful sense of achievement that will never leave us!   We have time to celebrate with our fellow participants and enjoy the views before returning home.

Total distance: 25 miles

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

Detailed information

What's Included

- Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support staff throughout to manage the event safely and enjoyably.
- Marshalling stops with water and snacks
- Packed lunch
- Transfer to the start at Lewes 

What's Excluded

- Personal insurance (optional)
- Any parking fees or transport costs
- Accommodation if required
- Car parking charges

Approx. £50 is recommended for personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.  
A coach transfer will take us from Beachy Head – where you can park – to the start in Lewes. There are good rail links to both Lewes and Eastbourne if you prefer to travel by train.

Walking Information

Our treks are graded from 1 (Moderate) to 5 (Extreme). This trek is Grade 3. We trek mainly on grass or gravel paths but there are some small tarmac roads and at least one main road crossing. Some sections may be muddy. There are many hills of varying length and gradient, and little true flat terrain.

Groups may set off at staggered intervals (depending on numbers) but you can go at your own pace. The 25-mile walk should take approximately 8-10 hours for fit and strong walkers; others should allow longer. It may take some walkers up to 12 hours. 

This is not a competitive event! You can go at your own pace, but if we are concerned about you being able to finish the distance safely, we will recommend you stop early.

There will be full support throughout the challenge with marshals and water stops along the route.

Preparing for the challenge

Terrain

We trek mainly on grass or gravel paths but there are some small tarmac roads and at least one main road crossing. Some sections may be muddy. There are many hills of varying length and gradient, and little true flat terrain. The environment we walk through needs the respect of all its users to be preserved. Please walk on the path surface rather than on the vegetation growing beside it, don’t remove stones from the paths and don’t take short-cuts. Please follow the Countryside Code.

Training

This is a long and tough one-day walk and it is consequently vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. The more training that you do the more you will enjoy the experience! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.

Weather

Be prepared for any weather! This may only be a one-day event, but you still need appropriate, good quality footwear and clothing to cope with the weather conditions and the length of walk.

Clothing & Equipment

We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Each person should bring a small daypack to carry lunch, camera, waterproofs, sun cream, a warm fleece and any other items needed during the day.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits.
This is not a race and we design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace – within reason! Due to safety and logistical reasons there will be an achievable cut-off time. There will be vehicles at certain check-points to transport any walkers who will not be able to manage the distance in time. Therefore it’s important to train hard to complete your challenge.