Author Topic: South Downs Way 2020  (Read 2168 times)

Estevens90

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South Downs Way 2020
« on: 08:49:57, 08/09/19 »
Morning All!


I've decided to complete the South Down Way trail to celebrate my 30th birthday in May 2019.


I'm a seasoned camper and casual stroller. Which means I usually camp with a blow up bed and a full kitchen set up and I enjoy a walk in the country, but I wouldn't consider myself to be a hiker. Therefore, I've decided to complete my hike over 4 or 5 trips, over the course of three months. Potentially finishing the final loop around Eastbourne on my actual birthday at the very end of May. I've chose SDW, as it's easily accessible from London along most of the route.


I plan on starting in February or March, getting a train from London to Winchester, walking to East Meon and camping overnight. The next day I plan to walk on to Petersfield and get the train back to London. This is how I plan on completing the trail, returning back to the station I left from and picking up from where I left the trail. If I follow my plan, I can complete it in 4 trips.


My concern is that the estimated walking time between winchester and East Meon is approx 5/6 hours. I[size=78%]'m concerned this distance is over ambitious for my first leg. I do plan on stopping for lunch and taking my time- I guess my question is, is 6 hours of walking considered much in the hiking world? I plan on squeezing in day trips around Surrey to get a feel for my capabilities and up my fitness in the meantime.[/size]
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I'm really excited to get going! Would love to hear from anyone who's completed or completing this route.- Or in fact anyone who has thoughts on my plan.


Happy Travels!
« Last Edit: 08:53:13, 08/09/19 by Estevens90 »

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #1 on: 09:13:03, 08/09/19 »
This link might help. https://thewalkinggardener.com/2016/06/12/the-south-downs-way-day-1-winchester-to-east-meon/


The walker mentions 18 miles, plus a further 2 miles to get to the start of the path. The route also seems to be quite undulating, including Beacon Hill and Old Winchester Hill, among others. If this distance is accurate, 5-6 hours seems optimistic. Remember, days will be short in February.


Edited as the 2 Mikes required to get to the start of the walk could be daunting, particularly if the have big feet. :)
« Last Edit: 10:13:43, 08/09/19 by Bigfoot_Mike »

vghikers

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #2 on: 09:21:37, 08/09/19 »
Quote
...to celebrate my 30th birthday in May 2019.
May 2020 - you can edit your post.

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...is 6 hours of walking considered much in the hiking world?

These things are all relative to experience and levels of fitness  - or more accurately stamina - but 'no'. From many reports I've read, I would say that 6 hours is about average for day walks of all kinds, either easy country walking or strenuous mountain walking, it seems to fit well with the popular idea of a day out walking. If you think 6 hours might be ambitious, take whatever opportunities you can to walk and walk some more!.

It's very short for seasoned backpackers on a fairly easy waymarked LDP or trail in the summer months, I sometimes walk for up to 12 or even 13 hours.

The SDW is on my books as a possibility, I have it plotted in Memory-Map. The only question is whether the route is worth the travel logistics.


vghikers

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #3 on: 09:31:13, 08/09/19 »
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...The walker mentions 18 miles, plus a further 2 miles to get to the start of the path.

Wow, just seen this reply, I was taking the 5-6 hours at face value. I've just looked at my plot of the route and it measures 17.6 miles plus about another 1 mile detour from the SDW to East Meon.

I agree, counting the travelling this is pretty ambitious in February.

WhitstableDave

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #4 on: 10:51:39, 08/09/19 »

...Would love to hear from anyone who's completed or completing this route.- Or in fact anyone who has thoughts on my plan.


I haven't walked the South Downs Way, but I live in Kent and do a lot of walking in a similar climate on similar terrain. I don't know you though so all I can do is share some thoughts from my own perspective...

I don't think that 20 miles in February or March would be a problem. My average natural walking speed is 4mph and I don't stop (except to take photos!), so I'd expect 20 miles to take about 5 hours. I prefer to snack on the move and a banana and a couple of flapjacks would do nicely. One 500ml bottle of fluid would be plenty in winter.

