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Camping and the South Downs Way

Now the South Downs has officially become a National Park Authority, enjoying the scenery has never been better!It's been nearly a year since the South Downs became an official National Park area and less than a month since the official authority overseeing the land has gone live. A one-stop-shop for information about the land, the ever popular South Downs are teaming with wildlife and, of course, the famous South Downs Way along the length of the trust area.

Home to over 108,000 people and encompassing thriving market towns and villages, the South Downs National Park is well worth a visit. Great for walkers, hikers, equestrians, cyclists and campers there are so many sights to see and many pubs, B&Bs and campsites providing adequate rest stops along the way.

The South Downs National Park, spanning an enormous area from Winchester in the West all the way to Eastbourne in the East, offers an abundance of things to do and sights to see for all the family. Numerous events and shows are held at towns and villages year round, as well as markets and open farms. There so much to do you may wish to consider a good few days at least to enjoy the area, and what better way to enjoy the countryside than camping out under canvas?

The South Downs is one of the prettiest and most diverse of the UK's 15 National Parks and is home to numerous campsites both along the South Downs Way and throughout the National Park's 1,600 km2 land. Some of the countries most highly rated campsites such as Blackberry Wood fall within the Park's borders. The East side of the South Down National Park is home to more campsites than the Hampshire end, so you should be careful to plan your route accordingly.

Unlike Dartmoor, most of the South Downs land is cultivated farmland so wild camping is strictly prohibited. However, some good old fashioned manners may get you round the governmental red tape and politely asking the farmer or landowner's permission will often reward you with a no-frills hassle-free and legitimised campsite for the night. You will need to locate the farmhouse somewhere on the land and simply knock on the front door - this is often trickier than you might imagine however, as some farms on the Downs are very extensive and finding the owners might take a while. The golden rules of off-spec camping are to be respectful of the environment, don't leave anything behind and get up and go at first light (or at the very least after breakfast).

If you are planning on 'doing' the South Downs Way then you will more than likely need some lightweight kit for the journey, including a backpacking tent. Our top tip is to take plenty of water with you as water stops are few and far between.

Click here for a few kit ideas