CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY
VISITORS RIDES & COMMENTS
I have received several emails, and thought it would be useful to have a page to include comments about SDW, such as where to stay, technical, experiences and thoughts / reflections about your ride on SDW, things that you enjoyed or found useful, tips etc..
For rides, please send nr of days; miles per day eg 30/40/30; fitness avg, good; gender & age; bike full susp mtb, front susp, rigid, touring; b&b , camp etc; any other comments
I do not want to start a 'forum' as admin etc, so please email then I will include. Obviously, I must reserve the right as to what to include, and to edit, amend, remove etc as I feel right. I will include your initials only and date.
Route: W: Winchester; E: Eastbourne; B: Brighton, Devils Dyke; Q: Queen Elizabeth Park, Petersfield. So W-B is Winchester to Brighton, W-E Winchester to Eastbourne
Miles/day: if 2 days, 60 miles then 40: 60/40.
Below is summary, then I have 'pasted' parts of their emails beneath table. Some are quite long, so may have to scroll down few 'screens'. This 'page' is getting quite long now, but think best to keep together (I know websites only should have max 3 screens per page). Summary of rides below table is in order of how they are in table. I have added a number so easier to locate in text.
Thus, example below shows I have only done 65 miles from Winchester to Brighton, and on one day.
3. From Rob N &G:
"As for our trip - we had a good laugh doing this over a long weekend
starting Friday 28th Sept and finishing on the Sunday. There were 3 of us (Neil,
Graeme and Rob) - and on the final leg a 4th guy (Pat) joined in. We are all the
wrong side of 40.
5. Peter: I did the SDW in mid June (same weekend as the London -Brighton race). Fantastic. I've never cycled so far or hard in my life, and have the fondest of memories of stretching myself and a real buzz of achievement. I left Winchester first thing, traveling there by train, then overnight in an inn at Steyner. Finished off the next day - despite a double forward somersault and landing on my face mid morning ouch. No shaving for 3 weeks! Weather hailed, shone and rained. Bike survived just despite punctures and use of 3 (shoes?/boots
7. Ollie: we
completed the ride a few months ago now over the 15th / 16th
of June. We stayed in the Trueleigh Hill YHA – which was pretty good with an
old garage out the back to store you bike and large clean dorms – however the
breakfast could have been bigger.
set off first thing in the morning and made good time to Arundel dodging showers
along the way. We stopped under the bridge across the river Arun as it
tipped it down for a good 20mins, we then cracked on but finished riding from
Cocking to Petersfield on the road as we where all knackered - possibly
something to do with too many beers the night before and too much lunch under
the bridge in Arundel. Anyway over all it was a great success and
something that we will defiantly do again.
I think overall we rode 50 miles including the ride from Shoreham station to the YHA"
6. Roy: we did the ride over 3 days, starting in Winchester, B&B in Cocking and stayed with my sister in Brighton. Overall, it was a bit harder than expected for my wife . Enjoyed it very much and had great weather. Found your site a great help and printed off a number of pages to take with us. Also bought the Harvey South Downs Way map, which used in conjunction with your notes makes getting lost impossible".
my husband and I cycled the SDW from Winchester to Eastbourne over the Bank Holiday weekend (3 May 08 weekend).
Thankfully the weather was on our side and we had sunshine the whole way. We got the train from London to Winchester on the Friday night and stayed in a lovely B&B in Chilcomb (about 20 mins ride from train station) which is right on the trail. It was called Complyns B&B and I would recommend it - great breakfast to start the day off.
Had lunch stop at the Five Bells in Buriton. Great pub. We then stopped at Graffam campsite on the Saturday night, again a great place to stay though a bit of a drop off the Downs. Added an extra 20 - 30 mins onto our journey the next morning as we had to climb back up onto the ridge. Cooked our own tea and then crashed out.
Sunday lunch stop was in Washington at the Frankland Arms. Food not too bad and easy to get back on to the trail. The Sunday night was spent in Pyecombe camped on the front lawn of a B&B there!(he White House) Again great breakfast to start the day. Had dinner Sunday night in the pub there which was ok. We then rode to Eastbourne with a quick stop in Alfriston for pasties on the green by the river and caught the train back to London on the Monday afternoon.
mileage: 40, 30, 30
Fitness - reasonable. We both cycle to work (30 miles round trip).
