From kayaking river valleys, to enjoying world-class English wines, the South Downs National Park’s new guide celebrates the area’s history, food and drink, and adventure opportunities.
The brochure, called the English National Park Experience Collection, has been produced with the support of VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund and alongside eight other National Parks in England.
The collection is now being marketed to travel trade operators as the South Downs and other National Parks seek to build awareness among an international audience.
“Experiential tourism where visitors want to live, breathe and feel part of the place they are staying”
Katharine Beer, who leads sustainable tourism in the South Downs National Park, said: “The South Downs is a world-class protected landscape in the heart of one of Britain’s busiest regions, but it’s clear there’s still work to be done to let people know we are here.
“We’re really excited to be launching this collection as we look to build the profile of the South Downs among independent and small group travel operators, both overseas and at home in the UK. Each bookable experience has been carefully chosen to harness the growing demand for experiential tourism where visitors want to live, breathe and feel part of the place they are staying.
“Each experience is supported by a local accommodation provider and it’s very much aim at supporting the National Park’s diverse accommodation offer. Our ultimate aim is to open up new markets, help tourism to grow sustainably and to contribute to the vibrancy of our local communities.”
Margaret Paren, chair of the South Downs National Park and also National Parks England, recently collected anaccolade from VisitEngland, which awarded England’s National Parks the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award’ for the new tourism programme. Previous winners include Her Majesty the Queen, Sir Paul McCartney, and the 70,000 Games Makers from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Paren added: “This coveted award is particularly special in our 70th anniversary year when the UK’s National Parks celebrate the founding legislation that paved the way for these treasured landscapes.”
The eight experiences available in the South Downs are:
Paddle the South Downs: Submerse yourself in the South Downs National Park by exploring it on water. Paddle past plenty of wildlife away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and get a different perspective on the historic and classically English villages.
Sparkling South Downs – Grape and Grain: Set among the rolling hills of the South Downs are wineries producing world-class sparkling wines, classic English breweries and exciting craft gin distilleries. Join a luxury tour, hosted by a local drinks expert, to explore the region and its wine.
Jane Austen – The Dancing Years: cultural experience exploring the life of the world-famous author, Jane Austen. Visit her birthplace, the “cradle of her genius”, and the church where her father was rector. Trace the people mentioned in her letters in beautiful Hampshire villages.
Sparkling South Downs – Hampshire Tours: A chauffeured tour of the sparkling wine vineyards and wineries of the South Downs National Park region. Meet the winemakers to see how the region is at the heart of the rapidly-growing production of sparkling wine from the chalk soils of England.
Sparkling South Downs – Fizz on Foot: Take in stunning views on a guided walk over grassy slopes and along the river bank in the South Downs. Enjoy a ‘Wine-Maker’s Lunch’ and tour at a local award-winning vineyard and meet the winemakers to take part in tutored tastings of the wines.
Hills, Heath, Hops and Hampers: With an experienced local guide leading the way, discover the fascinating history and geology of the area while listening to the birdsong. Enjoy stunning views, a delicious picnic and a visit to a micro-brewery.
Charleston – Home of Art and Ideas: A guided tour of Charleston, an internationally renowned historic house, garden and art gallery preserved as a time capsule. Discover the liberal story behind this family home’s rich history.
South Downs – People, Place and Produce: Meet the people and producers who live and work within the National Park and find out why the chalk land is so special. Enjoy a cider tutorial and a brewery tour.
The English National Park Experience Collection can be found at nationalparkexperiences.co.uk