The South Downs is a beautiful sprawl of countryside that’s sandwiched between London and England’s south coast. The pretty villages, rolling hills and stunning scenery of the area offer a lot of hidden gems for families to explore. If you’re looking for a fantastic day out, or even an extended holiday, visiting and staying in the South Downs is ideal.
Getting to the South Downs from the capital is relatively easy as trains frequently run to nearby Brighton; another family friendly option is to travel by car hire from London. That is what we did and is usually our preference. Whichever you may opt for, a trip into the beautiful countryside is only a short journey away. Once there, a huge number of options are awaiting you, and there’s plenty to do regardless of how long you’re staying.
If your family love nothing more than to indulge in outdoor activities, then there’s a great little campsite near Streat. Blackberry Wood Campsite is a small and secluded gem that will thrill the entire family. The majority of pitches are located in small forest glades with a fire pit and a few logs to use as seats. The site has a toilet and shower block so you don’t have to rough it completely, and if you want a night off from cooking over an open fire, an award-winning pub, the Jolly Sportsman, is just a short walk away. The site also has Wi-Fi, so you can spend your evenings planning which bike trails, walks and local attractions you want to visit the next day.
Walking, cycling and hiking are some of the best ways to enjoy the South Downs’ stunning landscape. Seven Sisters Country Park at Eastbourne is a vast space of 280 hectares, and there are plenty of trails and bike paths to enjoy. In addition, you can canoe along the river and even stay on the park’s campsite. Alternatively, the South Downs Way is an ideal trail for walking. This walk is 100 miles long, so you might need to carefully plan which section you want to attempt. It meanders through lovely market towns, such as Lewes and Petersfield, and passes some incredibly beautiful spots including Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon. If you’re travelling with youngsters, it’s a good to plan a day’s activities including a short section of the South Downs Way and some of the attractions it passes.
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Another great family day out, though only if its fine weather, is the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Arundel. A midst 26 acres of wetlands, you’ll find boardwalks and hides, as well as hundreds of birds which can be fed. There’s a fantastic ‘Pond Explorer’ exhibition for children to learn about aquatic creatures. In addition, there are also boat safaris which take you onto the water and into the reed beds in search of some of the reserve’s rarer specimens.
Though exploring the South Downs by walking and cycling can be fun, there are times when you need to take a break. Luckily, Winchester is within easy travelling distance and it makes the ideal urban retreat. This ancient city is home to one of Europe’s largest cathedrals, and even if you don’t go inside, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. The Square has some great shops to enjoy if you want some retail therapy, and there are some fantastic restaurants and cafes in the area too.
The South Downs holds a lot of excitement for families who are ready to take it. A plethora of outdoor activities, combined with some lovely villages and cities to explore, make this beautiful area of England an ideal family holiday spot.