1 puncture and problems with chain (too loose) so had to take link out. No crashes thankfully!
No real incidences along the way. We were carrying all our camping kit (light weight tent, sleeping bags, small stove etc) so that slowed us down a bit though wasn't a problem. I have a hard tail bike to put rack on the back and strapped things there. My husband has a full suspension bike so strapped the tent to the handlebars. After a few adjustments along the way it was fine and would happily do it again!
Overall a fabulous weekend, beautiful views and a wonderful sense of achievement when we sped down into Eastbourne.'
11. Mike A:
We did our 3rd 'SDW in a day' jaunt on Sat and I've done a write up for
our club site here - http://www.egcc.net/display-items.asp?intTypeID=150&intItemID=390
10. Rob C:
Myself (Rob) and my friend Tom cycled the SDW over the weekend of 21/22
In terms of fitness we both commute to work, have
been putting in some long rides in the weeks leading up to the trip, and laid
off the beers
12. Martin W:
Five of us of
reasonably mature years have just done the Thames Path, Kennet and Avon Canal,
over the Hampshire Downs to Winchester, and then most of the South Downs way
from Winchester to Steyning.
We found the web-site a great help, and I thought you might
like some extra comments.
HIGHLIGHT - Chanctonbury ring in a 50 mph gale! Everyone
was delighted and the views were staggeringly beautiful.
HARD RIDING - We had delays (see below), and we are all
experienced touring cyclists putting in regular mileages of 60 to 70 miles per
day on road, but we found our 3 days on the SDW tough and a real challenge. We
rode up some of the hills you marked as very steep and found that satisfying.
Some of the downhills, especially the one down into the valley at Amberley were
fabulously high octane.
PUNCTURES - Unbelievably we had 7 punctures between the 5
bikes in the 3 days we were on the SDW. It
slowed progress so much that we eventually called it off and turned to Brighton
for a night on the town! It seems
the flints are notorious and we think that slime in the tyres might be a good
idea to seal up all the leaks. My
bike with Kenda tyres was exempt, the Maxxis tyres often punctured, probably due
to softer rubber.
We stayed at the Running Horse at Littleton near Winchester
to start. Very good rooms and very
good food. Recommended.
The 2nd night was at The Bluebell at Cocking.
I find it difficult to write anything good about this place.
Awful rooms and beds, food terrible.
If I could find a way of getting it closed down I would and that would
repay them for my stomach upset. (think have heard similar comments before
about Bluebell at Cocking?)
(June 2009 CLOSED !) FEB 2010 REOPENED under new ownership www.thebluebell.biz
(June 2009 CLOSED !) FEB 2010 REOPENED under new ownership www.thebluebell.biz
FOOD - Apart from the Bluebell at Cocking it was great along the whole route.
14. Tim M:
We did it in 2 days (about 50 miles each day), from Winchester to Eastbourne
We are fit roadies, used to 100m+ rides and races, but relatively inexperienced MTBer
Male, 29 and 27 respectively
We both rode full sus MTBs
We stayed overnight in Amberley, at the Riverside Tearooms.
We carried rucksacks - one medium, one small.
On Saturday we rode from 10:45 until 16:45 with a leisurely lunch stop at the Five Bells, Buriton.
On Sunday we rode from 9:45 until 17:40 with a slight, ahem, detour around Newtimber Hill, a lunch stop at The Half Moon in Plumpton, and a contretemps with a bull on Itford Hill!
The detour we took was something like shown in the attachment; the bridleway descent through Newtimber Holt was excellent - even better than the Jevington one.
Because the weather was brilliant, and Sunday was Mothering Sunday, the world and his wife were out enjoying the great outdoors. We would heartily endorse the recommendation for the Riverside B&B in Amberley and the lunch stops in Buriton and Plumpton. The detour down off 'the tops' to get to Plumpton does, of course, mean an eye-poppingly hard climb after lunch, but that's what big sprockets were made for!
The preceding weather had been very dry, so the tracks were fast but the rutted parts were very bumpy. I can well imagine that the going would be much slipperier and tougher if it had been wet.
We parked at the long-stay Chesil Car Park in Winchester (£5 for the weekend) and got the train back from Eastbourne to the start (£30 each and 2hrs 45 mins via Clapham Junction). I bought a copy of the Harvey's map and found it pretty indispensible at the times when the waymarking became erratic!
