WITH crisp fresh air, crunchy leaves underfoot and stunning vistas, an invigorating Christmas walk is a family tradition for many, as part and parcel of the festive celebration as turkey and tinsel.

The South Downs National Park, with mile upon mile of sumptuous scenery, offers the perfect place to enjoy a festive amble, dusting off those Christmas cobwebs.

Allison Thorpe, who leads access and recreation for the park, shared some of her favourite festive walks across the South Downs in Sussex.

She said: "Whether you're looking for a blustery walk with all the family, a quiet romantic stroll, or a walk with the dog, the South Downs National Park is an amazing winter wonderland where you can gaze in awe at the sheer beauty of the landscape, often blanketed in frost or snow.

"The sunrises and sunsets are especially impressive this time of year, so it's a great opportunity to take landscape photographs of the National Park and, if you're not averse to the cold, a clear night offers the chance to gaze at the stars at one of our Dark Sky Discovery Sites."


This village has many old buildings, thatched cottages, a castle, a church and two pubs, as well as a mainline railway station just yards from the South Downs Way.

A walk up Amberley Mount presents fantastic views of the Arun Valley, where you can clearly see how the flowing River Arun carved out its channel through the chalk.

There’s a ten-mile walk taking in the hidden village of Burpham, but if ten miles is a bit much for you, there’s a shorter two-and-a-half mile loop around Amberley village, providing you with views over Amberley Brooks before bringing you back to the railway station.

The Argus: Beachy Head and Seven Sisters: credit - Sam MooreBeachy Head and Seven Sisters: credit - Sam Moore

Seven Sisters Country Park

Named after the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs that form part of the Sussex Heritage Coast, it is one of the finest sections of unspoilt coastline in England.

The park also has a Miles Without Stiles route, suitable for push chairs and people with limited mobility or those using wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

The route is just over a mile long, passing along the Cuckmere River before taking in views of the Seven Sisters from the beach.


With a fairytale castle, tranquil lake, a heated lido, and more than a dozen cafes, pubs and restaurants, Arundel has a lot to offer, especially at Christmas.

You could opt for the shorter four-mile walk around Swanbourne Lake and the River Arun or go for a longer seven-mile walk through Arundel Park and South Stoke, taking in the Monarch’s Way – the supposed route taken by Charles II on his escape from England to France after the defeat by Oliver Cromwell at Worcester in 1651.

The Argus: Arundel Castle at night: credit - Sean LewisArundel Castle at night: credit - Sean Lewis

Stansted Park

Stansted Park boasts some of the most scenic parkland and ancient forest in the South of England.

In the medieval period, the Earls of Arundel had a hunting lodge on the site, surrounded by a vast forested area used for hunting and timber production.

Changes in ownership over the years resulted in a new house being built in the 17th century when the formal gardens were laid out. However, the Elizabethan house was destroyed by fire in 1900, along with all its historical records.

A new house was built on the same footprint in 1901 and visitors can tour the house or enjoy the various attractions the park has to offer, including the maze, miniature railway, arboretum and pottery studio.

Petworth Park

Managed by the National Trust, Petworth Park is a favourite for dog walkers, with 700 acres of lakes, lawn hills and belts of trees.

Home to the largest herd of fallow deer in England, the park is the perfect escape into a winter wonderland.

Stanmer Park

Covering approximately 5,000 acres, Stanmer Park has a wealth of history to be discovered. The church, the village and the manor house stand on sites of much earlier versions of themselves, with some of the building materials being reused in the current buildings.

Steyning and Bramber

The historic village of Bramber with its medieval castle is the start and end point of a Miles Without Stiles route, which follows the Downs Link path along the River Arun.

On a winter's day, you can see flocks of Canada geese flying in formation up and down the river.

Once a port on the River Arun, Steyning was prized by the Normans for its inland location and ease for accessing the Channel.

From Steyning, you can easily access the South Downs Way, where you can follow a seven mile self-guided walk. Along the trail, you will come across Chanctonbury Ring, one of the highest points in the National Park.

The Argus: Ditchling Beacon: credit - Sam MooreDitchling Beacon: credit - Sam Moore

Charleston, Ditchling and Monk's House

Earlier this year, three heritage venues, Charleston Farmhouse, Monk's House and Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, launched a new immersive walking experience telling the unique story of each area.

The In Their Footsteps' app is a self-guided audio tour through the Sussex countryside, with the walks offering a great opportunity to explore some of the National Park's amazing cultural venues.


Home to the Glyndebourne Opera House, Glynde is a quintessential Sussex downland village.

Walking along the Glynde route, you can see Mount Caburn hill fort and National Nature Reserve, the Elizabethan mansion Glynde Place, plus panoramic views of the Ouse Valley and Lewes.

Further down the A27 is the village of Firle, situated at the foot of Firle Beacon, one of the highest points in the South Downs National Park.


Walkers are urged to stick to the Countryside Code when walking around the National Park and keep dogs on leads.

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