Bradt's (www.bradtguides.com) latest book in its Slow series - Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park - complements the South Downs officially becoming Britain's newest National Park on 1st April 2011; the tenth to be designated in England. Only an hour from London, the park extends from eastern Hampshire to the sheer cliffs at Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, and includes much of the High Weald of West Sussex too. It already receives more than twice the visitor numbers of any other national park in the country.
Author Tim Locke describes the decision as being hugely popular among local people. "There's been a campaign to raise the South Downs to national park status for decades. This will help preserve the very special character of the Downs and the Weald - an area that has miraculously kept its deeply rural character, and help promote the right sort of sustainable tourism that is very key to the Slow concept." Locke has lived in Lewes for 15 years and he was happy to discover how many new places and experiences there were to discover. "This is a landscape where nature and human activity strike a particularly satisfying balance. Yet it's an area where a guidebook can really help a reader pick his or her way round carefully. You certainly won't get the picture by attempting to charge around the whole thing."
The book's firm emphasis on Slow tourism is all about finding reasons to linger and savouring what makes an area special. Locke recounts his 'Slow travels' with huge affection, chats to enthusiasts such as archaeologists and naturalists, points out places you can take courses on countryside skills, finds museums where you can volunteer at weekends and meticulously describes ten of his favourite local walks. His book winkles out eco-friendly accommodation and explores ways of pottering about without a car. He presents information in a user-friendly way; rather than attempt to cover everything, he picks out the essence of the area, with enough space to give a readable and informative description of what readers will see. No payments are made for inclusion in the guide; if it's in the book, it's because the author likes it.
The annual organised walk along the full length of the South Downs Way takes place over the nine days from 10th to 28th June this year. This will be the 32nd year of this popular event and the walk this time will be from Eastbourne to Winchester. Full details and booking forms are available on the official website - www.southdownsway.com.
Title: Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park
Author: Tim Locke
Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides
Publication: April 20 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84162 343 6
Photo - Walkers on the South Downs Way - Ian McGowan; www.southofenglandpictures.co.uk