All in all, we found it much tougher than we'd anticipated - each day perhaps equivalent to a lumpy 100-mile road ride. It was a brilliant ride, though! Next, the North Downs Way!
(Tim and Sean must have passed each other but going other way as same weekend ! Perhaps I'll have to start selling www.bikedowns cycling shirts !)
15. Sean G:
did it in 3 stages, stopping at the YHA hostels: Eastbourne – Alfriston,
Alfriston – Arundel, Arundel –
it seemed easiest to do the route E – W, as I was traveling down from Watford
by train and wanting to keep accommodation costs down – there being no YHA
bike I used was an old Rockhopper Disc which had been doing service as a
commuter – but it was all I had available at the time. Hence, it had
rigid forks, Marathon XR 2.0 tyres, a 12-25 cassette and 44/32 front chainrings
with the granny ring removed.
did the route in 3 stages, stopping at Alfriston and Arundel YHAs on Friday and
Saturday night, respectively. I took 3 main deviations from the set route:
Following the footpath over Beachy Head by mistake between Eastbourne and
Alfriston YHA, having started the ride with only a green OS roadmap (1:250,000)
I cut into Lewes via the B- road intersecting the SDW at Southease to pick up
some proper maps and a café stop. The road was not busy and Lewes makes a
pleasant stop. I followed the bridleway past the prison towards Ditchling
to rejoin the SDW proper.
I left the SDW again just before Arundel to follow a bridlepath which you can
take pretty much most of the way to Arundel YHA (which is actually at
Warningcamp). Next day I followed the A284 North until the roundabout,
where you can pick up a bridlepath to rejoin the SDW. The road is quite
busy even on a Sunday morning and not very pleasant, however the bridlepath
through the forest is.
observations: I thought the route was okay without the front suspension,
although my wrists felt a bit battered by
I used a backpack for luggage and traveled fairly light with just a change of underwear, spare base-layer, a waterproof and a fleece. I took a big 750g bag of muesli and some dried milk, raisins, dried bananas for food – this was fine in combination with the “all you can eat” buffet breakfasts at the hostels which were great to set you up for the day. Two 750ml water bottles between water points were enough, although I’d say not in summer. I took a puncture repair kit and some duct-tape alone for repairs and luckily this was not needed. The weight of this in the pack was fine and no bother to carry.
trail was mostly very dry and the XRs and were plenty enough tyre for the
conditions, although there was the odd shaded spot where the chalky soil was
route split-up as follows:
16. Darryl S:
I completed the ride in a day from Winchester to
Eastbourne. Setting off at 06:00 am from the King Alfred statue, it
was lightly raining and grey skies, but the rain quickly stopped as I headed out
of Winchester. I found the first part of the ride quite easy, the hills
more rolling and the surface fast with a good percent being tarmac. The
damp chalk was lethal though, with several ‘moments’ where the rear tyre
stepped out. I managed to keep it all above ground, but beware if you do
this ride on damp ground! I covered the first 34 miles averaging 10mph.
I stopped half-way for lunch at Washington where I was met by my support crew (Mrs S!) with pasta, energy drink and provisions for the ride. The ride gets tougher from there on, a fairly big climb out of Washington setting the scene. The average speed dropped over the second half of the ride due to the ascents, but the descents always brought a big smile to my face! The weather had improved to sunny spells, and the temperature was a perfect 19c.
I set a target of 12 hours to complete the ride, and finished it in 11 hours 21 mins elapsed time (approx 10 hours 40 mins ride time). It was a tough challenge, but one which has got me wanting to go back for more. A beautiful route, epic challenge and worthy of my fondest day of riding so far.
There are lots of reports of the SDW being quite prone to
giving punctures. Maybe I was lucky, but I chose Continental Mountain King
Protection tyres because of their hardiness, and I didn’t get a single
puncture. The tyres gripped well, rolled fast and inspired confidence.
Having completed the ride, the tyres still look in excellent condition even
after riding over so much flint and rock at high speed.
To aid with the route, I have a Garmin Edge 305 GPS, which
I could not recommend more highly for planning rides of any size, this one
included. Most of the SDW is well sign posted, but there are plenty of
turns which could be missed. The battery lasted the ride hence I did not
need to refer to OS Explorer maps over the journey. I use TrackLogs software to
Training for the ride: I live on the North Downs, nr
Guildford which is perfect training territory for the SDW. I tend to get
out and do off-road rides 3-4 times a week, varying them in length and
intensity. I began proper training for this ride 8 weeks in advance,
increasing the distance of the rides to be more endurance focussed.
