CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY
There are many paths and signs in QEP, and on the BHF rides and at other times, people seemed to get lost.
Whilst walkers take a path to the left of Visitors Centre, I advise cyclists to follow tarmac road to the right of Centre, which then after 100 yards bends round to left . Then, after the 'pay sign', see PHOTO below
either follow tarmac or bear right to follow path (roots and mud) through trees for 200 yards rejoining main track when road hairpin bends to left, then take wide gravel track straight on , passing either side of timber bar gate. NB on ride May19, noted that the path in trees has stone surface and signed as 'footpath', so now SDW cyclists keep to tarmac.
For the next 1 mile, the track is hard gravel, gentle climb (again this makes a good fast pedaling descent when ridden the other way ! ); there is then a steepish descent with right bend, so can be slippery as loose stone. At the bottom, there is a vehicle & pedestrian gate, though consider that there is sufficient distance to stop before them.
THUMBNAILS of above
PHOTO is of Car park, Buriton Hill, looking west towards descent from QEP, and gate ! NB: steel height restrictor installed next to road (2.1m high?)
PHOTO is look east of SDW and tarmac lane. At the car park, cross over lane, follow tarmac lane opposite;
After about 200 yards, there is a very short steepish section which can catch you out if not expecting !. This continues for about 0.3 miles before changing to hard gravel after the cottage on right. It may seem that track goes off to right, but keep straight ahead, with high hedge on your right. PHOTO below.
At this point, the London - Portsmouth main railway tunnels underneath you; there is a footpath to the left which goes above tunnel entrance.
The gravel continues for the next 0.7 miles, with two short ups and two short downs. There can be several large puddles (note July 2011 filled in) almost entire width if it has been raining. Soon after passing under electricity pylons, next to Coulters Dean farm , reverts to tarmac for next 0.8 miles. On this section there is a short steepish ascent, then a good quite fast descent to Sunwood farm; this latter part is also used as road to Ditcham Park School, so there can be cars etc, and the hedge makes any oncoming traffic blind, so take care !
PHOTO on left: near Ditcham, bear left (right is to School). PHOTO right, I have shown Sunwood Farm, Harting Hill.
At the farm, lane & SDW bears 90' left, but then SDW is gravel stone track 90' to right just after bend. I have seen riders hurtle on down the tarmac lane before realising as they go down the hill, that they have missed turning !
HAMPSHIRE / SUSSEX BORDER This is at top of the slight climb after Sunwood farm, about where top blue arrow on left of above photo. (I can see this part from my bedroom window in winter only as leaves obscure view in summer)
For next 1.5 miles, it is a quite fast section as far as B2146 just south of South Harting; it is firm ash, stone, though first part slippery if wet. Good view of Uppark House and Petersfield.
However, I advise caution when crossing large puddles about 50 yards after crossing over tarmac lane with house on right, stable on left. PHOTO below is approaching tarmac lane, SDW goes off at slightly to right of centre, to right of stable.
Full size thumbnail photo without annotation
October 2008: the puddle has been filled in with stone and leveled to quite a good surface.
(old photos etc deleted)
Cross over the B2146 Harting road; the crossing is near the top of a hill so take care as can be blind to cars. The SDW narrows down to single track, on muddy earth, with the odd tree root, flints. Beside one short section, there is a steep drop to the left down to a road; the path at that point narrows and can be slippery if wet. After this, the path rises very gradually through the trees to cross over B2141 Harting to Chichester road. Again take care crossing, the exit off the road opposite twists between gateposts, and is narrow. After a few yards, the path emerges on to Harting Down, a wide open grassed space with a car park and good views, and a bench. A good place for a break !.
PANORAMA PHOTO annotated Butser to Cocking; taken from Poets Stone, Ashford Hangers, nr Steep, approx. 1 mile north of Petersfield (stone is in memory of local poet Edward Thomas, died in about 1918)
There are also some photos on the going 'Westwards' page