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South Downs Way Itinerary. Day 3

South Downs Way itinerary

Having reached Buriton at the end of my second day’s walking, my South Downs Way itinerary for day 3 was Buriton to Cocking. And I was joined at the start line by an old friend, Emma, from school who was going to walk the rest of the way with me. Emma has many great qualities. She’s a farmer’s wife and a publican’s daughter so there is literally nothing that phases her. We also backpacked around India together in the 1980s. You couldn’t ask for a better walking companion.

South Downs Way itinerary

Day 3. Buriton to Cocking

The day starts with a nice gentle meander. By now, I seemed to have settled into my stride and my aches and pains were surprisingly pretty much gone. The trail running shoes I had changed to were much better than my hiking boots and I felt full of beans. Even my backpack felt fine.

© Natural Earth Data © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap. Click on map to go to Strava

On day 3, there are a few ups and downs at the start but no major hills and you just bimble along. But more excitingly, within the first 5 km, you cross into Sussex. It’s not clearly marked and is easy to miss but at a crossroads, there is a signpost and if you look carefully, it says Sussex Border Path down the side. Yippee. I did a small, celebratory dance.

South Downs Way itinerary

Our 5 and 10 km breaks were both on the verge of narrow grassy lanes and at one, we met two lads doing the South Downs Way heading to Winchester. To say they looked broken was an understatement which was a bit alarming but they were trying to squeeze it into just 4 days! I hope they made it. One of them said his feet were now entirely made of Compeed.

Harting Down

As you walk on, you catch a glimpse of the Vandalian Tower at Uppark before you cross the B2141 just south of South Harting and climb a rocky path to the Harting Down car park and beyond. The views here are spectacular and get better and better. The official South Downs Way itinerary takes you around Beacon Hill but you can go up and over, and our guidebook says it was more fun to do so! I’m not sure about “fun” as it feels like a vertical climb, but as always, you are rewarded at the top. There is a distance marker that tells you you are 69 miles from Eastbourne and you can see out to Portsmouth, Chichester Harbour, and the Trundle. You feel on top of the world!

South Downs Way Harting Down

From here, you drop down again until the path starts to climb through woodland. There’s a rather underwhelming memorial to a German airman and a short distance later you come to the Devil’s Jumps, a series of Bronze Age burial grounds that are really remarkable. Put your backpack down and take a little look.

Devil's Jumps

From there, you walk along the side of the Monkton Estate before the trail gradually opens out along the ridge of Cocking Down. Monkton was built in 1902 for Edward James to the designs of Edwin Lutyens. It was redecorated in the 1930s in a style that was greatly influenced by Salvador Dali with Surrealist art and artefacts, including a pair of sofas designed in the shape of Mae West’s lips. It’s now privately owned and not open to the public and you can only catch tiny glimpses of it. From here, it’s quite a long stretch along the Downs until you eventually see a large bolder. I was excitedly looking forward to this – it’s one of 13 designed in 2002 as part of a chalkstone trail. In the event, it’s a nice bolder but not quite what I was expecting.

South Downs Way Cocking

From here, you drop down to the Cadence café at Cocking where the South Downs Way crosses the A286. You’ll notice the distinctive yellow windows of the Cowdray Estate. The Cadence café is excellent and this is your first and only water station on this section of the South Downs Way itinerary.

South Downs Way Cadence cafe

Cocking Manor Farm campsite is on the hill opposite less than 1 km away. This was our campsite for the night. Let’s just say it’s very basic. You have been warned. Although we did have a great view from our tent. 

Manor Farm campsite

From the campsite, it’s not too far to walk through the fields to the local pub, The Blue Bell, for a meal, and Wi-Fi and we enjoyed gin and an amazing steak! But that night it rained and we learnt that our tents were not as waterproof as we thought. It was a pretty grim night but we woke the next day to a beautiful sunrise and a great view!

Cocking Manor Farm campsite


  • Crossing into West Sussex
  • The Devil’s Jumps
  • Views from Harting Down and Beacon Hill


  • Route distance 17.36 km
  • Elevation 476 m
  • Water stations at the Cadence Café near Cocking and at the campsite
  • Nowhere on route to eat
  • Car Park at Harting Down
  • Cadence café at Cocking
  • Pub in nearby Cocking
  • Limited supplies from the farm shop

If you like this post about day 3 of the South Downs Way walk, you may find the following helpful:

Walking the South Downs Way. Day 2. 

Walking the South Downs Way. Day 4. 

An Overview of the South Downs Way

Discover the South Downs  

Planning your South Downs Way Walk 

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