My equipment/provisions: Specialized Stumpjumper Expert
Full Suspension, Continental Mountain King Protection 2.2 tyres, 2 spare inner
tubes, 2 packs of 8 self-adhesive puncture patches, 4 x large tyre patches,
multi-tool, tyre lever, pump, Camelbak Mule 3L pack, High5 Isotonic drink, 8 x
TorQ energy gels (strawberry yoghurt flavour) 4 x TorQ energy bars, 2 x Clif
Energy Bars, 3 x Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Bars, 2 x Bananas, Pasta, Garmin
Edge 305 GPS device, TrackLogs Route planning software for PC, I refilled
my Camelbak twice with tap water en route and used the TorQ gels with the water
to boost energy levels.
your accommodation section I would like to heartily recommend the Four Acres
B&B (www.fouracres.org.uk) just
off the SDW in Fulking (just past Truleigh approx 65 miles from
(David & family also used Four Acres and pub)
(David & family also used Four Acres and pub)
18. David & Fran and family:
(I think very commendable for a 12 yr old to ride complete distance of SDW)
Family of 5 with widely varying fitness levels, age range 12 to 47, took us 6 days, don’t think we could have done it quicker. We had a great time and would recommend it. Youngest would have rather have done it on horseback or with a dog. 2 punctures throughout. We couldn’t find Buriton shop marked on map. Used Chesil St (Winchester) car park for the cars, £5 per car per day.
· 25.7.09 Winchester to nr Hamilton Farm, Lane End ( SDW map 7b) 6.5 miles.
Accom – Mays Farm b+b, Longwood Dean. Comfy, clean, hearty breakfast.
· 26.7.09 Hamilton farm to HMS Mercury ( SDW map 7a ) 12 miles.
Accom – Wetherdown Sustainability Centre, Droxford Road, East Meon, Petersfield 01730 823549. Friendly basic hostel, help yourself to large self-catering breakfast, envigorating shampoos and shower gels, secure bike storage.
· 27.7.09 HMS Mercury to Cocking, 17 miles. We couldn’t find Buriton shop marked on map.
Accom – Moonlight Cottage tearooms b+b. Pricey, outside loo for family room, good food but didn’t live up to previous glowing write-ups.
· 28.7.09 Cocking to Amberley, 12 miles.
Accom – The Sportsman, Crossgates Rd, Amberley. Clean, needed 3 rooms to accommodate family of 5 so was pricey, food good.
Bus transport link to Amberley station arrived one minute after connecting hourly train to Arundel ie completely unco-ordinated public transport.
Afternoon party split: 4 to swim in open air pool at Arundel and Dad to Littlehampton for laundrette and to buy replacement brake blocks.
· 29.7.09 Amberley to Fulking, 16 miles. Fulking full of expensive new car makes much to eldest child’s delight. And lots of horses to view today and next day to appease the other 2 children.
Accom – Four Acres b+b, Poynings Road, Fulking. Very comfortable, very clean, excellent packed lunches ( 2 rounds of sandwiches, fruit and cake )and thoughtful home comforts such as dvd selection. Local pub ( Shepherd and Dog) very good food, huge portions. (Russell above also Four Acres) and pub.
· Fulking to Alfriston, 25 miles.
Accom – Alfriston YHA. Clean, comfy, cosy and good buffet breakfast. Smugglers Inn pub in Alfriston village, good food and served all day eg our evening meal was at 4.30 pm.
· Alfriston to Eastbourne, 7 miles. Then various trains to get back to Winchester and luckily (yes I think that you were v lucky !) each train accommodated our 5 bikes.
Improvements: Would like more water taps and existing ones to be marked on map (I have plotted on a Googlr map) and Harveys XT40 2006 map needs updating.
19. Simon W & Simon H
I have just completed the downs from Winchester to
Eastbourne in three days (4-6 July 2009). Beautiful and exhausting. We road
‘hybrid’ Marins with off-road tyres complete with panniers. We left
Winchester at 11, arrived at South Harting early evening. I recommend this town
highly. The Ship does great beer and food. We stayed at The Pyramids B&B -
£30, 2 minutes from pub. We then cycled all day to Pyecombe where we stayed at
The Whitehouse – again £30. Great hosts, very friendly and accommodating. The
Plough is 2 mins down road and does excellent food – with an M&S at the BP
station next door for riding provisions– it was another perfect place to
stay. We then made Eastbourne by 3:00 in afternoon and caught the train back to
Winchester to pick up the car.
