The UK’s newest National Park will be four years old on Tuesday 1 April and the National Park Society – the South Downs Society – is celebrating with free special walks throughout the region.
Robert Self, a Society spokesperson, said “For over sixty years, campaigners worked for the South Downs to be recognized as a National Park. Its outstanding landscape and network of historic pathways finally received the protection they deserved in 2010 and we will be celebrating this 4th anniversary by enjoying the stunning spring scenery on three superb walks”.
Peter Taylor will start the first anniversary walk on Saturday 29th March at 10.00. A four and a half mile walk taking in the Seven Sisters, Friston Church and the Smugglers route back. There will be hills, stiles and it will be fairly muddy in places! Lunch will be at the Tiger Inn, East Dean and returning to the meeting point of Birling Gap CP (OS Explorer map reference 123/555959) at 13.00
Robert Self will be continuing the celebration in Hampshire: a 6 mile ‘Downland in a Nutshell’ circular walk, with two stiles, from the public car park north of Stoughton, PO18 9JG (OS Explorer map reference 120/814126). Departing at 11.00 on Tuesday 1st April, splendid views and two steepish climbs returning at 15.15 after a midway lunch at the Hare & Hounds.
Alternatively, on the same date in the central area of the National Park, take part in an 11 mile walk with Brenda Mann and enjoy the stunning scenery on the Sussex Border Path. Meet at the slip road north of the A23 nr Pyecombe, NW of the Plough pub (OS Explorer map reference 122/288127) by 10.00. Enjoy a lunch at the Black Lion and return at 16.00.
Finally, Dave Meyer will be starting his ‘Tenth Anniversary Walk’ at 09.15 on Thursday 10th April at Buriton Pond (OS Explorer map reference 120/739200) which is a 17 mile walk stopping for lunch at the Castle Inn. Taking in Windmill Hill, Rowlands Castle and Ladyholt, this will come to an end at 16.30.
The National Park was created on 1 April 2010, and the National Park Authority took up its full powers as planning and access authority on 1 April 2011. The Society has praised the National Park Authority for its work, by acting to protect and enhance the precious landscape of the South Downs.
Everyone is invited to join in on the celebratory walks, all of which are free. Walkers are advised to bring a drink and a bite to eat, a sunhat or waterproof – depending on the Great British weather of the day – and to wear sturdy shoes. More information about any of the walks can be obtained from the South Downs Society on 01798 875073.