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The Great South Downs Sit Down

View from the newly-installed Saddlescombe Bench

Many walkers tell Friends of the South Downs that there is very little provision to sit down and rest along the South Downs Way, which runs from Winchester to Eastbourne. Today, 19 May 2021, marks the day we proudly reveal the first bench in our ongoing project to provide seats at intervals along the entire length of the iconic route.

The first bench has been installed at East Hill above Saddlescombe Farm on National Trust land. FOSD Patron Lord Egremont cut the ribbon to launch the campaign. Vice-Chairman Andrew Lovett addressed the assembled group of representatives from the NT, South Downs National Park Authority and Trustees of FOSD, at a small, Covid safe, celebration.

Chainsaw sculptor Chris Bain / Photo by Dan Fagan – National Trust

After first gaining permission from the South Downs National Park Authority, we turned to the National Trust, as a major landowner along the route, to provide the initial sites. The first benches are being carved by local chainsaw sculptor Chris Bain. Each bench will be made of sustainable, locally sourced oak and feature a small hidden downland creature. Benches will be individually designed to blend into and enhance the setting in a sympathetic way.

Caroline Douglas, the FOSD Trustee leading The Great South Downs Sit Down project, said, “we are so grateful to Jane Cecil, the NT General Manager and the NT Rangers for all their help and enthusiasm in getting this project off the ground and to Chris Bain for producing such a beautiful bench. More progress has been made with finding sites, so watch out for other benches appearing over the coming months.”

When you visit one of our benches, please share pictures onto our Facebook or our Twitter page! If you find any spots along the South Downs Way that might be a perfect place for one of our benches, please contact us.

Bench dedication ceremony, 19 May 2021. Photo credit: National Trust