Mountain Biking on the South Downs
A guide to mountain biking (MTB) routes on the South Downs of Hampshire and Sussex, between Winchester, Brighton and Eastbourne. The 26 routes described in the book take in roller coaster rides, dedicated woodland singletrack and great downhills. Rides are graded for all abilities with information on local facilities and MTB gear and preparation.
Seasonsexcellent all year round, with each season bringing its own experiences but prolonged rainy periods can turn the chalky soil into highly-adhesive mud
CentresEastbourne, Alfriston, Seaford, Lewes, Newhaven, Brighton, Worthing, Arundel, Amberley, Chichester, Petersfield, Cocking, East Meon, East Dean, New Alresford, Winchester
Difficultyroutes primarily aimed at experienced mountain bikers with a good level of fitness; most manageable for the less experienced/fit with extra time; graded by length: short, half-day and day; as well as strenuousness: medium, hard and very hard
Must Seeendless chalk bridleways along Downland ridges with great views in every direction; challenging hills and exhilarating descents; great dedicated singletrack at Friston Forest, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Wild Park and Stanmer Park; excellent pubs and cafés for re-fuelling
The South Downs are a mountain biker's paradise. The routes in this guidebook take cyclists over roller coaster ridges with superb views of the English Channel; weave around dedicated woodland singletrack; give the buzz of fantastic downhills and offer varying degrees of challenge across a beautiful and diverse landscape.
The 26 routes in this book are graded (blue, red and black) for a range of abilities, and grouped into 6 sections: The South Downs Way National Trail (the whole route described in 3 stages) and routes around Winchester, Chichester and Petersfield, Arundel and Worthing, Brighton and Lewes and Eastbourne. They range from 14km to 57km in length and up to 95% off road, providing plenty of challenge for any mountain biker.
With each route graded according to length and difficulty, it is easy to find specific challenges for varying abilities.
All routes are clearly illustrated on OS maps with numbered stages linking the route descriptions to maps. Extensive information is provided on facilities in the area including bike shops and mechanics, cafés, pubs and shops - plus useful information on accommodation and transport.
About the routes in this guide
Getting there and getting around
When to go
Rights of way and other users
How to use this guide
The South Downs Way National Trail
The South Downs Way: Introduction
Route 1 The South Downs Way Day 1: Winchester to Cocking
Route 2 The South Downs Way Day 2: Cocking to Ditchling Beacon
Route 3 The South Downs Way Day 3: Ditchling Beacon to Eastbourne
Routes around Winchester
Route 4 New Alresford – Warnford Circuit
Route 5 Winchester – Gander Down Circuit
Route 6 Winchester to Petersfield (and return variants)
Routes around Chichester and Petersfield
Route 7 Westdean Woods and Cocking Down
Route 8 Heyshott Down and Charlton Forest
Route 9 Petersfield – Beacon Hill Circuit
Route 10 Chichester – Charlton Forest Circuit
Route 11 Petersfield – Singleton Forest Circuit
Routes around Arundel and Worthing
Route 12 Amberley and Houghton Forest
Route 13 Worthing – Chanctonbury Ring Circuit
Route 14 Worthing – Springhead Hill Circuit
Route 15 Arundel – Graffham Down Circuit (and Amberley alternative)
Route 16 Lancing – Amberley Mount Circuit
Routes around Brighton and Lewes
Route 17 Castle Hill Circuit
Route 18 Brighton – Lewes Circuit
Route 19 Brighton – Truleigh Hill Circuit
Route 20 Devil’s Dyke – Blackcap Circuit
Route 21 Brighton to Eastbourne
Route 22 Brighton – Ouse Valley Circuit
Routes around Eastbourne
Route 23 Friston Forest Circuit
Route 24 Seaford – Firle Beacon Circuit
Route 25 Eastbourne – Cuckmere Valley Circuit
Route 26 Eastbourne – Firle Beacon Circuit
Appendix A: Camping and accommodation
Appendix B: Water points along the South Downs Way
Appendix C: Bike shops/mechanics
Appendix D: Useful contacts
Ordnance Survey provides map coverage of the South Downs in 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scales (see www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/leisure).
The most up-to-date 1:50,000 scale Ordnance Survey mapping is used for the routes in this guidebook. At the time of going to press, the information on the maps included in this guide was accurate. A note of caution: the status of some rights of way may be changed over time. Most often – but not always – cyclists have been granted greater access rights with footpaths and other rights of way being ‘upgraded’ to permissive bridleways. Older copies of maps may contain information that is at odds with what is included here.
Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer series
Winchester, New Alresford & East Meon – Explorer 132
Haslemere & Petersfield, Midhurst & Selbourne – Explorer 133
Meon Valley, Portsmouth, Gosport & Fareham – Explorer 119
Chichester & the Downs, South Harting & Selsey – Explorer 120
Arundel & Pulborough, Worthing & Bognor Regis – Explorer 121
Brighton & Hove, Lewes & Burgess Hill – Explorer 122
Eastbourne & Beachy Head, Newhaven, Seaford, Hailsham & Heathfield – Explorer 123
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger series
Winchester & Basingstoke – Landranger 185
Chichester & The South Downs – Landranger 197
Brighton & Lewes – Landranger 198
Eastbourne & Hastings – Landranger 199
Harvey Maps publish a lightweight, waterproof 1:40,000 single sheet map showing the whole of the SDW (see www.harveymaps.co.uk)
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Since moving to Scotland from the south of England in 2006, Peter has developed a passion for the Hebrides. He lives at Rhenigidale on the Isle of Harris with his wife, Fiona and their Labradors, Dougal and Mara.View Articles and Books by Peter Edwards
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