CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY
(See bottom of previous page for PANORAMA PHOTO Butser to Cocking)
Pass through the lower gate, follow the path along the edge of the hill. This is a very pleasant stretch, on grass, with good views to the north. Photo below left
The path then descends, can be quite fast, on good grass [photo above right] , then passes between thorny scrub bushes, changing to chalk. This can be rutted and slippery with ruts crossing, running out, before opening out onto a wide-open grassed area of downland. This area is sometimes fenced off for sheep grazing, in which case there are extra gates to pass through. In the dip, there is a pile of stones with a post on top. [Photo below ] See VIDEO on video page
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There is a bridlepath that goes straight ahead up to the top of Beacon Hill. It is very steep, though offers a good 360’ view from the top. It is not cyclable, and is not the SDW. The SDW is diverted around due to erosion. If you want to see the view from the top, it is probably easier to approach it off the SDW from the eastside of the hill where the path to the top is easier.
The SDW skirts around Beacon
Hill so bear right after the stone, (diagonal path in photo
above left), passed small tree, then onto chalk. It may be tempting to take a shortcut to the
right before the stone, but although shorter distance, the grass is softer and
longer, so in the need it is takes longer and is harder riding. The SDW then
changes back to chalk on a slight climb again changing back to earth.
About 100yards after a gate, the SDW turns sharp (90+’) left; if you miss this turn, then you will come to a pair of gates after a few yards; that track carries on turning into a tarmac drive to a private house, though still a bridleway.
There is a small nature reserve to the right. Then, as the SDW veers away from Beacon Hill, there is a short rough, flint chalk steepish descent. (walk to top of Beacon Hill just as start to descend). At the bottom, take the right hand track next to the fence, up Pen Hill. Pen Hill Although short it is a steep climb, and I have to admit that I have never cycled up it. The descent down the other side is again steep, but on grass, with a left hand bend with slight adverse camber. Again, I have to admit that I have never cycled up that side either. See VIDEO on video page
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At this point, there is a narrow
path to the right round the edge of the field or bear slightly left for a tack
which runs along the bottom of the small bank. I am
not sure which is the official SDW, probably the narrow upper path, but the track is better. If following
the path, then at some small trees after 30 yards, with lots of roots, and a dip, then keep to
the narrow path. If you opted for the track, then at this point, again after 30 yards, rejoin the
narrow path, otherwise you will end up going down …..
At this point, there is a narrow path to the right round the edge of the field or bear slightly left for a tack which runs along the bottom of the small bank. I am not sure which is the official SDW, probably the narrow upper path, but the track is better. If following the path, then at some small trees after 30 yards, with lots of roots, and a dip, then keep to the narrow path. If you opted for the track, then at this point, again after 30 yards, rejoin the narrow path, otherwise you will end up going down …..
The SDW then skirts round a field on a very narrow though open earth path; if wet take care as very slippery and there is a barbed wire fence to the side ! . At a left turn, it passes though some bushes and trees, again with lots of small roots etc, . After a small dip, the path emerges into the open again between two barbed wire fences through field for 200 yards. The path is a bit wider here.
The path comes out onto a wide
chalk track, turn left onto it for 50 yards, then turn right again on a wide
chalk, stone track.
[If you were to carry straight on, you would join a tarmac lane down to the village of Treyford. There is space for 2 cars at the top of the hill, about 150 yards from the turning, although it is not a proper car park, and parking at 45’ angle. As the spaces are between farm gates etc, park considerately.]
The SDW follows this track, climbing quite steeply up through some trees on a stony surface, changing to good gravel at the top for quite a good fastish section. You will then come to a ‘path crossroads’; the SDW turns 90’ left here. A footpath goes straight ahead, and a wide gravel track goes of to the right towards Hooksway. About 30 yards before that ‘crossroads’, there is a small stone memorial to a German pilot shot down in WW2; it is set back on the left about 3 feet from the track. See MAP a screen below.
Slight uphill gradient, on gravel, stone changing to earth. To the left are ‘Devils Jumps’ , (see map below) 3000 year old burial mounds, and to the right behind high fence, may be possible to see llamas, peacocks etc. There is also a memorial beside the path to 'Mark' [who liked it here] , (see 'things of interest').
This path continues on between small trees, bush on hardish earth stone for 0.3 mile, emerging into the open between fields on to Didling Down.
This next section (see PHOTO below) of 0.3 mile has several deepish, narrow ruts which have the habit of catching your pedal, so usually best to ride on left verge. They continue to where a track comes up from Didling from the left. This stretch has some of my favourite views, towards Chichester, Goodwood, Kingley Vale, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. Note July 2011: ruts seem better now, dont think problem now.
After the track from Didling, (very pretty very small church at bottom of hill, worth detour if time) now take care if riding on the left verge as there are the remains of cut off fence posts on the left/northern side; they are every 20 feet or so, and stick out of the ground by up to 3 inches (75mm), and usually hidden by grass. Anyhow, enough to unsaddle you if you hit them ! MAP below shows stretch with fence posts cut off,
I have also shown site of memorial to 2nd World War German pilot ; it is a small stone tablet, about 3 feet to north of track.
The SDW continues on, on quite
rough stone and flint; indeed, I think that it nearly one of the roughest
Good views of Goodwood racecourse open up.
There is then a descent of nearly a mile on roughish, chalk, flint. The first part is reasonably fast, on chalk, flint, stone, slight camber. (Photo below ) About half way down, after the large 2m diameter chalk ball on the right, the track has a gully on the left, so riding is restricted to the narrow sloping right-hand edge of the track. There are cross rain gullies also. So whilst it may be tempting to take this fast, I advise extreme caution on this part. See VIDEO on video page
NB: July 2011: rode down, gullies smoothed out with stone with reasonably firm surface with some small loose stone, ok as long as you don't break as still adverse camber !
(Note: There is a full size 'thumbnail' of photo below without annotation on 'things of interest' page; use underlined link just above here.) I have just been told that the balls are in fact sculptures !
July 2011 see note above re gullies now filled in
The track eventually emerges onto a tarmac lane, though this usually still has stones all over it. After passing through a farmyard with cottage on left, barns on right, you approach the A286 Midhurst to Chichester road, above the village of Cocking. There is a car park here on the right.
There are also some notes on the going 'Westwards' page