Since taking over Chequers last May we have been exploring some of the many routes by walk, run and bike and welcoming many guests who have enjoyed exploring the wonderful local trails too; whether it be to rest their head at the end of a long day, or to refuel over lunch, afternoon tea or dinner after their efforts!
The South Downs Way path runs for around 100 miles with an undulating path that begins in Winchester and moves past Cheesefoot Head, the towns of Petersfield, Arundel, Amberley, and Steyning, Bignor Roman Villa near Bury, Chanctonbury Ring, Devil's Dyke viewpoint near Brighton, followed by Ditchling Beacon and miles of chalk downland across to Beachy Head, finally ending in Eastbourne. It also passes Birling Gap, a beach area that provides the opportunity to swim - irresistible on a warm summer day! Chequers is within easy reach of many of these stopping points which is why a number of guests have chosen to stay with us for a few days whilst they are walking the many routes.
Much of the South Downs Way is on high chalk downland and the views are always interesting. Perhaps the most dramatic vistas are on the high chalk cliffs on the Seven Sisters, Sussex towards Beachy Head and before the descent to Eastbourne. However, there are also superb views in clear weather from the ridgeway sections on the tops of the downs, especially on Ditchling Beacon.
The Way lies within the South Downs National Park and there is plenty of historic interest along the way, such as the Long Man of Wilmington near Eastbourne, as mentioned above. Diversions are needed to visit Brighton or Lewes, the latter town being of great beauty with an historic centre. Without exception it is a very well maintained and signposted route. While it crosses various villages for provisions much of it is surprisingly isolated and quiet considering the density of the population in south-east England.
Another good spot - the famous Devils Dyke - is a popular port of call for our guests! A nice walking destination with spectacular views to the Isle of Wight. Local folklore explains the valley as the work of the devil. The legend holds that the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the many churches in the Weald of Sussex. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow, making the devil believe that the morning was fast approaching. The devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished. The last shovel of earth he threw over his shoulder fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Wight.
The South Downs Way trail can be walked at a leisurely pace in about a week while a good walker, horse rider or cyclist would take two or three days. It is closed to motorised traffic along the route.
Various events are held along the route; including the British Heart Foundation's annual Randonee. Part or all of the 100 miles is cycled to raise funds for heart disease, the fastest times are sub 8 hours with most riders taking under 14 hours. For the hardcore running community, the national park hosts the SWD 100 in June - a 100 mile ultramarathon, with a total of 12,7000 feet climbing and a time limit of 30 hours!
Stay a while in Pulborough at the Chequers Hotel - an area of outstanding natural beauty and at the foot of the South Downs National Park and explore the local surrounding areas too – Arundel, Petworth, Chichester, Parham, Pulborough Brooks RSPB and more! We have plenty of maps for our guests choosing to take on the challenge!