Take to the skies in the South Downs

England's newest National Park has lots of activities on land and along the coast, but did you know that the South Downs National Park also offers a whole host of activities you take part in, up in the skies?

England’s newest National Park, the South Downs is home to an array of fantastic market towns, rolling hills and ancient forests, not to mention the iconic chalky white cliffs of the Seven Sisters – so there’s plenty to see, do and explore for all the family.

But it’s not all about activities on land and along the coast, the South Downs National Park also offers a whole host of activities you take part in, up in the skies.

Gliding

The South Downs offers the perfect location for a spot of gliding – with the shape and location of the Downs creating ideal conditions for catching the required updraft. In fact, the high flying activity was first launched here back in 1909 when 16-year-old Gordon England took off in a Weiss glider from Amberley Mount and rose 100ft in the air in the first-ever recorded soaring flight.

Today, there are a host of gliding schools and clubs offering tuition in hang gliding, paragliding, and more. Devil’s Dyke is known as one of Europe’s finest sites for paragliding and hang gliding but there are many more sites to explore.

Ridge Soaring

Whilst gliding, if you can position yourself in the right place at the right angle, it’s possible to follow a ridge line without losing any height, being carried upwards to about 500 or 600 feet to the crest of a hill. This is known as ridge soaring.

The South Downs National Park’s hills such as Devil’s Dyke and Mount Caburn are particularly popular amongst ridge soarers of all ages and abilities.

Of course, when you’re ridge soaring or taking part in any airborne activity, safety is of the upmost importance. There are a number of clubs and schools around the South Downs offering professional lessons in gliding, hand gliding, and paragliding. You can also arrange a tandem flight if you’d like to enjoy the exhilarating experience without the hard work.

So take to the skies, explore the skies over the South Downs and wave to passers-by.

Kite Flying

If you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, why not try a spot of kite flying? With an abundance of windswept hills, the South Downs National Park is perfect for kite flying - a fun and affordable day out for all the family.

There are countless optimum kite flying spots in the South Downs including Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon, which is the highest point in East Sussex.

What’s more, the South Downs is also home to the annual Brighton Kite Festival, which features team and individual displays, children’s workshops, and dramatic kite battles. Trust us, you won’t want to miss it!

Hot Air Balloons

To take in the National Park’s spectacular views in style, you can also enjoy a leisurely hot air balloon ride during the long, summer evenings. Safely inside your basket and in the hands of a highly experienced pilot, take in unrivalled aerial views without working up a sweat! The perfect, unforgettable day out for all the family.

View all #GetOutside Guides