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South Downs Ultra Challenge

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About the Challenge

This is an extremely arduous 100km endurance trek over the rolling hills and high ridges of the scenic South Downs. We walk through day and night, with some steep ups and downs, before coming to the spectacular final stretch over the famous white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. We finish on the highest chalk sea cliff in England – the beautiful headland of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne. You’ll be incredibly happy to see it!

This is a very tough challenge – you will need to be a very fit, experienced walker and determined to conquer the hilly terrain and the fatigue in order to succeed. Your sense of achievement will last a lifetime!

South Downs Ultra Challenge

  • We set off early in the morning – essential for completing the distance – from the historic market town of Arundel, featured in the Domesday Book. We follow the River Arun through an area of wetlands, with good views of Arundel’s wonderful castle behind us. Our first steep climb brings us up onto the Downs; we continue along the ridge, buoyed by the amazing views. Most of our day is spent dipping down and climbing back up again! Towards the end of the day, at roughly our half-way point, we climb up to the highest point of the trek – Ditchling Beacon (248m), which is the third-highest point on the South Downs. It will probably be getting dark at this stage. After a brief rest, we continue walking, passing Lewes, an old Roman settlement complete with a Saxon castle, and head southwest, back towards the hills.

    There are some steep sections for the next few miles; you’ll be feeling tired and in the dark it’s more challenging, so it’s important to take it steady. We walk along a ridge, descend and climb up steeply again to Beddingham Hill and its twin radio masts. We’ll be able to see the lights of the built-up coastal belt. Our route now contours along to reach Firle Beacon (217m), a great point for another rest before we head downhill via the ancient, well-preserved Long Burgh long barrow; we soon come to the small village of Alfriston, with its authentic half-timbered buildings. We cross and then follow Cuckmere River as it winds its way to the coast – this is our first flat section of any length! Depending on your walking pace, it should also be getting light again around this point, and this, combined with the respite for our leg muscles, should help us feel more refreshed and determined!

  • The way ahead is particularly scenic, which helps to motivate your tired body and tick off the remaining miles. Cuckmere Haven, where the river meets the English Channel, is a common film location: with its backdrop of white chalk cliffs, the 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 have earned a powerful sense of achievement that will never leave us! After time to celebrate with your fellow endurance survivors, we say our farewells and head home.

    Trek approx 100 km

Prices may vary depending on date.

  • Available pricing options

    Fundraising Option
    Registration Fee £49 Fundraising target £350 Tour Cost - Airline Taxes - Contact Us
    Full Payment Option
    Registration Fee £49 Fundraising target - Tour Cost £175 Airline Taxes - Contact Us

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

    Fundraising Target (i)
    Paid 10 or 6 weeks prior to trip departure

    Trip Cost (i)
    Payable 8 or 4 weeks prior to trip departure


    • Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support staff throughout
    • Back-up vehicles
    • Marshalling stops with food, water, hot drinks and plenty of snacks
    • Maps and route information
    • Transfer to start of trek from car-park at beachy head


    • Travel insurance (optional)
    • Personal items such as drinks, snacks and souvenirs
    • Transport to / from the event and parking fees
    • Entry to any optional sites or activities
    • Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions


    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support crew. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary, as well as vehicle support.

  • An expedition doctor or medic accompanies the group (dependent on group size.) Their role is to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly, and encourage you when things get tough. The total number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: participant ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent 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 communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They 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 medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. 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.

  • This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. Training is all part of the preparation: inadequate training will impact on your enjoyment of the trip, and your chances of completing it. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace.


Tom - November 2016

The crew provided a lot of great encouragement and support. They really helped to keep me going.

Brian - November 2016

All the crew were excellent, gave a real boost to see friendly faces at the checkpoints. We didn't nned help from the doctor ourselve,  but saw her help several people through who said they wouldn't have finished without her help.

Trek Training Weekend


£160 Special Offer - Only when you book at the same time as registering for your main challenge

Discover Adventure Trek Training Weekends take place in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. This training weekend is designed to put you through your paces to enable you to gauge fitness levels and gain advice from our experienced leaders.


GRADE | intense (4)

Trip grades range from Challenging (1) to Extreme (5).

INTENSE trips involve particularly challenging terrain and tough conditions, usually at altitude. As well as good fitness and stamina, they demand a determined approach and total commitment.

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