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South Downs Trek - 20 mile route

n/a days
Grade 2

About the challenge

The South Downs National Park, although only designated a National Park in 2010, has been enjoyed by walkers and cyclists for decades. Its varied landscapes see a higher number of visitors than any of England’s nine other National Parks.

Our route starts at the ancient landmark of Devil’s Dyke and follows part of the famously scenic South Downs Way. We walk over rolling hills and high ridges dotted with long barrows and ancient earthworks, often accompanied by magnificent vistas down to the sea. We tackle stiff climbs and descents before our final stretch brings us downhill towards Worthing and St Barnabas Hospice.
This is a tough event over rolling downs; at almost 21 miles, it forms a demanding day for walkers.

For more information and to sign up please click here

The itinerary

We meet up at Northbrook College, and after trip registration and a briefing transfer to our start point near the wonderful landmark of Devil’s Dyke. We set off along the ridge with fabulous views over this steep V-shaped valley - the UK’s deepest dry valley – and the surrounding countryside. It’s a very inspiring way to start our big day!

We stay on high ground and enjoy the views as we walk west. This landscape is rich in natural beauty and history; in our first few miles we pass the remains of an ancient motte and bailey castle and Truleigh Hill, marked by its radio masts, where secret bunkers were installed during the cold war.

Our path then dips down to cross the River Adur just south of Steyning, and climb gradually back up onto the ridge again, turning north. We walk uphill for several miles until we reach Chanctonbury Ring, another ancient site which, like Devil’s Dyke, has local legends linked to the Devil. At 742ft, or 240m, this is our highest point and the views are wonderful.

Passing our halfway point, we dip down again to cross over a busy road on a footbridge, and then inevitably climb up again – our last big uphill stretch. We now head south on a long, gradual descent towards the coast. Our legs will be feeling the miles and downhill isn’t always better for the muscles, but our goal is in sight! Coming back to the outskirts of Goring-by-Sea, we walk to the hospice and have time to celebrate with our fellow participants before returning home.

Total distance: 20 miles / 32 km

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
  • Ttransfer to start point
  • Packed lunch

What's Excluded?

  • personal insurance (optional)
  • any parking fees or transport costs
  • accommodation if required

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 the Hospice – where you can park – to the start near Devil's Dyke.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires – is all done with your safety in mind.

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. 

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details. We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at or call 01302 388883.

Preparing for the challenge

Walking Information

Groups may set off at staggered intervals (depending on numbers) but you can go at your own pace. The full 20-mile walk should take approximately 6-8 hours for fit and strong walkers; other should allow longer. It may take some walkers up to 10 hours or more. 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.


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.


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.


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.