Southern England may be densely populated, but it is always possible to find unexpected oases of tranquility. For those who seek it out, the England of rose-covered cottages, country pubs and quiet churchyards is still alive and well. One of the glories of England is its network of long-distance footpaths, ancient tracks that have served the inhabitants since the Celtic, pre-Christian era. Hiking here is not an escape from culture but an immersion in it. Paths in southern England include the famous 119-mile Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury, immortalized by Chaucer. The South Downs Way also begins in Winchester but runs 100 miles southeast to the iconic white chalk cliffs overlooking the Channel in East Sussex.

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