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“A beautiful run over the South Downs National Park with sea and hill views.”
— Adopt These Trails!
Featured Race Mar 18, 2018
No closures, but during lambing and at other times with sheep in the fields, dogs must be kept on leads.
This route takes in five high points around the historic county town of Lewes - Black Cap, Kingston Ridge, Firle Beacon and Mount Caburn. The high points command views north over the Weald and south to the English Channel. As a marathon it is unusual in allowing the whole course to be seen from many points around the route. It also passes close to a number of sites associated with the British Bloomsbury in Sussex Group - eg Charleston Farmhouse, Monk's House in Rodmell; and close to the world-renowned Glyndebourne Opera House in Glynde. The marathon race itself finishes in the local brewery yard, Harveys and Sons, which has been in existence since 1790.
Features: Birding — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Need to Know
The top of the downs is often windy. There is a cafe in the Youth Hostel at the half way point - and a train station there for completing a half marathon.
Some sections can be muddy in winter - some tracks can get dry and pitted in summer.
This route follows the South Downs Way for a significant part of the middle section which is well sign-posted. The start up to Black Cap and the final 7 miles from Bo Peep bostal ownards are not on the South Downs and would need to be navigated with a map. There is also a deviation from the South Downs Way in the first half to take in the Castle Hill Nature Reserve.
Flora & Fauna
Sheep and cattle graze on some sections - and Exmoor ponies in Castle Hill Nature reserve. Skylarks on the downland tops in spring and summer.
History & Background
These tracks over the downs and under the downs have been used for many hundreds of years as sheep and carting tracks - and are the original pathways across the downs. The final ascent takes in Mount Caburn which is the site of an Iron Age fort, the oldest known historic settlement in the local area.