But... if there is ice on the ground or paths are muddy and slippery or there's a strong headwind, that would make a very big difference to the time it would take. So would you be committed to setting off on a particular date or can you choose when to go (if the forecast is poor)? I've walked all through the winter months in Kent and can only remember a handful of days in the last few years when the weather made walking difficult - but you can't know for sure how it will be for you.

Having said all that, in my experience the prevailing wind is from the west so that's a good thing! Also, the ground on the Downs is chalky which means that (on the whole) mud isn't likely to be a problem.

One final thing: I once bought a new pair of hiking boots. I walked around in them a bit and they felt really comfortable. I set off on a 20 mile walk. After 5 miles I was still thinking how comfortable they were. After 8 miles I thought I might be getting blisters. After 12 miles my feet were extremely sore. After 16 miles I was forcing gloves and handkerchief into my boots to try to ease the pain. I suffered the worst blisters I'd ever had, I had bruising on the sides of my feet, and I lost a toenail. The lesson learned was simple: don't set off on a long walk unless you're certain that your boots won't become your enemy!

Hope that helps!  :)

p.s. It's perhaps worth mentioning that I always expect a walk to be about 10% longer than stated/planned, so in reality 20 miles becomes 22 miles for example.
« Last Edit: 11:16:37, 08/09/19 by WhitstableDave »

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #5 on: 12:01:55, 08/09/19 »
The walk report I linked to showed quite a bit of mud on the Winchester to East Meon section. 4 mph is quite a fast speed to maintain for a whole day’s walking, especially for a beginner and at least part of this route is hilly. In my view it is better to expect the walk to take longer than it actually does rather than the other way around.
« Last Edit: 15:24:32, 08/09/19 by Bigfoot_Mike »

sussamb

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #6 on: 12:02:57, 08/09/19 »
Also, the ground on the Downs is chalky which means that (on the whole) mud isn't likely to be a problem.


No, but the chalky trails get very slippery when wet, so sometimes mud would be preferable  O0
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vghikers

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #7 on: 12:03:50, 08/09/19 »
Quote
My average natural walking speed is 4mph and I don't stop (except to take photos!), so I'd expect 20 miles to take about 5 hours. I prefer to snack on the move

I suspect that a sustained overall 4mph and not stopping for eating is very far from typical and potentially misleading for the OP.

Quote
The lesson learned was simple: don't set off on a long walk unless you're certain that your boots won't become your enemy

Even better, don't wear heavy clunking boots, especially on easy trails like the SDW  :)

Warbler

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #8 on: 14:35:18, 08/09/19 »
Here is a possible itinerary, based on 4 visits of 2 days each:

Day 1 - Travel from London to Winchester - Walk about 7 miles to Holden Farm camp site near Cheriton.

Day 2 - Walk 16 miles to Queen Elizabeth Country Park on the A3. Catch a bus from here to Petersfield, then train back to London.

Day 3 - Train back to Petersfield and bus back to QE Country Park. Walk about 15 miles to Graffham (I think there is a camp site here).

Day 4 - Walk about 8 miles to Amberley - Train back to London.

Day 5 - Train from London to Amberley - Walk about 15 miles to Truleigh YHA (you can camp here, or sleep in the hostel).

Day 6 - Walk about 15 miles to Housedean Farm camp site on the A27 - Catch a bus from here to Brighton or Lewes, then train back to London.

Day 7 - Train and bus back to Housedean Farm - Walk about 14 miles to Alfriston where there is a camp site.

Day 8 - Walk about 12 miles to the finish at Eastbourne, then train to Brighton for your celebrations  O0.


WhitstableDave

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #9 on: 14:53:27, 08/09/19 »
I suspect that a sustained overall 4mph and not stopping for eating is very far from typical and potentially misleading for the OP.

