There are some fantastic places to mountain bike in the South Downs but one route that is known by many, both walkers and riders alike, is The South Downs Way which is a 100 mile off road trail running the entire length of the South Downs National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne. Most riders take between two to four days to ride it and for those super fit riders some do it in just one day.
On a crisp October weekend last year Caroline, from the Venture Out team, and a few friends had a short window of 24 hours so took it upon themselves to complete 50 miles of the route from West to East and what an amazing day it was.
The day started from Haslemere where we were picked up with our bikes for a short 50 minute transfer to Winchester to the start of the trail. The route is signposted at every turn so even if your map reading skills are questionable there is no chance of getting lost. The terrain was a complete mixture of gravel, grassland and muddy trails suitable for both mountain and gravel bikes. In total we climbed 1.513m over the day and it was totally worth it for the rewarding breath-taking views. Views to the Solent and on to the Isle of Wight, high heathlands and picturesque woodlands.
There were also some impressive ascents and descents, a highlight being the long descent down Buster Hill on open grassland, truly exhilarating!
When on the route we met walkers, cyclists and horse riders but everyone respected each other’s routes. We stuck to the well signposted bridleways and byways whilst the walkers followed all the public footpaths.
There are lots of places to refuel, we took a short lunch stop at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (23 miles in) which serves delicious locally sourced food, the best smoothies, as well as providing a water refill station. Later in the day when we were in need of some more energy we stopped at a gorgeous old dairy farm near Cocking called Flint Barn Café which serves delicious hot and cold food and definitely the best chocolate brownies in the South Downs!
The end of the day saw us ride to a gorgeous quaint bed and breakfast, Crows Hall Farm, just on the outskirts of Chichester. When we arrived our wonderful host Amanda showed us where we could store our bikes safely and handed us a cold beer – the perfect end to the day! Hot showers all round and we spent the evening enjoying delicious food at one of the quaint local pubs before hitting the sack early.
I would definitely recommend this route for all keen walkers and mountain bikers, it ticks every box for what adventure should be - one for the to do list in 2022!