Seeming we planned this at the last minute I think we
picked two perfect places to stay that split the whole route up very well. Good
weather, no punctures, no crashes – excellent.
20. Andrew S
We ware 3 fairly fit men who play alot of sport but had not
done alot of cycling. We cycled the SDW over 3 pleasant autumn days of
10/11the September. A few points we feel worthy of note to fellow cyclists
21. Anna T
YHA Truleigh Hill was good would stay there again. There is secure bike lock up in locked garage. I took my own lock to be sure - other folk are given the key to put their bikes in. Staff were friendly. There is an area with sofas and books, TV, mags etc. They provide all sheets and duvets which is good. Food was fine, dinner 3 courses for £10 which is good value. Especially welcome when town is a £10 taxi fare away. Breakfast was £5 I think - I had early cooked breakfast at 7.30 - Later breakfast from 8am is help yourself buffet, and there were croissants too, which I missed out on!
Times. Winchester departed 8am, YHA departed 8am, arrived Eastbourne 2.30pm. .
22. Mik M
Eleven of us did Eastbourne to Winchester two weeks ago
Friday four cars from Nottingham to Telscome YHA then cycled to Beachy Head via South Downs and back along the Coast Road the first afternoon
Saturday Telscome to Amberley via South Downs then dropped down to Fontwell Travel Lodge the second day
Sunday Cycle back up to Amberley then South Downs to the Sustainability Centre East Meon third day
Monday East Meon to Winchester then back to the cars and a drive back to Nottingham
Involved moving four cars back and forward each day all ways two at each end but saved a lot on hire cars and we wouldn't have got eleven bikes on the train
Fantastic weekend very lucky with the weather Sunshine and not a drop of rain
23. Jon F
Winchester to Eastbourne 3 days; We stayed in two excellent B&Bs, Downsfold in Cocking and FourAcres in Fulking; I would highly recommend them.
24. Chris T
did it over two days from Eastbourne to Winchester. Stayed at Gumbar Bothy which I can highly recommend to everybody.
-rode a old & heavy Claud Butler hard tail with a Topeak MTX rack and pannier set which worked really well. Used Schwalbe Land Cruiser tyres- no punctures until I got off the train in Eastbourne!!!! Taking spare brake pads would also have been a good plan.
I am 37, male, reasonably fit, but carry excess baggage. I had to push up quite a few of the climbs but thoroughly enjoyed the two days. I think the split was 60/45 miles & to be honest the first day was a bit long for me.
25. Tom A
Three of us completed the SDW over two days on the 17th and 18th July.
Two of us had done the ride two years previously, also over two days. The
third member of our group had not, but has a lot of experience cycling
long distances having done a 7,000+ mile cycle in Africa a few years ago.
26. Stuart H
31 year old blokes, one who lives in Storrington, cycles 3 – 4 times a week,
the rest of us thought we were reasonably fit until we tried to do the SDW. 3 of
us started in Winchester, at around 11:30am on Friday morning, two on hard
tails, and one on full suspension – all had hydraulic disk brakes. We were
aiming to get to Graffam where we were booked into the Forresters Arms. We
thought we were making good progress, until we missed the left turn by the
Millerry pub. We then got very lost in the Queen Elizabeth Park, as we followed
a sign saying “Cyclists this way – Walkers Only Straight on” without
realising it was taking us off in a big loop! Whilst the trails were great fun,
when on a schedule we didn’t really appreciate ending up back at the start
point 50 mins after we left it.
eventually arrived in Graffam around 21:30, as by the end of the day we were all
shattered. I estimate we did about 42 miles that day, but one cycle computer (I
lost mine earlier that day) read 52 miles (but I doubt the accuracy) The
Forresters Arms is a great pub, we had a triple room en-suit which was about £30
per person. We phone our food orders ahead at 21:00 so that was ready and
waiting for us when we arrived, and the land lady was very welcoming. Breakfast
the next morning was huge!!!
