Call us now 01722 718444

South Downs Ultra Challenge

Enquire Book now

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 - Book now
    Full Payment Option
    Registration Fee £49 Fundraising target - Tour Cost £175 Airline Taxes - Book now

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

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

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

    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.

  • Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders, assisted by mechanics and support crew depending on the type of trip. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. The crew will have radios and/or phones, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary, as well as vehicle support.

  • Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not recommended, so we suggest your kit is packed in a soft rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

  • 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 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.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • We could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be 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.

  • 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. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.


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 (3)

This trip includes some very challenging terrain and tough conditions, usually at altitude. We will supply you with a thorough training guide when you have registered. Training for the challenge is all part of the preparation and requires commitment! Without it, you will find the challenge less enjoyable - and we want you to have the time of your life!
Latest Brochure from Discover Adventure

Get our latest Brochure

Our 2017 / 2018 Challenges Brochure is available by Post or Download