South Downs

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Rolling downs, hay meadows and miles of trails

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  • Duration

    2 Nights
  • Accommodation

  • Food

    Some provided. Details below
  • Difficulty Levels

    Multiple walk options available See itinerary below
    for more details

Come and explore the beautiful hills of the South Downs over two days of sociable walking based high on one of the hills, giving us never-ending views even as we’re relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening. This guided weekend has walk options for everyone, freshly prepared food, and the chance to see an idyllic landscape while making new friends.

Britain’s newest National Park, the South Downs is a line of chalk hills in the South East of England that has always been popular for walking. With a high chance of warm sunshine, this landscape is what you’re thinking of when you picture rolling meadows of wild flowers and ancient pubs tucked away beside tiny streams running through the white chalk rock. Away to the south, the English Channel glistens, while in the north, the fertile valley of the Weald provides ample wooded shade for those hot summer days.

Social walking adventure weekend exploring the UK's newest national park, the South Downs.


In a nutshell:

  • Explore the white chalk downlands of southern England with a friendly group of walkers.
  • Relax in the hay meadows while we take care of the food and the route planning.
  • Enjoy two walks with a fully qualified guide.
  • All food provided from Friday evening to Sunday morning.

About the location

The South Downs

The line of chalk hills that runs from Winchester in Hampshire to the English Channel at Beachy Head and Eastbourne in East Sussex are known as the South Downs. They are an arable area, with many remaining tracts of hay meadows and woodland, and have been inhabited for thousands of years. The long distance trail of The South Downs Way runs for 100 miles through the hills, and in 2011 the whole ridge, as well as parts of the valley of the Weald in the north, were designated as the South Downs National Park. Despite the amount of farmland, there are hundreds of miles of paths and bridleways, reflecting the historical use of many of the routes we now walk today.

Guided walking weekend in the south downs national park truleigh hill yha

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Our hostel is the perfect place to settle into a relaxing weekend in the South Downs. Feel free to arrive any time after 5pm, when you’ll meet your fellow walkers and get the chance to relax and admire the views while your Large Outdoors host prepares dinner.

During the after-dinner cheese-board, we’ll go over plans for the next few days and discuss the walk. After that, you’re free to enjoy your evening and anticipate the adventures to come.

Guided walking weekend in the south downs national park truleigh hill yha


After a sit-down breakfast we’ll have the chance to make packed lunches before heading out for a day walk. Your leader will consider the group and the weather and come up with a great day out. Options include:

  • Wolstonbury Hill

    Walking right out of the hostel door, we’ll already be up on the ridge of the South Downs. This walk heads east along the ridge, undulating over several small rises and visiting two Iron Age hill-forts, as well as the famous Devil’s Dyke. Our final hill on the ridge is Wolstonbury Hill, with its remains of ancient settlements and fantastic views north over the Weald.

    We then descend into the valley and follow paths along the base of the downs back west, before the final climb back up Truleigh Hill to the hostel. There are several excellent pubs to stop at on the way, and dozens of good picnic spots. This is the longer walk of the two, and will take all day.

  • Banks of the River Adur

    Today’s ‘wander’ will be along the banks of the River Adur, which lies west of our hostel. We’ll be walking straight out the door and heading down the hill into the valley, to join the river in Bramber, beside the castle ruins. Our walk then heads north along the river until we can divert into the village of Small Dole, with the chance of tea or a pub visit.

    From here, our route heads back south, past Tottington Manor and finishing with an ascent back up to the summit of Truleigh Hill and our hostel.

  • Other Options:

    There are lots of path options nearby, including a shorter version of the Wolstonbury Hill walk which only goes as far as Devil’s Dyke, or a journey south towards Brighton, taking in sections of the Sussex Border Path and the Monarch’s Way. And that’s all without any driving! If we drive we could head further east to Lewes, where there are a number of walks up the local hills, followed perhaps by a look round Lewes itself.

How many walk options are offered?

On each of our weekends we aim to offer two walk options each day, so you have a choice of a harder or easier day out. However, this is not always possible. On weekends where there is a small group, instead of cancelling the weekend, we will all head out on the same walk. This walk will be planned so that everyone can have a good day out, with the aim being a social group exploration of the local countryside.

Late afternoon onwards

When we’re all back at the hostel, there’s plenty of time to relax with a well-earned cup of tea in the lounge, reliving the day’s adventure.


It’s sadly time to leave the hostel, so after packing up and having another hearty breakfast, we’ll venture out into the Downs again for another day of exploration.
Options for this day include:

  • Chanctonbury Ring

    A few miles west of the hostel lies the ancient hill-fort of Chanctonbury Ring. We’ll walk through woodland up onto the hill and explore the famous ring, with it’s crown of trees and great defensive position on the edge of the Downs. From here we’ll continue along the hilltops via the South Downs Way and drop back into the valley further along, making it a circular walk.

  • Ditchling Beacon

    Travelling east towards Lewes, we’ll take a walk up onto the South Downs ridge and visit the restored twin 19th century corn windmills of Jack and Jill, before walking east along the ridge to the summit of Ditchling Beacon. We can then make our way back down into the Weald via one of many paths. From the ridge we’ll almost certainly see the sea to the south, a suitable farewell for the weekend.

Midday onwards

We aim for the walks to finish around 1pm, when we meet up in a local pub for a final lunch before heading off. There are a lot of great pubs in the area, so the difficulty will be which one to choose. We hope you’ll leave with a new love for this special part of the country, and a realisation that even in the crowded South East there’s room for wildlife and open spaces!

Our Base:

About the accommodation:

We use a variety of hostels for our South Downs trips. We’ll either be based at Truleigh Hill YHA or a hostel near Eastbourne.

9-11 November – Truleigh Hill YHA, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5FB

Truleigh Hill YHA is perched on top of a hill right in the middle of the South Downs, with fantastic views north over the valley of the Weald.



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Truleigh Hill YHA, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5FB
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What our members have to say...

  • “I didn’t really know what to expect on my first ever walking holiday and wasn’t very prepared if truth be known – lesson to all read the essential kit list especially waterproofs! It was great fun and what a lovely group of supportive and encouraging people, especially Gareth who did a great job looking after us all. I must admit at times I found it a bit challenging but what a great sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountains (hills) I will definitely do this again.
    Member Since 2016
  • Well, for a non-walker it was certainly challenging but my word was it exhilarating! The feeling of achievement after every day, was just fabulous. The group we went with were all strangers on day one, but firm friends by the end of the week. The comradery on some of the tougher walks, helped me to the top…..and wow what views. Anyone thinking of doing it - don’t worry….just go for it!
    Member Since 2016
  • My first Large Outdoors and (Ulster & the Giant's Causeway Walking Weekend) Irish experience was absolutely fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly and Gareth is a joy to be around. I loved every minute and will definitely book myself onto another trip. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocome
    Member Since 2018
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