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‘Friends of the South Downs’ support Centurion Way !

The Friends of the South Downs have expressed their concerns about plans to divert the Chichester end of the Centurion Way for the Whitehouse Farm housing development and have joined support to call on Chichester planners to protect the well used green route from permanent damage.

The Society’s Policy Officer, Steve Ankers comments ‘’ The Society shares the concerns of the Friends of Centurion Way about the threat to the path from the proposed southern access to the housing development. As well as local use, the Way is of course also an important route to and from the delights of the National Park, and we are concerned that any re-routing will damage this key asset. We will continue our support, as we did on phase 1 of Whitehouse Farm, and will raise concerns regarding the further planning applications that are to be put forward. Our Society want to retain an undamaged Centurion Way, and not just within the Park area. READ MORE…

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Strategic Plan 2016/19

The Society’s strategic plan (which sets out our key aims and objectives for the next few years) has been updated to ensure that we remain a vibrant and relevant organisation, “fit for purpose” in our passion to conserve, enhance and enjoy the national park. Whether it’s by leading a walk, checking the state of local footpaths, giving a talk about our work to a parish council or amenity organisation, organising a practical conservation task or devising a project for local schools, you may be able to help the Society grow from strength to strength in its aims, more vital now than ever before.

You can download and view a copy of the updated plan HERE.

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Congratulations to Louise

On Saturday this last weekend Louise undertook and completed the 100Km super marathon from London’s Richmond Park to Brighton Racecourse.  We would like to congratulate her for her sterling effort.L2B 100k

Here’s what Louise had to say when she came into the office this morning, “Ditchling Beacon was the final hurdle at 89Km, going up it was a challenge in itself, but coming down the other side and seeing the Racecourse lit up made it all worthwhile.”

Sponsorships with Gift Aid stand at almost £700 and we would like to thank all of those who have given so generously.  Anybody who would like to make an donation can do so on the BT My Donate page HERE.

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A celebration of the South Downs National Park's 5th birthday

Owen Plunkett, publicity officer for Hampshire Ramblers and South Downs Society member organised a celebratory fifth anniversary event at the Park Centre in Midhurst on Saturday 4th April.

The meeting began with an address from Margaret Paren, chairman of the National Park Authority, who said that she preferred to look to the future rather than dwell on the past. She spoke of an aim to produce an innovative local plan based on ecosystem services, initiate  a ‘shared identity for the park’ and for the park to become part of an International Dark Skies Reserve.

Kate Ashbrook, president of the Ramblers and general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, also addressed the meeting. She congratulating the park on its five years of achievement, and that it was wonderful to see 98-year-old Len Clark who had arrived by bus from his home in Godalming. Len had been present at the second reading of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Bill in 1949 and had been a major voice in the campaigne for the South Downs National Park.

Kate went on to say;  The National Park is close to many population centres which is both a problem and an opportunity. There are numerous pressures for development close to its boundaries, threatening its grand landscape and its dark skies, and  it is a vital place for refreshment and reinvigoration, especially for urban dwellers”.

She commented on the need for more open spaces on the downs and links between the scattered and inaccessible mapped areas and later congratulated the South Downs Society in doing a splendid job devising walks which take in access land and link up the sites.

Some 30 or so of the audience were then conducted on a 7 miles circular walk across the Cowdray Estate which proved very enjoyable. This was followed back at the Centre by drinks and cake including a toast to the national park.

The Society took the occasion to publically launch its new series of 10 Open Access Land map leaflets with their associated guided walks. These fitted in well with one of the themes in Kate Ashbrook’s talk and were well received by those present. The maps can be found HERE.

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National park hosts MP fact finding visit

Group PhotoT

The Society has today, 2 March, issued the following press release:


National park “Friends” group, the South Downs Society, has hosted a visit from shadow minister Barry Gardiner MP at Seven Sisters Country Park. The MP was responding to receipt of  “National Parks in the 21st Century: a manifesto for the next Westminster Government”, produced by the Campaign for National Parks (CNP).

 Each national park has its own supportive society, raising funds and campaigning to conserve the special park landscape. CNP is the national umbrella organisation for the national park societies.

 Says South Downs Society chairman, Robert Cheesman, “The manifesto aims to highlight to politicians the vital role the national parks play in the local economy as well as in people’s recreation and enjoyment, and their need for strong planning protection and secure funding. We will be sending it out to prospective parliamentary candidates locally and CNP has circulated it to national politicians of all parties in advance of the general election. Barry Gardiner wanted to hear more and to share his thoughts on possible future legislation and funding for the national parks and our Society was very happy to host his meeting with CNP and local environmental groups in the South Downs.”

 Poor weather and the MP’s tight timetable rather put a dampener on plans to explore the country park and its iconic river meanders but those attending found the meeting very helpful.

