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Mountain Biking on the South Downs

Day, half-day and shorter routes around the South Downs

South Downs Mountain Biking Routes Guide

Information and maps for tackling the whole of the South Downs Way as well as 26 fantastic individual routes around the South Downs. These are are day, half-day and shorter routes around the Downs and are distributed along the length and breadth of the Downs (see map below).

The book breaks the South Downs Way Route down in to three stages, with 'how to get there' information for each leg. As with all the route descriptions in this guide, special attention is paid to the nature of the terrain encountered as well as the major climbs and descents involved and any particular hazards to be aware of. Facilities and services en route are also included.

The routes are designed for maximum enjoyment of the mountain biking potential available on the South Downs, hence there is some overlap and repetition in the use of particular stretches of bridleway and byway between several of the routes. Roads are avoided wherever practical, although in many cases brief stretches of road here and there can link up some great off-road trails.

See below for route details

Book Details:
ISBN: 978-1852846459
Written by Peter Edwards
Published by Cicerone, 2011
240 pages
Book Size is a compact 12cm x 17.5cm

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RRP £14.95

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The Mountain Biking Routes

Map showing the approximate recommended starting points for eachsection as indicated in the book.
Click on a marker for route information.


Routes are graded easy, medium, hard.

All sections and routes come with marked up Ordnance Survey mapping and clear text descriptions.

Riding the South Downs Way

1: The South Downs Way Day 1: Winchester to Cocking

Distance 56.5km. Grade Hard

South Downs Mountain Bike Routes Photo1Day 1 of the South Downs Way off road epic.

2: The South Downs Way Day 2: Cocking to Ditchling Beacon

Distance 55.5km. Grade Hard

Day 2 of the South Downs Way off road epic.

3: The South Downs Way Day 3: Ditchling Beacon to Eastbourne

Distance 44km. Grade Hard

Day 3 of the South Downs Way off road epic.

Routes around Winchester   

Route 4: New Alresford – Warnford Circuit

Distance 29km. Grade Medium

One of the least hilly rides in the book, taking in a swathe of gently rolling Downland east of Winchester.

Route 5: Winchester – Gander Down Circuit

Distance 30.5km. Grade Hard

This route takes to the gentle gradients of Downland immediately east of Winchester. Good views south to the Solent and Isle of Wight.

South Downs Mountain Bike Routes Photo 2Route 6: Winchester to Petersfield (and return variants)

Distance 52km. Grade Hard/Very Hard

Includes a number of tough climbs and exciting descents

Routes around Chichester and Petersfield

Route 7: Westdean Woods and Cocking Down

Distance 21.5km or 26.5km. Grade Hard

Well maintained bridleways and byways with some short road sections. Good selection of climbs and descents.

Route 8: Heyshott Down and Charlton Forest

Distance 18km. Grade Hard

Tough climbs, several excellent descents, plenty of forest trails and a downland village or two.

Route 9: Petersfield – Beacon Hill Circuit

Distance 38.5km. Grade  Hard

This route takes in a sizeable loop around the Downs south of Petersfield. The route has a fair amount of road sections with most being on quiet country lanes.

Route 10: Chichester – Charlton Forest Circuit

Distance 42km. Grade Hard

Lots of climbs and descents and a sublime section along the Downland ridge.

Route 11: Petersfield – Singleton Forest Circuit

Distance 54.5km. Grade Very Hard

A long and tough circular route, includes one of the finest stretches of the South Downs Way.

South Downs Mountain Bike Routes Photo 3

Routes around Arundel and Worthing

Route 12: Amberley and Houghton Forest

Distance 15km. Grade Medium

A fairly short route centred around Houghton Forest  to the north west of Arundel

Route 13: Worthing – Chanctonbury Ring Circuit

Distance 25km. Grade Medium

This route goes through beautiful countryside and there are fine views across the Downs, Low Weald and the Channel coast. It also takes in the the Iron Age hill forts of Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring, as well as fine Downland ridges, combes and woodland.

Route 14: Worthing – Springhead Hill Circuit

Distance 41km. Grade Hard

Great views riding through lovely countryside. Three tough climbs ensure you will work for your rewards.

Route 15: Arundel – Graffham Down Circuit (and Amberley variant)

Distance 47.5 or 36km. Grade Very Hard

This route  weaves its way around the Downs to the north west of Arundel. Much of the trials pass through woodland hangers and forestry plantations.

Route 16: Lancing – Amberley Mount Circuit   

Distance 50.5km. Grade Very Hard

Lots of ups and downs on this route which starts at Shoreham. Great views in a wonderful setting.

South DownsM Mountain Bike Routes Photo 4

Routes around Brighton and Lewes

Route 17: Castle Hill Circuit

Distance 16.5km. Grade Medium

This superlative, short, sharp circuit is centred on Castle Hill on the Downs to the east if Brighton.

Route 18: Brighton – Lewes Circuit

Distance 29.5. Grade hard

A challenging and varied ride that takes in Downland ridges and woodland tracks.

Route 19: Brighton – Truleigh Hill Circuit

Distance 29.5km. Grade Hard

A fairly gentle start leads to a rollercoaster of a ride. Tough climbs and fast descents.

Route 20: Devil’s Dyke – Blackcap Circuit

Distance 44km. Grade Hard

A grand loop centred on Brighton, swinging around Devil’s Dyke and Blackcap.

Route 21: Brighton to Eastbourne

Distance 42.5km. Grade Hard

A fairly tough but glorious ride on varied terrain, including woodland tracks and Downland ridges with very little on road riding.

South Downs Mountain Bike Routes Photo 5Route 22: Brighton – Ouse Valley Circuit

Distance 43km. Grade Hard

A challenging but hugely rewarding ride, taking in a variety of terrain.

Routes around Eastbourne   

Route 23: Friston Forest Circuit

Distance 22km or 14.5km. Grade Medium

Hours of improvised fun can be had in Friston Forest, but this route is more of a circuit around the forest – a short, sweet woodland ride with fine views .

Route 24: Seaford – Firle Beacon Circuit

Distance 28.5km. Grade Medium

This is one of the easier routes in the book, and makes for a really enjoyable ride that covers a lot of distance fairly rapidly.

Route 25: Eastbourne – Cuckmere Valley Circuit

Distance 35km. Grade Hard

Chalk ridges, woodland tracks and Downland villages.  Four big climbs and descents.

Route 26: Eastbourne – Firle Beacon Circuit

Distance 46km. Grade Very Hard

With seven major climbs this is a tough but varied route taking in Downland ridges, woodland tracks and picturesque villages.



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