Best campsites in the South Downs National Park
Here are our expert-recommended campsites and attractions in and around the South Downs National Park
Formed in 2010, The South Downs is the newest national park in the UK; the park covers an area of 628 square miles through East and West Sussex and Hampshire. The chalky hills of the South Downs can be traversed via the South Downs Way, the only national trail to lie wholly within a national park. The iconic coastal chalk cliffs at Beach Head and Seven Sisters are typical of the dramatic scenery you can see in the East of the park, whilst the Western Weald is a mixture of woodland and heathland.
Stretching across a swathe of the Southern coast, the South Downs is rich in history; from the Litlington White Horse to the Vandalian Tower there is much to discover.
The Vandalian Tower was built during the reign of George III in 1774 to commemorate the founding of Vandalia, a proposed colony in North America between modern-day Kentucky and West Virginia. Much like the tower, nothing ever came of the settlement. Part of the Uppark estate, the tower is managed by the National Trust and can be visited from the South Downs Way.
The Litlington White Horse and Long Man of Wilmington are only a couple of miles apart, and whilst they appear to be ancient, both are possibly only a couple of hundred years old. The White Horse is said to date back to the 1830s and the coronation of Queen Victoria, though this fell into disrepair, and a new horse was cut in 1924.
The earliest record of the Long Man is from a 1710 drawing by surveyor John Rowley. For much of his history, the Long Man was little more than an indentation in the hillside, leading him to be known locally as the "Green Man" A less than sympathetic "restoration" in the 1870s left the outline marked with whitewashed bricks, these were then replaced with breeze blocks in the 1960s. No matter their history, both make for an impressive site and are well worth a visit.
Top South Downs National Park Attractions
As with the other National Parks in England, Scotland and Wales, the great outdoors is the main appeal of the region. The South Downs Way stretches 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne, and most people tackle the route over a week; this gives plenty of time to explore the history of the area, in particular, the Chanctonbury Ring and the Long Man of Wilmington.
Cyclists are well catered for and can enjoy the Downs Link bridleway, a 37-mile route from St Martha's Hill to Steyning. The path follows the course of two disused railway lines, the Steyning and Cranleigh lines, both victims of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. The Shipwrights Way takes you from Alice Holt to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, a journey of 50 miles along shared use trails.
If walking or cycling isn't your thing, then a trip to Drusillas Park or Marwell Zoo make for popular diversions, as does a visit to the Weald and Downland Living Museum, where you can discover the history of the area in over 50 historic buildings dating back over 950 years. Heading further back in time, a visit to Bignor Roman Villa is a must, with stunning mosaic floors rediscovered over 200 years ago.
Top South Downs National Park Campsites
Morn Hill Caravan and Motorhome Club site is an ideal site for an overnight prior to a cross channel sailing being just 14 miles from...
As you top the rise on the approach road, you will see Rookesbury Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site splendidly set in tranquil parkland and...
Located just outside the historic city of Chichester, this large site is a member of the Park Holidays group. Set amidst ten fishing lakes, it...
Littlehampton Caravan and Motorhome Club site is set on the outskirts of this delightful seaside resort, and just a 30 minute brisk walk away from...
Located in Worthing, West Sussex and only 1.5 miles away from the nearest beach in Goring, the Northbrook Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club site is...