headed back up onto the SDW form there, met our mate from Storrington up on the
trail, and made our way to Devils Dyke for a few beers and then on to Pyecombe
– stayed at Dolphin Cottage which was brilliant again.
then did very well, until we reached Alfriston! We saw the two routes of SDW on
the map, but failed to realise the coastal route (which on paper looks the
better of the two for scenery) was a footpath. We hacked our way down to the
grassy valley you mention in your photos, and up the other side to Jevington, to
pick up the bridle path again.
in all though, a great 3 days riding, and thanks again for all the great
information on your site.
bikes – all running off road MTB tyres
Q820 hard tail, with hydraulic disks
hard tail, with hydraulic disks
full sus with hydraulic disks
Fisher full sus with hydraulic disks
27. Michael P
June 2010: We were 6 casual
cyclists, mostly unfit , aged 47 - 65. Started in Winchester on a Wednesday
morning and completed in Eastbourne on Friday afternoon (3 days cycling). We all
had MTB, mostly hardtails, but none costing more than £300. We carried minimal
clothes in small rucksacks and all had spare inner tubes and at least 1.5l of
water. Basic tool and first aid kits carried as well.
Day 1: I live near
Winchester, so everyone stayed with me before starting and we were at King
Alfred's statue for 7.15pm. Early start because of the traffic and heat wave!
Trail is well marked at the Winchester end at the moment. Used the official
temporary route up to Old Winchester Hill (great views), but would imagine the
old temporary route (through Warnford, up the road) is quicker. The charge down
Butser Hill was wonderfully dangerous!
Lunch at QEP (good but slow
service with long queue). Moonlight Cottage in Cocking (Sue and Steve very
welcoming and helpful) is perfectly placed for first overnight stop. Pub just up
the road does good food and limited accommodation.
Day 2: Lunch at pub in
Washington, the Frankland Arms (simple, filling pub food, about a mile off the
SDW). Evening at Hobbs Cottage in Pyecombe (perfectly placed for SDW, but noisy
with the A24 close by. Comfortable and welcoming B&B). Evening meal at the
Plough in Pyecombe. Interesting Spanish-themed menu.
Day 3: Lunch in Alfriston. Too
hot to sit in the garden without shade! Good place to fill up on food and liquid
before the final haul into Eastbourne. Had a celebration swim in Eastbourne
(would have been on bikes, but the shingle won't let you!) and got collected by
a local minibus (firstname.lastname@example.org
- good value and on time) on the seafront to stay at a friends in East
Notes. We all really enjoyed
our cycle although it was hard work for us. Cycling in the heat (around 24-28C)
added about 2 hours to each day. We probably were on the bikes for 8 hours each
day with a 1hr lunch stop. Will avoid June in the future! We pushed up
about 6-8 of the steepest ascents (a bit disappointingly). Knowledge of water
points essential - thanks Anthony! Used Paul Millmore's national trail
guide 'The South Downs Way' for maps and other information.
Stunning views for most of the
trail and mostly empty, apart from 200+ charity walkers near Rodmell! Polite
bell ringing and tolerance required. The walkers said they preferred to have
'BIKE' shouted when approached from behind. Temporary bridge at Southease
working very well. 2 punctures.
Looking to repeating the
journey next year, in 2 days. Did Eastbourne to Winchester (3 days) last year,
and didn’t think it was much harder or easier. Choose your wind
28 David G.
cycled a bit of the South downs this summer, aged 58 a Sunday cyclist on a fairly standard bike, though with good quality tyres. On my own. Started 24th of July got to Winchester 27th
I cycled from London on the Downs & Weald cycle route stopping first at Salfords a few miles South of Redhill, far enough from my start at Kings Cross particularly as until I checked thought I was going to Redhill itself, stayed in Premier Inn very comfortable, everything needed on site -beer+ food. No problems about bringing bike into lobby.
Second night at Four Acres extensively reviewed already, great place to stop,lovely setting. Great pub in village but after a hot Sunday almost all food gone, only fish and chips left. Vey hard to get a phone signal ( t mobile) but there is a box in the village. Provided excellent packed lunch (but no drink which needed). Climbed to SDW at Steyning having cycled around Barber for a while -loosing my way a common theme. Perhaps someone can do a guide to easier routes up to the Way-because that one is a real hard climb. Found the route hard work was very glad that had arranged for next nights stay -Moonlight Tea rooms-to pick up my luggage. It's expensive but for me well worth it -you do need to watch how much you carry. Track much as others have described, hard, not always clearly marked, some serious ruts at least in July, tractor wheel sized in some cases, in others hidden by grass -fell off due to both sorts.
