All about the South Downs Way
Situated between Eastbourne and Winchester, the South Downs Way is a designated National Trail which meanders 101 miles through some of Sussex and Hampshire’s most stunning countryside.
Long gone are the days when we plan our car and motorcycle journeys using paper maps and large format map books. So, what's the best modern-day option to plan that perfect road trip?
I wonder how many people even own a spiral bound road atlas these days – maybe I would be pleasantly surprised. But even if you do own one, how often do you actually flick through the pages working out the best route for your drive?
Like most people, I tend to head to Google Maps or TomTom when I’m hitting the road – whether I’m heading on a day out to visit a friend, or to a campsite for a weekend away.
That is until I’m off on a proper road trip…
and I like to go on those as often as possible.
A road trip, to me, is an excursion that is primarily about travelling by road to visit lots of places – whether that be one day out visiting three or four spots, or a week travelling a long an iconic route or stopping off in a different place each night.
Exploring Great Britain’s nooks and crannies by car and motorcycle is by far one of my favourite ways to spend a long weekend, week, or even longer. And for those I always grab one of my favourite OS Maps – the green OS Road Maps – to plan my escape.
They might be a “zoomed out” OS Map, but they include everything you need for a road trip, including primary road destinations, all kinds of roads with colour classifications, notes on ferry crossings and toll bridges, and easy-to-spot icons for National Parks, beaches, tourist spots and information.
And, because they are OS Maps, they also include contour information.
When I’m planning a road trip – such as the iconic North Coast 500 route in the very north of Scotland or something a bit more bespoke – I like nothing more than opening out a paper map on my dining table, studying it, and taking a highlighter and green fine liner to it to mark up the best looking roads, trailheads, viewpoints, and campsites.
The fact that, even though it’s scaled back in terms of what most people consider “Ordnance Survey mapping”, I still get everything I need, including contour lines and terrain shading, so I can plot the best route for my trip.
I just love to get a real sense of what my trip might look like – and work out how long I might need in any given area.
It might sound odd, but road trips for me are part of slow and mindful travel; I love to spend time enjoying road and the scenery it takes me through, stopping regularly to admire the view and learn something about the area I’m in.
The planning of road trips using paper maps might be much more time consuming and involved than using an online map of one type or another, but it’s honestly much nicer to travel a route that you’ve chosen rather than allowing your satnav to decide where you are going.
If you’re looking for a good place to start for guaranteed amazing road tripping here in the UK, I recommend the north of Scotland (the iconic NC500 or something else – there isn’t any bad scenery up there!), or down in the South West like Devon and Cornwall where there are beaches and moorland views galore. Plus any of GB's 15 National Parks.
And if you don’t own the OS Road Map for your local area, I would highly recommend treating yourself to one – you never know what interesting things you might find!