The government announced national park status for the South Downs on the 60th anniversary of the Hobhouse Report, which over half a decade earlier had said it should be made a national park. So in 2011, the most populated corner of Britain finally got the recreational refuge it was desperate for. It is the most visited of all the national parks, with 39 million visitors per year. We were in the midst of this enthusiastic campaign, calling for the highest protection in the land for its unique but fragile chalk and clay landscapes, wooded plateaux’s, river valleys and lowland heaths.
Spanning 90 miles from Beachy Head across Sussex and Hampshire to Winchester and taking in the iconic Seven Sister’s hills with their deep green turfed hilltops and chalk white curves, this is an exhilarating place for walkers of all types and abilities. One of the unique selling points of the South Downs is that the grass is untreated allowing an abundance of plantlife to flourish including bluebells, wildflower meadows and a variety of orchids. Walkers are well served by the 100-mile South Downs Way, woodlands, countryside, coast and an impressive 3,000 kilometres of rights of way.
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