Moonlight lovely as described by others, the Bluebell in the same town does really good food but it is expensive, worth it if you can afford it, otherwise The Moonlighters will do food but it must be ordered in advance.
I had the Harveys map which is OK but if and when you stray off the SDW -and signage can be very vague (and navigation seems to be one of my weak points) it isn't much help.
29 Alan S
I am just writing to say I have just finished (23 – 25
August 2010) a ride to Eastbourne and thanks to the info on your site, and other
research, it was trouble-free.
I downloaded and tweaked your GPS routes (to fit them
better to my meeting points and to extend the end to Eastbourne Pier). For
your info I used www.maptogps.com to
confirm and amend them and EasyGPS to file, edit and upload them to my Garmin
eTrex H. Although I carried the appropriate OS Explorer maps as back-up I
never needed them en-route.
I did, however, go off track a couple of times. The
first was on day one on Harting Down were I missed the sharp right turn and
tried to ride up Beacon Hill. It was only when I stalled that I looked at
the GPS and saw my error! The second time was in the woods on the way down
into Jevington where I just followed a deeply muddied bridle path for a couple
of hundred metres instead of taking a left bearing down the official slippery,
I also came off a couple of times without injury or
embarrassment as there weren’t any witnesses!
You may be interested to know that the temporary bridge and
route at Southease is quite efficient although a little daunting when seeing
orange and white cones spread across the road before diversion signs are seen.
The track out of Littleton Farm was a sea of liquid mud but
it was possible to ride on the “ledge” on the left side.
I thought Eastbourne Pier was going to be a more
significant terminus but I did pause at Paradise drive for the obligatory photo.
30 Steve & Lesley (June 2011)
We travelled to Winchester by train for an early start, on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day - although on the final 30 miles or so we struggled against really strong head-winds that threatened to blpw us off the bikes, and often blew us off the line we'd chosen, making things rather challenging to say the least. We took 12 3/4 hours from start to finish, just managing to catch the last train home. A very long and hard day, but the fantastic views along the way, and the immense feeling of achieving what was a serious personal challenge made it all worthwhile.
31 Steve Ian Alex (June 2011)
Your website proved a valuable tool for our preparation to cycle from Winchester to meet our better halves at the campsite in Alfriston. We left at 5:40 am and lost Alex near Cheesefoot Head with a puncture and 5 broken spokes. Almost forgot to take the sharp right hand turn shortly after, but fortunately remembered the picture on your site. Fuelled up on Power Shot Energy bars, banana and 'chewybars' as well as water refills and the regular water taps from Cocking (by the way the tap at the River Adur has been dismantled above the water trough). Finally made it to Alfriston at 6:50pm (13 hrs 10 mins including a 45 min delay with Alex's wheel issue!). We travelled light on our front suspension HTs with just a 3 litre capacity saddle bag and relied on water from taps (with energy powder added), wind was an issue especially from SouthEase to Alfriston, by which time we were looking forward to a well earned pint!
32 Ros H (June 2011)
A girlfriend and I have just 'done' the SDW in 3 days and raised nearly £1000 for breast cancer research. I spent just 8 weeks training to get fit to do this after finishing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer, so this was a great challenge for me at 57 years old! I started off pathetically unfit, 15 minutes on an exercise bike was enough, but built up my strength gradually until one day I could actually stand up on the pedals and push! The best training was spending time in the saddle around our local tracks, and this was helped by a long period of lovely dry weather. I pushed myself a bit in training on trails around the Winchester area but even then I wasn't fully prepared for some of those South Downs hills!! I managed to get up many of them in the saddle but was forced to walk at times, especially as it was very wet and muddy everywhere, following heavy rain.
Your website was really useful thank you - it helped us plan where to stay and decide on how many days to take. Three days was perfect for me, but I think stronger cyclists could do it in 2 days easily if they didn't spend too much time stopping for photos and coffees.
We stayed at Moonlight Tea Rooms In Cocking on the first night (approx a third of the way from Winchester) and had a warm welcome, tea and cake, hosepipe to wash our bikes, comfy beds, TV and a good evening meal and breakfast, with double yolk eggs from Steve's chickens. A great B & B.