Even better, don't wear heavy clunking boots, especially on easy trails like the SDW  :)

Hmm... I did say that I don't know Ellie, but I do know from a previous post that she's 29 and relatively fit and I said my reply would be from my own perspective (which I forgot to mention is as a 66 year old of average height). I made it clear that it was from my perspective because I'm not qualified to judge how how long it might take someone else to walk a certain distance. For instance, on a parallel thread Ellie was told, "It would be at least a 3 hour walk from Petersfield to Meon Springs," (a distance of about 7 miles). But what might take one person more than 3 hours might take another well under 2 hours.

I had no intention of misleading Ellie and I think it would be a simple matter for anyone to calculate their own natural pace. I simply referred to my natural pace because it's the speed I find myself walking at on trails like the SDW when I'm not trying to go fast, slow or sustain it. My suggestion for Ellie is to determine her own natural pace and use it in her calculations - and make an allowance for detours, hills and other factors.

I honestly have no idea if "not stopping for eating is very far from typical". From my own experience (which is all I can offer), taking a break achieves nothing except making it harder to get moving again. I used to stop for a sandwich and a drink, but I didn't like the feeling of lunch slopping around in my stomach for a while afterwards! My routine now is to eat little and fairly often as I go - and if it's untypical, I don't think it's unnatural.

I also had in mind that we're talking about February or March and, depending on the weather, a lunch break might perhaps not have the same appeal as it would have in the summer.

(Oh, and the boots in question were Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX - neither heavy nor clunking!  :) )
« Last Edit: 15:01:37, 08/09/19 by WhitstableDave »

Dread

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #10 on: 15:12:47, 08/09/19 »
Keeping up a pace of 4mph over 20 miles is impressive Dave. I would expect a 20 miler to take all day, eight hours of walking and a couple of 20 minute breaks. Unless I stumble on a pub in which case the break might take longer. I do most of my walking in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales, I don't know how the SDW compares. Like you said there are too many variables to be accurate but I would set off early and not expect to finish until tea time.

ninthace

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #11 on: 15:23:04, 08/09/19 »
Keeping up a pace of 4mph over 20 miles is impressive Dave. I would expect a 20 miler to take all day, eight hours of walking and a couple of 20 minute breaks. Unless I stumble on a pub in which case the break might take longer. I do most of my walking in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales, I don't know how the SDW compares. Like you said there are too many variables to be accurate but I would set off early and not expect to finish until tea time.
Motion seconded - I would expect an average walker, if there is such a thing, to take around 8 hours for this walk, plus a fair bit or minus a small bit depending on the going.
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sussamb

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #12 on: 16:42:51, 08/09/19 »
I honestly have no idea if "not stopping for eating is very far from typical". From my own experience (which is all I can offer), taking a break achieves nothing except making it harder to get moving again. I used to stop for a sandwich and a drink, but I didn't like the feeling of lunch slopping around in my stomach for a while afterwards! My routine now is to eat little and fairly often as I go - and if it's untypical, I don't think it's unnatural.

Must say that's my routine too, eat on the go ...
Where there's a will ...

Estevens90

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #13 on: 18:20:21, 08/09/19 »
Wow! Thank you all for your responses.


I can absolutely hold off until March to start, I'm just being excitable and optimistic in hoping to start in Feb.


My plan is to start out walking from around 9a.m and be finished by 5/6p.m. I'm in no massive rush and happy to move at my own pace, (however fast or slow that is) and I will allow for time deviation.


You're all right though, pace is relative to each individual person's fitness and tolerance levels. So I will definitely be putting in some days trips and get to know my capabilities better.


As for lunch, as long as it's not wet, I like to just sit for a few minutes and enjoy the moment.


Thanks Warbler, for your suggested itinerary, I will look more at that.


Can anyone suggest a good map to use, which has the trail path and surrounding areas on please?

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: South Downs Way 2020
« Reply #14 on: 18:42:05, 08/09/19 »
There appears to be a Harveys XT40 National Trails Map for the South Downs Way in 1:40,000 resolution.


https://dash4it.co.uk/south-downs-way-national-trail..html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8-7h-eHB5AIVCbDtCh0L1welEAQYBSABEgKigfD_BwE