 Says Robert Cheesman, “These irreplaceable national assets need friends in high places as well as local support. Whichever party or parties may be in power after the election, it is essential that the national parks are safeguarded and that all sectors of the community are able to appreciate and enjoy them. I believe Mr. Gardiner was taking careful note of what we all had to say.”



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Raise money for South Downs Society through BT MyDonate

We are delighted to announce that anyone wishing to establish a fundraising event in support of the society can now do so through BT MyDonate.

If you want to make a difference to the South Downs Society and organise an event to raise funds to help us continue our work in protecting the beauty of the South Downs then please consider using our BT MyDonate portal to set up your event page and collect donations from your sponsors.

All donation transactions are extremely secure and will be sent to the Society directly from MyDonate, so you don’t have to collect anything yourself.

To learn more about using BT MyDonate to support the Society click on the image below.

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Members Meeting

SDS Members

Held in the Norfolk Arms in November, this half day meeting was an opportunity for Council members to give short talks on particular areas in which they were involved and to encourage questions from members attending this informal event.

Chairman, Robert Cheesman, introduced the speaker starting with Trevor Beeston covering a range of current planning issues. This was followed by Glynn Jones on ‘The High Woods Project’, looking for volunteer members to take part in investigating hidden historic sites. Robert Self spoke about the work of the Access & Rights if Way Committee and the importance of their work in providing information about the state of footpaths etc. Further maps of the Society’s series of Access Land Maps would be available shortly on the website. Not finance, but the ‘Secret Shore Project’ was the subject of the talk by Andrew Lovett. Funding had now been secured for the project which would involve a wide ranging exercise, gathering information about some Sussex coastal towns and their hinterland. In presenting an analysis of the Society’s events over the last 3 years, Peter Harris said it had become more difficult recently to sustain reasonable numbers on some events but it was important to provide a range of activities for members. Ian Elliott spoke of the need for the Society to become more concerned with Conservation aspects and was looking for some District Officers to become more involved in highlighting problems.

In conclusion, Robert Cheesman mentioned that Council would welcome members’ views on the proposed improvements to the A27. In thanking members for coming, he said we would consider holding similar sessions in other parts of our area.

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New Songs and Folklore Project launched

The traditional songs, folklore and history of the coastal region of the South Downs will be brought to life in a new project launched by the South Downs Society this week.

The ‘Secret Shore’ project, which has received a grant of £50,600 from HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) will recruit volunteers over a two year period to learn the folk songs once popular in the harbour and coastal towns of the region. There will also be workshops in which participants can learn about and research the folklore and superstitions that once played such an important role in the lives of everyday people.

‘Secret Shore’ will conduct a survey of modern superstitions in the coastal towns and see how present-day beliefs compare with the ones recorded in Victorian times. Volunteers will also be trained to conduct oral history interviews so that the lives and stories of fisherman and other local people can be recorded for posterity.

The project will focus its efforts in the towns of Littlehampton, Worthing, and Shoreham, including some of the most socially deprived wards in the South-East. As South Downs Society Chairman, Robert Cheesman explains, the project will be aimed at a broad cross section of local people – “Between 2011 and 2013 we ran the very successful Songs of the South Downs project, which taught traditional songs to over 200 hundred people. It was a great success but this project has even greater ambitions. We know that most of the population of the South Downs region live in the coastal towns and it is these people we want to engage with, including younger people and those who live in less affluent areas.”

The project will begin recruiting volunteers in the New Year, following the appointment of a Project Manager. Half-day workshops on folklore and local history will be held in Worthing in the spring, followed later in the year with songs workshops in Littlehampton and Shoreham. The ‘Secret Shore’ project will be based in offices in Worthing.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “Superstitions, traditions and folklore are inextricably woven through the history of the fishing and harbour towns of the South Downs and we’re pleased to support the ‘Secret Shore’ which will build on the success of a previous HLF funded project to connect even more people with the fascinating heritage which has helped to shape the communities they live in today.”

The project will end with an exhibition of the research gathered over the two years and the release of a CD of the project of volunteers singing the songs they have learned.

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We hope you enjoyed the latest edition of the Downsman and our quarterly Walks & Strolls leaflet. You will recall we sent you two books of raffle tickets for our Grand Raffle with some fabulous prizes and we now have the pleasure of announcing a further prize: Gilbert White’s House in Alton have kindly donated a 6 month family ticket!

Tickets are only £1 each and prizes include overnight B&B at Belle Tout lighthouse, £150 cash, Patron Membership, cream tea for 2 at Langrish House, South Downs Society goody bag and a meal for 2 at The Crown Inn at Cootham.

Please return your stubs and payment asap as there is now only one month until the draw!

Good luck and please contact if you would like any further tickets to sell to friends and family.