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Winchester to Exton

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Macs Adventure Verifizierter Partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Thatched-roof cottages along the way
    / Thatched-roof cottages along the way
    Foto: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
m 300 200 100 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Beacon Hill The Milburys Winchester Cathedral

The first stage of the South Downs Way begins in the historic city of Winchester and takes you to Exton via Beacon Hill Nature Reserve. A wonderful introduction to the trail. 
19,9 km
5:30 h
248 hm
208 hm

Your first day walking quickly takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Winchester into the countryside.  The pretty village of Chilcomb with its thatched cottages and village green is a real highlight today. As you climb Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve you are rewarded with views across the Meon Valley to Old Winchester Hill. The route has recently changed and now bypasses the village of Exton. However, a short half-mile walk to the south takes you into the village.

The South Downs Way starts in the historic city of Winchester. Famous for its Gothic cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, it is also the resting place of novelist Jane Austen who died in Winchester in 1817. The city is home to the UK's largest farmer's market. Browse over 100 stalls selling artisan bread, cheese and ice-cream, just to mention a few of the goodies on offer! The market takes place twice a month, usually the second and last Sunday of each month. Winchester has all the amenitites you may need such as a Tourist Info Centre, supermarkets, pharmacies, ATMS, cafés and restaurants. 

Exton is a beautiful little village located in the Meon Valley with a population of approx. 200. There are only two community buildings in the village, the church and the Shoe Inn pub. Consider reserving your evening meal here in advance. 


Our luggage handlers on the SDW run to an extremely tight schedule to ensure that hundreds of customers bags are delivered on time to their next accommodations by 17:00 (along the entire route). Therefore, to avoid any delays in Winchester, they ask that you have your main bag down at reception and ready to be collected by no later than 08:30am.

Profilbild von Sarah Stone
Sarah Stone
Aktualisierung: 22.09.2020

Höchster Punkt
200 m
Tiefster Punkt
35 m


The South Downs Way occassionally crosses busy roads, take care when crossing!


If you wish to carry a hardcopy map, we would recommend buying the South Downs Way map published by Harvey's Maps. Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.


If you wish to bring a guidebook, we would recommend Trailblazer's South Downs Way by Jim Manthorpe & Daniel McCrohan.

Food & Drink

There are plenty of places to stock up on supplies in Winchester. Although you will be walking through towns and villages, café opening hours are not always guaranteed, therefore we recommend taking enough food and drink to see you through until your next overnight location. 

Weitere Infos und Links

Please see the interactive map for notable points of interest.  Click the icons on the map for more information.


The City Mill, Winchester (38 m)
51.060960, -1.307924
51°03'39.5"N 1°18'28.5"W
30U 618573 5657966




*** To help you follow the route with confidence we provide these route notes to help you. The South Downs Way is well waymarked, but we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***


The South Downs Way begins at Winchester's City Mill which is located just east of the Cathedral, in the city centre. There is a large wooden sign here designating the start of the trail - a great photo opportunity! Walk alongside the River Itchen and follow it south out of the city. As you reach the Wharf (Seagram's) Mill, turn left to cross the river and continue East following signage/GPS tracks into the rolling countryside. 

At approx. 2km arrive at the busy M3 motorway. There is a footbridge for walkers to safely cross. Leaving the motorway behind, walk through a field to reach the beautiful village of Chilcomb. Take some time to explore before continuing on the trail out of the village. At this stage the trail climbs steadily, and soon after the trail turns sharply left. 

The trail leaves the tarred road and continues along the edge of a field. Take another sharp left toward the busy A272 road. Carefully cross the road and rejoin the trail on the otherside, passing Cheesefoot Head car park on your right. Continue on, passing trees and fields, enjoying views over the Itchen Valley. Upon reaching the farm buildings on your left, take a sharp right turn, continuing on an obvious track which is flanked by high hegdes. 

At approx. 10 km, arrive at the A272 road once again. Carefully cross the road and continue on the trail on the other side. Continue along quiet lanes and trails, passing quintessential English countryside along the way. 

At approx. 13.5km, arrive at the Milbury's, a traditional pub and and excellent place for a quick refreshment stop (check opening times in advance). From here the trail turns sharply left.  Continue on the obvious trail which eventually goes through a small hamlet with a cluster of houses and farming buldings. Upon leaving the hamlet, be sure to bear right, NOT left, to continue on the SDW along a lane between hedges and two large fields. 

Continue straight ahead, with a field on your right and a cluster of trails that make up the Beacon Hill Nature Reserve on your left. Reach Beacon Hill itself and enjoy fine views over the Meon Valley and Old Winchester Hill. For more information about Beacon Hill please see the Points of Interest on the digital map. Once you have finished admiring the view and taking a well-earned break, continue on the trail as it heads south and then south east to reach Exton, tongiht's overnight stop. For details of exactly where you are staying tonight, please consult your accommodation details. 







alle Hinweise zu Schutzgebieten


51.060960, -1.307924
51°03'39.5"N 1°18'28.5"W
30U 618573 5657966
Anreise mit der Bahn, dem Auto, zu Fuß oder mit dem Rad

Buchtipps für die Region

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Such is the way of British hiking, that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Walking poles may be helpful on some of the ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

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19,9 km
248 hm
208 hm


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