We visited the Bluebell pub in Cocking - refurbished over a year ago and really stylish and pleasant without being flashy. The real ale (TEA) was excellent and fellow guests who ate there said the food was lovely. They also do B & B and the barmaid said the bedrooms had all been refurbished recently.
On our second night we stayed at 'Four Acres' B & B in Fulking. Again, great facilities for bike washing, tea and biscuits galore, huge bedroom and luxury bathroom and sooo peaceful (you will hear owls, foxes etc). Sarah has the house up for sale though, so not sure what will happen here in future.
We ate at the Sheperd and Dog in Fulking. Classy yet hearty food, but not cheap, especially the deserts. Worth it though for a good feed and a fine choice of ales. Friendly helpful staff too. It got suprisingly busy for a Monday night - obviously a well run place. They are so busy on Sundays that they don't even accept bookings!
We were confounded at the start of the trip because Southern Trains did not allow bikes on any trains due to the London to Brighton Bike Ride, until after 1200, so we couldn't get to the start at Eastboune. At the last minute we had to change our plans and start at Winchester (but that was good as we had the wind with us!)
A word of warning for those using trains via London or Brighton. Southern Trains will not accept cycles (unless booked) on trains arriving/leaving at peak times, so do check it out before you travel. This was not obvious from looking at their website and we did not book in advance as we weren't sure when we would arrive at the end of the trail. As it was, we worked very hard to reach Eastbourne by 1600 so as to get back home for a slap up supper, only to be told we could not travel back west along the south coast until 1900. How frustrating to have to wait 3 hours in muddy wet clothes - although we did enjoy the time in the pub in the end!! Southern Trains are very poor at communicating these restrictions. Other cyclists were caught out by this too and there was a very grumpy atmosphere at Brighton station!
Another comment I have is that the hills on the second day were a lot harder than the first and I don' think this is quite reflected in your site (although maybe I am being a wimp here!). Especially difficult I thought were the climbs out of Saddlescombe (although short) Alfriston (I walked up through the woods but cycled the path after crossing the road) and Southease.
The Hungy Monk at Jevington where they invented banoffee pie has closed down (now flats), but a plaque on the building remains. As far as eating places go I recommend the Smugglers Inn, Alfriston for its large beer garden that you can take your bike into and leave without worrying about. Also very generous food portions!
33. Dave & Peter
I just arranged a last minute trip over August Bank Holiday 2015. Here's our experience:
I cycled with my son Peter from West to East. We drove down to Winchester on Friday, ready to start riding on Saturday morning. Tourist Information found a Bed & Breakfast for Friday and I used the "pay by phone" facility to leave the van in Chesil Street multi storey car park (£8 for 72 hours).
Lunchtime at "The Millbury's" at Beauworth, near Cheriton. It started raining as we approached Queen Elizabeth Park. Thanks for the tip to stay on the tarmac past the Visitor Centre. We missed a signpost in the woods and popped out near the church at Burriton. Used the OS map to follow the "B" roads to Graffam. We stayed at the Foresters Arms on Saturday night (Moonlight Tearooms were full). We arrived like two drowned rats with half an hour's daylight to spare. The landlord made us extremely welcome and took our wet clothes to the utility room where they dried overnight. We were travelling light, only had one pair of shoes each, so arrived in the bar barefoot. The landlord lent us dry socks! Food and beer was great Highly recommended.
Sunday was dry and 60km later we were at Brighton YHA (the hostel on the trail was full). Brighton YHA doesn't have a drying room, but just managed to dry washing on the heated towel rail.
Abandoned the trip on Monday when the rain returned and took trains via Southampton back to Winchester (cheaper than via Clapham Junction) to pick up the van and drive home
1. Bar bag: could not manage without ! phone, camera, glasses, map, food, small bottle water, etc.all to hand, and on BHF ride, the tokens etc. Mine is 'creek 2 peek'. It has zip pocket at front as well ( I use that for phone, glasses), carry handle. Most also have a clear plastic map holder to clip on top, but make sure OS map fits when folded as mine did not. Other makes Altura, Ortileb. Bracket fixes to handlebar, then clicks on. I also use a Altura rack bag which fits to a 'bar beam' which clamps to seat/saddle pin . But I find have to fix at slight angle as my thighs foul it when riding, not enough to rub, but just annoying.
Please email any suggestions.