CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY
NB: SDW ROUTE CHANGE; NOT NOW VIA WARNFORD. Link below for new route
Turn left at A32,
NEW ROUTE: turn left into Lippen Lane; adds about 100 yards but think safer crossing of A32.. Solid line. OLD ROUTE: DASHED LINE
OLD ROUTE: carry along for few hundred yards, then turn right, just passed 'George & Falcon' pub, up Hayden Lane.
The tarmac lane goes up quite steeply at first, then slight down over the old railway (railway is in a deep cutting so you might not realise !), before 1 mile gradual climb to Old Winchester Hill. It is not steep, but just goes on & on ! At the top, where a lane branches in from the left, go straight ahead to field gate. Walkers rejoin from the road to the right.
NEW ROUTE JOINS HERE
Full thumbnail without arrow to pot of gold!
There is then quite a steep, bumpy descent in tyre ruts to a gate at the bottom. If there are cows in field, they often mingle round the gate, so you may have to retrace back up to road, and go along road on top of ridge, rejoin SDW at Coombe.
At the bottom, follow tack on to farm 90' turn left at buildings taking you round, passed 'fishing lake'. At the small tarmac lane, turn right for hundred yards. SDW is 90' left turn up concrete track (which gets deceptively steeper as goes on !). In the top/left photo below, to the right is Salt Hill (see note further below !) just above Coombe. Photo bottom / on right of concrete track.
After the crest, reasonable grass, earth chalk, surface. At bridleway / footpath crossroads at line of trees, turn 90' right, good earth wide track.
Cross lane at Coombe (house does B&B I think, and stabling for horses ?). Take care for the first 20 yards after the lane as someone has laid deep loose shingle; I came off first time that it was done.
The track narrows, earth, mud if wet with many puddles, and slippery. After 150 yards, narrows more between hedge, and steepens, becomes v-shaped with roots, flints, ruts, tyre width ledges, and steepens. I usually walk as it is as quick. Indeed, I have only cycled all the way up once (must have felt ??!!). Whilst not all that long, combination of gradient, surface makes it ugh ! Probably ok if better without the v-gully etc. This climb is therefore my most unfavourite !
Photos do not seem to give true impression of gradient, surface etc. !
Tree roots, etc
Nearing the top, just out of sight !
At the top, emerging into the open beside a field, the SDW is then a wide grass track, but with many narrow tyre ruts, about a pedal crank deep ! I usually fall off along this stretch, or at least stop many times.
At a timber bar across, path goes to left of, then loose stone until the road at HMS Mercury (Former naval radio, navigation etc, now closed).
Annotated PANORAMA 270' taken from near here, Solent Cheesefoot Head round to Butser. Old Winchester Hill is the fields and hedge beyond the two left-most blue lines; it is not hill on horizon. file.
Salt Hill, HMS Mercury
At the tarmac road, turn 90' left. There is a stone track to the right of the road , but I usually stay on the tarmac. The road goes passed iron age mounds, hardly noticeable on the left behind fence.
before short right hand descent, take care at cross roads by fir trees, as you will be blind to any cars. Cross roads behind 'pole' in photo.
At road, go straight across, (middle left of photo below), SDW reverts to stone. Note that there is a bench on the left here, which is a very pleasant place for a stop to admire the view towards East Meon.
For next 1.25 miles, gradual (hardly noticeable) ascent on hard stone, earth, by edge of trees, opening out onto gravel. I enjoy riding this section the other way as it makes a quite fast descent with pedaling.
After a short (0.2 miles) section of tarmac, you come to a crossroads, bear left here, almost 90'.
Ride along tarmac road for 0.5 miles towards Butser (Radio mast).
Again there is a grass mud single track next to the road, but very rough due to use by cows etc.
As road bears sharp left to car park, SDW is path off the road to the right between bushes.
SDW skirts the top of Butser (Butser is highest point on South Downs, though as SDW does not go over top, not highest point on SDW which is Ditchling.
There is now a VERY FAST descent on wide open grass towards the A3 and QEP Visitors Centre. See VIDEO on my video page.
PHOTO SDW near the top of Butser looking towards A3, and Solent beyond.
Beware that there is a gate about 1/4 way down !! The steepish upper slopes for 100 yards or so beyond gate can have the odd rabbit hole so keep eyes open, though probably at speed you will fly over them !! Either go very slowly or very fast !! I have managed to cycle all the way up when feeling fit !
PHOTO Gate about 1/4 way down. The faint red line is a temporary fence for a 'fair' and is not usually there
PHOTO looking back up Butser; again red fence not usually there
Left photo is from top of Butser looking towards Winchester. The trees in middle on horizon are at Cheesefoot Head !
Second photo is SDW near the top of Butser looking towards A3, and Solent beyond.
Third photo is of gate about 1/4 way down. The faint red line is a temporary fence for a 'fair' and is not usually there.
Right photo is looking back up Butser; again red fence not usually there.
Another photo ! (added May 2007); near top, A3 just visible to right.
Join the road and bear right, going under A3, then turn off keft into car park for QEP Visitors Centre. (Cafe, toilets water etc).
There are also some photos on the going 'Westwards' pageNext page: Section 3 QEP to Harting